Luke has Jesus tell a parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector that is only found in this gospel. Luke indicated that Jesus said that two men (Ἄνθρωποι δύο) went up into the Temple (ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν) to pray (προσεύξασθαι). One was a Pharisee (ὁ εἷς Φαρισαῖος). The other was a tax collector (καὶ ὁ ἕτερος τελώνης). Both of these men were well intentioned, since they went to the Temple to pray to God, a good thing. Socially, they were of two different strata. The Pharisee was a pillar of Jewish society as an interpreter of the Mosaic Law. The tax collector, on the other hand, was considered a traitor to the Jewish community, since he worked for the Roman Empire, the occupation force. These tax collectors were often compared to public sinners. The contrast was real and set out at the beginning of this story. Is there a social strata in your religious culture?
Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the bad judge. Luke indicated that Jesus said there was a widow in that city (χήρα δὲ ἦν ἐν τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ). She kept coming to this bad judge (καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτὸν). She said (λέγουσα) that she wanted justice or restitution (Ἐκδίκησόν με) against her opponent or adversary (ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀντιδίκου μου). Widows were the powerless and vulnerable in Jewish society, since they had lost the support of their husbands. People would always be reminded to help the poor and the widows, as they were considered the same class of people, since generally, older women without husbands were poor. This particular widow had a case against someone, so that she kept coming back to his bad judge to achieve justice or vengeance on her part. Have you ever sued anyone?
Σαμαρείτης δέ τις ὁδεύων ἦλθεν κατ’ αὐτὸν καὶ ἰδὼν ἐσπλαγχνίσθη,
Luke continued his unique story. Jesus said that a Samaritan (Σαμαρείτης), while traveling (δέ τις ὁδεύων), came near to this wounded man (ἦλθεν κατ’ αὐτὸν). When he saw him (καὶ ἰδὼν), he was moved with pity (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη). Who then is this Samaritan? Samaritans lived in Samaria, between Judea and Galilee. This was the territory that had been formerly assigned to Ephraim and Manasseh. The Samaritans were part of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel with the city of Samaria as their capital city, after the death of Solomon. There was an example of kindness by the northern tribes in 2 Chronicles, chapter 28:12-15, but that was long before the bitterness set in between Samaria and Judea. Over time, since the 8th century BCE, they had become a distinct ethnic group that was in dispute with the Judean Jews, since the territory of Samaria was between Judea and Galilee. They became bitter enemies with the Jews of Judea in particular. Luke showed Jesus interacting with the Samaritans more than any of the other gospel writers. Luke had uniquely mentioned that Jesus had gone into some Samaritan villages in chapter 9:52-56. It might even be questioned, why would this Samaritan be on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem? Nevertheless, this unnamed Samaritan like the unnamed priest and Levite, came on the scene. Unlike the other two prominent Jewish religious leaders, this Samaritan was moved with pity. Samaritans were the underclass among the Judeans. They worshiped a false Jewish God with their Samaritan Torah at the destroyed Mount Gerizim. They were not at the top of Jewish society, quite the opposite. Can someone at the bottom of a society do anything good?
Luke uniquely continued this story or parable about who is my neighbor. Jesus said that by chance (κατὰ συγκυρίαν), a certain Jewish priest (δὲ ἱερεύς τις) was going down (κατέβαινεν) this same road (ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ). He saw the badly wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν), but he passed by on the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν). There is a lot of speculation on why this priest did not help this man. Was it because of ritual purity? Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop? Did he simply not care? Was it too much of a bother? Certainly, a Jewish priest had standing in the Jewish community. Other than the high priest, he represented the most important level of Jewish society. What is certain is that this high-ranking religious leader did not engage in any way with the afflicted man on the other side of the road. He clearly saw him, as he specifically crossed over to the other side, so as not to be bothered by him. The ritual purity argument has been raised since a priest could not touch a corpse. However, there was no mention of a dead body. Do you always have an excuse on why you do not help other wounded people?
