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?

Jesus goes to Judea (Mk 10:1-10:1)

“Jesus left that place.

He went

To the region

Of Judea,

And beyond

The Jordan.

Crowds again

Gathered around him.

As was his custom,

He again taught them.”

 

Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἀναστὰς ἔρχεται εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου, καὶ συνπορεύονται πάλιν ὄχλοι πρὸς αὐτόν, καὶ ὡς εἰώθει πάλιν ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς.

 

This move from Galilee to Judea can also be found in Matthew, chapter 19:1-2, and Luke, chapter 9:51.  Mark said that Jesus rose up and left that place (Καὶ ἐκεῖθεν ἀναστὰς), presumably Galilee.  He went to the region of Judea (ἔρχεται εἰς τὰ ὅρια τῆς Ἰουδαίας) and beyond the Jordan (καὶ πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου).  Thus, Jesus moved south towards Jerusalem.  However, he traveled on the other eastern side of the Jordan River, so that he did not have to go into Samaria.  He definitely was leaving Galilee.  Mark, like Matthew, emphasized the crowds that gathered around Jesus again (καὶ συνπορεύονται πάλιν ὄχλοι πρὸς αὐτόν).  Just as in Galilee, as was his custom (καὶ ὡς εἰώθει), Jesus again began to teach (πάλιν ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς), the people in these crowds in Judea.  Mark had Jesus teaching the crowds instead of healing these people, as in Matthew.

They tie up heavy burdens (Mt 23:4-23:4)

“The Pharisees

And the Scribes

Tie up heavy burdens,

Hard to bear.

They lay them

On the shoulders of others.

But they themselves

Are unwilling to lift a finger

To move them.”

 

δεσμεύουσιν δὲ φορτία βαρέα καὶ ἐπιτιθέασιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὤμους τῶν ἀνθρώπων, αὐτοὶ δὲ τῷ δακτύλῳ αὐτῶν οὐ θέλουσιν κινῆσαι αὐτά.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  However, there is something similar in Luke, chapter 11:46, but there Jesus was talking about a lawyer, who may have been a Pharisaic lawyer of the Law of Moses, who would not help others.  Jesus said that these Pharisees and the Scribes tied up heavy burdens (δεσμεύουσιν δὲ φορτία βαρέα) on the people that were hard or oppressive to bear.  They put these burdens on the shoulders of other men (καὶ ἐπιτιθέασιν ἐπὶ τοὺς ὤμους τῶν ἀνθρώπων), but they themselves were unwilling to lift a finger to help them remove these burdens (αὐτοὶ δὲ τῷ δακτύλῳ αὐτῶν οὐ θέλουσιν κινῆσαι αὐτά).  These heavy burdens of the Torah may have been their multiple perplexing oral interpretations of the law rather than the law itself that was usually considered a blessing.

Yahweh will be a guard (Zech 9:8-9:8)

“Then I will encamp

At my house

As a guard.

Thus,

No one shall march to and fro.

No oppressor

Shall again overrun them.

Now I see

With my own eyes.”

Yahweh was going to be the guard of his house.  People would not be able to move around or overtake it.  Perhaps, this is an allusion to a visit of Alexander the Great to Jerusalem on some of his exploits.  He obviously spared the city.  Thus, no oppressor would be able to overrun them.  Yahweh was going to see all this with his own eyes.

The four wheels (Ezek 10:9-10:13)

“I looked.

There were four wheels

Beside the cherubim.

One beside each cherub.

The appearance of the wheels

Was like gleaming beryl.

As for their appearance,

The four looked alike.

They were something

Like a wheel

Within a wheel.

When they moved,

They moved

In any

Of the four directions

Without veering

As they moved.

But in whatever direction,

The front wheel faced,

The others followed

Without veering

As they moved.

Their entire body,

Their rims,

Their spokes,

Their wings,

The wheels

Were full

Of eyes all around.

The wheels

Of the four of them

Were called,

In my hearing.

‘The wheelwork.’”

This seems to be a description just like in chapter 1 of this work. Ezekiel explained that he saw four wheels beside the cherubim, but they were not lying on the earth as in chapter 1. These wheels appeared like gleaming beryl, some kind of emerald or aquamarine crystals. All the four wheels looked the same, as they seemed to be like wheels within wheels. They could move in any direction without veering away as they moved. They had awesome rims with eyes or spokes, as if they were an all seeing God. However, here they are given a specific name the ‘wheelwork.’

A description of the four wheels (Ezek 1:15-1:18)

“As I looked

At the living creatures,

I saw a wheel

On the earth

Beside the living creatures.

There was

One wheel for each

Of the four of them.

The appearance

Of the wheels was

Like the gleaming

Of beryl.

The four wheels

Had the same likeness.

Their construction

Was like a wheel

Within a wheel.

When they moved,

They moved in any

Of the four directions,

Without veering

As they moved.

Their rims

Were tall.

Their rims

Were awesome.

The rims

Of all four wheels

Were full

Of eyes all around.”

Ezekiel explained that he saw four wheels laying on the earth for each of the four living creatures. The appearance of these wheels was like gleaming beryl, some kind of emerald or aquamarine crystal. All of the four wheels looked the same, as they seemed to be like wheels within wheels. They could move in any direction without veering away as they moved. They had tall awesome rims. They had eyes or spokes, as if they were an all seeing creatures.

The wings of the four living creatures (Ezek 1:8-1:9)

“Under their wings,

On their four sides,

They had human hands.

The four creatures

Had their faces

With their wings

In this manner.

Their wings touched

One another.

Each of them

Moved straight ahead,

Without turning,

As they moved.”

Apparently these creatures had 4 sides, not merely 2 sides. They had human hands under their wings. Each of the 4 wings on each creature touched each other, just like the seraphim in the Holy of Holies in the sanctuary. They were able to move or walk straight ahead without turning.