The mustard seed (Lk 17:6-17:6)

“The Lord replied.

‘If you had faith

The size of

A mustard seed,

You could say

To this mulberry tree,

‘Be rooted up!

Be planted

In the sea!’’

It would obey you.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως, ἐλέγετε ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ Ἐκριζώθητι καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus, the Lord, replied (εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος) that if they had faith (Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν) the size of a mustard seed (ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), they could say (ἐλέγετε) to this mulberry or sycamore tree (ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ), be rooted up (Ἐκριζώθητι) and planted in the sea (καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ).  Luke is the only biblical writer to use the Greek term συκαμίνῳ that means a black mulberry tree or a sycamore tree that had medicinal value.  Then this tree would obey them (καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν).  There are expanded faith sayings that can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:28-29, and Matthew, chapter 17:19-21, who are much closer to each other.  Matthew indicated that the disciples came to Jesus privately (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ).  They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirits from that boy (κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  Jesus reminded them (ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς) of their little faith (Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν), a term used predominately by Matthew.  Jesus came back with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), like here in Luke, they could move mountains from here to there (ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται).  Nothing would be impossible for them (καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν).  If they had faith with prayer and fasting (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ), they would be able to cast the evil spirits out (τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται).  Matthew continued to emphasize the lack of faith or the little faith of the disciples of Jesus.  Mark said that the disciples wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirit from that boy (Ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό).  The disciples were concerned that they must have lacked something that made it impossible for them to get rid of this evil spirit that was in that boy.  Mark added the need for prayer.  There was no emphasis on faith as in Matthew, where Jesus talked about faith and the mustard seed.  Mark emphasized prayer, as he indicated that Jesus said that this kind of evil spirit could only be expelled (Τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν) through prayer (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ).  Prayer might imply faith, but it is not explicit here in Luke.  Which is more important to you, faith or prayer?

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Increase our faith (Lk 17:5-17:5)

“The apostles said

To the Lord.

‘Increase our faith!’”

 

Καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι τῷ Κυρίῳ Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν.

 

Luke uniquely indicated that the apostles asked the Lord (Καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι τῷ Κυρίῳ) to add or increase their faith (Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν).  Notice that Jesus was called the Lord (Κυρίῳ) here.  Although there are other instances of people having a lack of faith or a strong faith, quite often they were around being healed by Jesus.  This saying was the only instance of the apostles, not merely the disciples, or other followers of Jesus, where they specifically wished to increase or add to their belief.  Do you want to increase your faith?

They were amazed at Jesus (Lk 8:25-8:25)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Where is your faith?’

They were afraid.

Yet they were amazed.

They said

To one another.

‘Who then is this?

He commands

Even the winds

And the water!

They obey him!’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς Ποῦ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν; φοβηθέντες δὲ ἐθαύμασαν, λέγοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους Τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν, ὅτι καὶ τοῖς ἀνέμοις ἐπιτάσσει καὶ τῷ ὕδατι, καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ;

 

Luke indicated that Jesus asked his disciples (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς) where was their faith (Ποῦ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν)?  They were afraid (φοβηθέντες), but amazed (δὲ ἐθαύμασαν) at the same time.  They said to one another (λέγοντες πρὸς ἀλλήλους).  Who is this (Τίς ἄρα οὗτός ἐστιν) that commands (ἐπιτάσσει) even the winds (ὅτι καὶ τοῖς ἀνέμοις) and the water (καὶ τῷ ὕδατι)?  Both the winds and the water obey him (καὶ ὑπακούουσιν αὐτῷ).  This rebuke of Jesus can also be found in Matthew, chapter 8:26-27, and Mark, chapter 4:40-41, in a somewhat similar manner.  Mark said that Jesus then turned to his followers and asked them why they were afraid?  Was it because they still had no faith?  Jesus called out his disciples for their lack of faith or trust, while showing his great power.  Perhaps, this was a slap at some of the early Christian followers of Jesus, who lacked a strong belief in him.  These male disciples of Jesus were filled with great fear or awe.  They said to one another who is this man?  Both the winds and the seas obey or listen to him.  Matthew said that these disciples of Jesus marveled or were amazed at what they had just seen take place.  They wondered out loud what kind of man that Jesus was?  Both the winds and the seas obey him.  Jesus was the Lord of nature and weather.  Do you believe that Jesus can control the winds and the water?

Jesus calms the sea (Lk 8:24-8:24)

“They went

To Jesus.

They woke him up.

Shouting.

‘Master!

Master!

We are perishing!’

Jesus woke up.

He rebuked the wind

And the raging waves.

They ceased.

So that

There was a calm.”

 

προσελθόντες δὲ διήγειραν αὐτὸν λέγοντες Ἐπιστάτα ἐπιστάτα, ἀπολλύμεθα. ὁ δὲ διεγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τῷ ἀνέμῳ καὶ τῷ κλύδωνι τοῦ ὕδατος· καὶ ἐπαύσαντο, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη.

 

Luke said that the disciples went to Jesus (προσελθόντες).  They woke him up (δὲ διήγειραν αὐτὸν), shouting at him (λέγοντες) “Master (Ἐπιστάτα)!  Master (Ἐπιστάτα)!  We are perishing (ἀπολλύμεθα)!”  Jesus then woke up (ὁ δὲ διεγερθεὶς).  He rebuked (ἐπετίμησεν) the wind (τῷ ἀνέμῳ) and the raging water waves (καὶ τῷ κλύδωνι τοῦ ὕδατος), so that they ceased (καὶ ἐπαύσαντο).  Finally, there was a calm sea (καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη).  This waking of Jesus and calming the waters can be found in Matthew, chapter 8:25-26, and Mark chapter 4:38-39, in a somewhat similar fashion.  Matthew said that these disciples went to wake up Jesus.  They cried out to him calling him “the Lord (Κύριε)”.  They wanted to be saved or rescued, because they were dying or facing certain death.  They were definitely afraid and scared.  After waking up, Jesus then turned to his followers and asked them why they were afraid.  Was it because they had little faith?  The unfaithful “ὀλιγόπιστοι” was a favorite word of Matthew.  Then Jesus got up.  He then rebuked or admonished the winds and the sea itself, so that there was a great calm in the air and on the sea.  Jesus called out his disciples for their lack of faith or trust, while showing his great power.  Mark was not as frantic, but he had more details.  He said that Jesus was in the stern or the back of the boat, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke up Jesus as Mark said that they called Jesus “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).”  They said that Jesus did not care if they were perishing, or facing certain death.  They were definitely afraid and scared.  Notice that they did not call Jesus “Lord, Κύριε” as in Matthew, but rather “Teacher, Διδάσκαλε.”  Mark said that after Jesus woke up, he then rebuked or admonished the wind.  Then he spoke to the sea itself, as he told the sea to be silent, peaceful, and still   Thus, the wind abated or was still.  There was a great calmness in the sea.  Do you believe that God controls the wind and the sea?

Jesus appears to the eleven apostles (Mk 16:14-16:14)

“Later,

Jesus appeared

To the eleven themselves,

As they were sitting

At the table.

Jesus upbraided them

For their lack of faith

And stubbornness,

Because they had not believed

Those who saw him

After he had risen.”

 

Ὕστερον δὲ ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ὠνείδισεν τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν.

 

The risen Jesus appearing to the eleven apostles can be found in Matthew, chapter 28:16, but in Galilee, and in Luke, chapter 24:36, in Jerusalem.  John, chapter 20:19 and 26 had 2 appearances of Jesus in Jerusalem, and one in Galilee, chapter 21:1.  Here in this addition to Mark, Jesus appeared to them, probably in Jerusalem.  The apostles were sitting or reclining at the table (Ὕστερον δὲ ἀνακειμένοις αὐτοῖς).  Then Jesus appeared to the 11 (τοῖς ἕνδεκα ἐφανερώθη).  He upbraided or rebuked them (καὶ ὠνείδισεν) for their lack of faith or disbelief (τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν) and their stubbornness or hardness of heart (καὶ σκληροκαρδίαν).  They had not believed (οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν) those who had seen him after his resurrection (ὅτι τοῖς θεασαμένοις αὐτὸν ἐγηγερμένον).  Once again, there were doubters among these 11 apostles about the resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus was not happy about this.

Fourth narrative

The fourth narrative section revealed the increasing opposition to Jesus.  Thus, his disciples had to prepare for his absence.  These instructions emphasized responsibility and humility.  Simon was renamed Peter, the rock upon which he was going to build his church, especially the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus was preaching in the various towns, John the Baptist was put in prison.  The disciples of John questioned Jesus and Jesus responded.  Jesus then asked questions about John.  Was John more than a prophet?  Then Matthew had a series of Old Testament scriptural quotations about John.  How great was John the Baptist?  Was John Elijah?

Jesus warned that this was a childish generation that was indifferent as they kept on eating and drinking, as if nothing important was happening.  Jesus was against the various Galilean cities and towns, especially Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus explained that there were hidden things from the wise ones, especially the relationship of the Father with the Son, but that the disciples had an easy yoke to bear.

Next came the question of eating on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees reacted against Jesus, but he used the example of David and the priests in the Temple to respond to them.  God was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Thus, when Jesus went into the synagogue, they asked him if he would heal anyone on the Sabbath?  Jesus compared sheep to human beings and then healed the man’s hand.  Thus, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus, while he took a low profile.

Jesus said that the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah was at hand in the servant of Yahweh.  Jesus cured the blind and mute man as the crowds were amazed.  However, the Pharisees compared Jesus to Beelzebul, the devil.  Jesus responded that a divided kingdom would not stand.  The Spirit of God was with Jesus.  The bandits tied up people before stealing from them.  You were either for or against Jesus.  They should be aware of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then issued a series of sayings about a tree and its fruit.  He compared the Pharisees to a brood of vipers.  There could be good and bad treasures.  Words would either save or condemn them.

Jesus told them about the sign for this evil generation that was always seeking signs.  He was only going to give them the sign of Jonah.  Notice how the men of Nineveh reacted.  The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon.  The unclean spirit would return with other evil spirits.  The relatives of Jesus, his mother and brothers showed up, but Jesus said that he had a new family.

Then Jesus spoke in parables siting in a boat by the sea.  There was the parable of the sower with his lost seeds, where only a few of the seeds fell on good soil.  His disciples wanted to know why he was speaking in parables, so that Jesus explained why he used parables.  Once again, he referred to a prophecy of Isaiah.  He explained about the seeds on the rocky ground and the seeds among the thorns.  Finally, he explained the meaning of the seeds on good ground or path since they were the blessed ones.

Then there was the parable about the weeds among the wheat.  The slaves let the weeds grow and then separated them at harvest time.  There were other parables about the mustard seed and the yeast.  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, but he explained these parables to his disciples, especially the sower, the field, and the seeds.  He explained the enemy and the burning of the weeds.  The punishment for the weeds came at the harvest end times.  Thus, the reward for the righteous will be at the end times.

The kingdom of heaven was like a treasure, like pearls, and like a fishing net.  Jesus explained the parables because the disciples did not understand them.  They were like new and old treasures.

Jesus was an astonishment in his own home town.  They all knew the family of Jesus.  Thus, he was a prophet without honor in his own country.

Herod thought that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, but he was afraid of John the Baptist.  At his birthday party, Herod granted the wish to have the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s disciples buried him.

Jesus was worried as he was healing the sick people.  The disciples complained about the crowds, so that Jesus told them to give them something to eat.  However, they only had five loaves and two fish.  Then Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and distributed them to the crowd.  There were even leftovers from this crowd of five thousand people.

The disciples left in a boat, so that Jesus prayed alone.  The boat was in the middle of the sea when Jesus walked on water to come to them.   Peter talked to Jesus and then attempted to walk on the water.  Jesus then saved Peter who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Then there were the healings at Gennesaret, where Jesus cured the sick.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus to ask him why his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  Jesus responded by telling them to honor their parents since there was hypocrisy in their traditions.  He cited Isaiah about vain worship.  He told them to hear and understand.  They should watch what came out of their mouth rather than what went into their mouth as defilement.  The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus called them blind guides.  Peter wanted to understand more so that Jesus explained the mouth should speak from the heart.

Jesus went to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon where he met a Canaanite woman.  He said that he was only going to the lost sheep of Israel, but this Canaanite woman persistently asked for help.  Jesus refused again saying that he could not feed the dogs.  However, she responded that dogs eat crumbs from the table.  Jesus said that she had great faith and healed her.

As Jesus healed the crowds of people in the mountain near the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion for them.  Where will they get food?  His disciples said that they had seven loaves.  Jesus then gave thanks over them and distributed the bread to four thousand men as there was a second multiplication of bread loaves.

Jesus went to Magadan.  There the Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven.  Once again, Jesus said that there are weather signs, but he would only give this evil generation the sign of Jonah.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees.  He reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith as he reminded them about the multiplication of the loaves of bread.  They should be worried about the Pharisees not food.

What was the role of Peter?  Jesus asked about the Son of Man as the disciples responded.  Then Jesus asked them about himself.  Peter gave a very positive response, so that Jesus rewarded him.  The Messianic secret was tied to the future of Jesus in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.  He would have to take up his cross if wanted to save his life because the Son of Man in his kingdom would be coming soon.

Jesus took three of his apostles up a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared with him.  Peter wanted to set up three tents for them.  A voice from the cloud came as the three apostles adored him.  Jesus asked them to be silent about this.  What was the role of Elijah and John the Baptist?

An epileptic man knelt before Jesus that his disciples were unable to heal.  Jesus then healed him, so that his disciples wondered why they were unable to heal this epileptic?  Jesus spoke about the future of the Son of Man.  Should they pay the Temple tax?  Jesus responded that the son of the king did not pay taxes, but he told Peter to pay them anyway.

Finally, we have the ecclesiastical discourse about who is the greatest.  A child is the greatest because when you welcome a little child, you welcome Jesus.  They were not to cause children to sin.  They were not to tempt people.  It would be better to be maimed and blind than suffer eternal fire.  They were not to despise the little ones.  Jesus explained the parable of the lost sheep and fraternal correction.  What were you to do with a sinning brother.  Let him become a gentile, if he does not listen.  Common prayer was important so that they should gather in his name.  How often should they forgive?  The response was the seventy times seven.

Then there was the parable of the unforgiving servant slave.  The master settled accounts with servant slaves.  One owed ten thousand talents, so that the king forgave him his debt.  However, this servant slave would not forgive the debt of his fellow slaves, who were angry.  Thus, this unforgiving slave was tortured.  This parable explanation was simple, forgive your brothers.

The response of Jesus (Mt 8:26-8:26)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Why are you afraid?

You of little faith!’

Then he got up.

He rebuked the winds.

He rebuked the sea.

There was a great calm.”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Τί δειλοί ἐστε, ὀλιγόπιστοι; τότε ἐγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τοῖς ἀνέμοις καὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη.

 

This response of Jesus can be found in Mark, chapter 4:39-40, and Luke, chapter 8:24-25, somewhat similar.  After waking up, Jesus then turned to his followers and asked them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς) why they were afraid (Τί δειλοί ἐστε).  Was it because they had little faith (ὀλιγόπιστοι)?  The unfaithful “ὀλιγόπιστοι” was a favorite word of Matthew.  Then Jesus got up (τότε ἐγερθεὶς).  He then rebuked or admonished (ἐπετίμησεν) the winds (τοῖς ἀνέμοις) and the sea itself (καὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ), so that there was a great calm in the air on the sea (καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη).  Jesus called out his disciples for their lack of faith or trust, while showing his great power.