God knows your heart (Lk 16:15-16:15)

“Jesus

Said to the Pharisees.

‘You are those

Who justify yourselves

In the sight

Of others.

However,

God knows

Your hearts.

What is prized

By human beings

Is an abomination

In the sight

Of God.’”

 

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ δικαιοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὁ δὲ Θεὸς γινώσκει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν· ὅτι τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν βδέλυγμα ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Once again, this is a unique statement of Luke, not found in the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus reproved the Pharisees.  He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that they tried to justify themselves (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ δικαιοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς) in the sight of other men (ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  However, God knows their hearts (ὁ δὲ Θεὸς γινώσκει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν).  What is prized or exalted by humans (ὅτι τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν) is an abomination or cursed in the sight of God (βδέλυγμα ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Once again, Jesus continued with his diatribe against the Pharisees.  The value system of the Pharisees was not in sync with the value system of God.  They wanted to look good before their fellow men, so as to be praised.  However, whatever humans praise, God does not.  Do you love human praise?

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The parable (Lk 15:3-15:3)

“Thus,

Jesus told them

This parable.”

 

εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτοὺς τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην λέγων

 

Luke indicated that Jesus wanted to justify his behavior.  Thus, he told them (εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτοὺς) this parable (τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην λέγων).  This parable of the lost sheep can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:12, with some minor changes.  Perhaps this is a Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus asked them to think (Τί ὑμῖν δοκεῖ) about these things or this parable, although he did not call it a parable like Luke did here.  Do you like stories or parables?

Who is my neighbor? (Lk 10:29-10:29)

“But wanting

To justify himself,

This lawyer

Asked Jesus.

‘Who is my neighbor?’”

 

ὁ δὲ θέλων δικαιῶσαι ἑαυτὸν εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν Καὶ τίς ἐστίν μου πλησίον

 

Luke alone went on to a further explanation about the question or meaning of neighbor.  He said that this lawyer wanted to justify himself (ὁ δὲ θέλων δικαιῶσαι ἑαυτὸν) and his earlier question.  He asked Jesus (εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν) point blank, ‘Who is my neighbor (Καὶ τίς ἐστίν μου πλησίον)?’  This question has haunted Christians for centuries.  Were these very Jewish people their neighbors?  Were only those who believed exactly like them their neighbors?  The answer will be clear as this story unfolds.  Who do you think your neighbor is?

The great assembly (Isa 43:8-43:9)

“Bring forth the people

Who are blind,

Yet have eyes!

Bring forth the people

Who are deaf,

Yet have ears!

Let all the nations gather together!

Let the people assemble!

Who among them can declare this?

Who has foretold to us the former things?

Let them bring their witnesses

To justify them!

Let them hear!

Let them say!

‘It is true.’”

Yahweh wanted them to bring out the blind and the deaf who had eyes and ears. He wanted all the nations and people of the earth together in his universal outreach. Was there anyone who had foretold what was to happen in the past? Were there any witnesses to justify that it was true? Let them come forward!

The difference between the rich and the humble (Sir 13:21-13:24)

“When the rich person totters,

He is supported by friends.

But when a humble person falls,

He is pushed away

Even by friends.

If the rich person slips,

Many come to his rescue.

If he speaks unseemly words,

They justify him.

If the humble person slips,

They even criticize him.

If he talks sense,

He is not given a hearing.

When the rich person speaks,

All are silent.

They extol to the clouds

What he says.

When the poor person speaks,

They say.

‘Who is this fellow?’

Should he stumble,

They even push him down.

Riches are good

If they are free from sin.

Poverty is evil

Only in the opinion of the ungodly.”

Sirach points out the different attitudes that we have toward the rich and the poor. We tolerate and encourage bad behavior by rich people, but we put down the good behavior of poor people. If a rich person totters a little bit, everyone will come to help him. If a humble poor person slips, his friends push him away. Everyone tries to justify the unseemly words of the rich. However, they will criticize the words of the poor, even if they make a lot of good sense. No one will listen to the poor, but everyone is silent when the rich speak. They will say how wonderful he is. On the other hand, when the poor person speaks, they will ask, who is this guy anyway. If a poor person stumbles, they will push him down further. The only way that rich can be good, is if they are free from sin. In fact, the ungodly think that poverty is evil. It is a tough life if you are poor, but everyone will cover your mistakes if you are rich, because you have “affluenza”.

God is rigorous (Wis 12:23-12:27)

“Therefore those who lived

In an unrighteous way,

In a life of folly,

You tormented

Through their own abominations.

They went far astray

On the paths of error.

They accepted as gods

Those animals

That even their enemies despised.

They were deceived like foolish infants.

Therefore as though like children,

Who cannot reason,

You sent your judgment to mock them.

But those who have not heeded

The warning of light rebukes

Will experience the deserved judgment of God.

When in their suffering,

They became incensed

At those creatures

That they had thought to be gods,

They were punished by means of them.

They saw the true God.

They recognized the true God

Whom they had before refused to know.

Therefore the utmost condemnation

Came upon them.”

Once again, we are reflecting on God’s actions in Egypt. The unrighteous ones (ἀδίκους) were tormented by their own abominations. They had accepted various animals as gods (θεοὺς) as if they were unknowing little infants. When they reached the age of reason you mocked their gods with mild rebukes or the so-called plagues. But they did not heed these mild rebukes or plagues. Finally they recognized the true God (Θεὸν ἐπέγνωσαν ἀληθῆ) and thus they received the ultimate condemnation at the end. This was an attempt to justify the killing of the first born of Egypt. The Egyptians should have known better.

Evil men (Prov 17:11-17:15)

“Evil people seek only rebellion.

A cruel messenger will be sent against them.

Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs,

Than to confront a fool immersed in folly.

Evil will not depart from the house

Of one who returns evil for good.

The beginning of strife is

Like letting out water.

So stop before the quarrel breaks out.

Whoever justifies the wicked,

Whoever condemns the righteous,

Are both alike.

They are an abomination to Yahweh.”

The evil people are rebellious. Therefore the good are in favor of the status quo. A cruel messenger will be sent to evil rebels, perhaps the angel of death. You are better off meeting a mama bear with her cubs than trying to confront a fool in his foolishness. Evil will stay in the house of those who return evil for good. A quarrel or strife is like running water. It is better to stop the quarrel before it breaks out. Whether you justify the wicked or condemn the righteous, you are both alike, an abomination before Yahweh.