Luke and Matthew are similar about the demands that Jesus puts on his followers, so that this might be a Q source, since it was not in Mark. Luke said that as they were going along the road (Καὶ πορευομένων αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ), someone said to Jesus (εἶπέν τις πρὸς αὐτόν) that he would follow him wherever he went (Ἀκολουθήσω σοι ὅπου ἐὰν ἀπέρχῃ). This is similar to Matthew, chapter 8:19, but Luke did not call this man a Scribe, as Matthew did. Matthew said that this one Scribe came to Jesus, calling him a rabbi or a teacher (Διδάσκαλε). This scribe or man of letters, was willing to follow Jesus wherever he went. The Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed. They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society. They might have been the fore-runners of the rabbinic class that was developing at that time. Notice that he called Jesus a teacher or a rabbi. He was willing to go wherever Jesus went. Perhaps, the author of Matthew might have been a Jewish Scribe himself, since he was very familiar with Hebrew scriptures. What is clear is that this man or Scribe wanted to follow Jesus, a good thing. Do you want to follow Jesus Christ?
Luke said that the Pharisees and their Scribes were complaining or grumbling (καὶ ἐγόγγυζον οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς αὐτῶν) to Jesus’ disciples (πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ). They wondered (λέγοντες) why they were with Jesus eating and drinking (ἐσθίετε καὶ πίνετε) with tax collectors and sinners (Διὰ τί μετὰ τῶν τελωνῶν καὶ ἁμαρτωλῶν). Mark, chapter 2:16, and Matthew, chapter 9:11, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this incident. In Matthew, it was only the Pharisees and not the Scribes who are complaining. Mark and Luke have both these Pharisees and their Scribes grumble about this dinner party. They saw that Jesus and his disciples was eating and drinking with these sinners and tax collectors. Then they asked the disciples of Jesus, and not Jesus himself, why was Jesus eating with these tax collectors and sinners? These Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism. They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit. They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple. The Pharisees in the New Testament engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples, as here. However, Paul the Apostle may have been a Pharisee before his conversion. Maybe Jesus and some of his followers were Pharisees, so that these arguments with the Pharisees may have been internal arguments. Or is this portrait of the Pharisees in the New Testament a caricature, since the late first century Christians were fighting with the emerging Rabbinic Pharisees? Their position towards the Scribes was a mixed bag. These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed, as professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.
Next, Luke introduced an angel, just as in Matthew, chapter 1:20, when an angel appeared to Joseph to tell him about the birth of Jesus. Angels played a special role in Jewish society as messengers of the Lord. These angels were spiritual beings who worshipped God in heaven. Thus, the Temple had many engravings with angels on them, especially cherubim angels. Luke said that an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah (ὤφθη δὲ αὐτῷ ἄγγελος Κυρίου). This angel stood at the right side of the altar of incense (ἑστὼς ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τοῦ θυμιάματος) in the sanctuary. Those outside praying knew nothing about this appearance of an angel inside the sanctuary.
This is unique to Mark, since in Jewish society, women could not divorce their husbands, but in Roman society or among the gentiles, women could divorce their husbands. However, Jesus gave the same rebuke as he gave the men. If a woman divorced her husband (καὶ ἐὰν αὐτὴ ἀπολύσασα τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς), and married someone else (γαμήσῃ ἄλλον), she committed adultery (μοιχᾶται). There were no exceptions, not even for spousal abuse. The new marriage was adulterous.
The role of Elijah can be found also in Matthew, chapter 17:10, as well as here in Mark. The disciples of Jesus asked, questioned or interrogated him (καὶ ἐπηρώτησαν αὐτὸν λέγοντες) about why the Scribes said (Ὅτι λέγουσιν οἱ γραμματεῖς) that Elijah had to come first (ὅτι Ἡλείαν δεῖ ἐλθεῖν πρῶτον). The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah. He said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come. These Scribes were contemporary religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed. They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society.
There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:1. Once again, there was a confrontation with the Pharisees and the Scribes. Mark said that the Pharisees and some of the Scribes gathered around Jesus (Καὶ συνάγονται πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι καί τινες τῶν γραμματέων). However, this time, these Pharisees and Scribes came from Jerusalem (ἐλθόντες ἀπὸ Ἱεροσολύμων). These Scribes were religious experts who determined the traditions to be followed. They were professional copiers of manuscript documents, although they had a wider role in Jewish society. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism. They had their own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit. They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple. These Pharisees in the New Testament continually engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples.