Tribute to Caesar (Lk 20:22-20:22)

“Is it lawful

For us

To pay taxes

To Caesar,

The Roman Emperor,

Or not?”

 

ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ;

 

Luke indicated this group asked whether it was lawful for them (ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς) to pay taxes (φόρον δοῦναι) to Caesar (Καίσαρι), the Roman Emperor, or not (ἢ οὔ)?  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Mark, chapter 12:14, but slightly different.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Matthew indicated that these Pharisee disciples and the Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax.  They asked him (εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν) what did he think (τί σοι δοκεῖ).  Was it lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  Jesus, on the other hand, had a milder view of these tax collectors.  He appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians were there.  The Israelites with the Pharisees were there also.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.  Do you like to pay taxes?

Zacchaeus defends himself (Lk 19:8-19:8)

“Zacchaeus stood there.

He said

To the Lord.

‘Look!

Lord!

I will give

To the poor

Half of my possessions.

If I have defrauded

Anyone of anything,

I will pay back

Four times as much.’”

 

σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, Κύριε, τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν.

 

Luke indicated that Zacchaeus stood there (σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος).  He then said to the Lord Jesus (εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Κύριον), calling him Lord (Κύριε) that he was willing to give to the poor (τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι) half of his possessions (Ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσειά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων).  He said that if he had defrauded anyone of anything (καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα), he was willing to pay it back 4 times as much (ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν).  Once again, Luke used the Greek word ἐσυκοφάντησα, that means to accuse falsely or defraud people, that was not found in any of the other Greek biblical writers.  Zacchaeus made a big deal about how he was not like the other tax collectors.  Despite his wealth, he was willing to give half of it away to some unnamed poor people.  Anytime, he was accused of defrauding people, he would give them 4 times what they were claiming.  This restoration of 4 times goes back to Exodus, chapter 22:1, about stealing sheep.  The thief had to pay four sheep for any one stolen sheep.  Thus, Zacchaeus seemed like a very fair person, leaning over backwards to help people.  Yet he was still wealthy.  Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus.  How do you treat people who claim that you are defrauding them?

He forgave both of them (Lk 7:42-7:42)

“When they could not pay,

He cancelled

The debt

For both of them.

Now which of them

Will love him more?”

 

μὴ ἐχόντων αὐτῶν ἀποδοῦναι ἀμφοτέροις ἐχαρίσατο. τίς οὖν αὐτῶν πλεῖον ἀγαπήσει αὐτόν;

 

Luke continued this unique comparison that Jesus was making.  Jesus said that when both of these debtors could not pay their debt (μὴ ἐχόντων αὐτῶν ἀποδοῦναι), this creditor cancelled both their debts (ἀμφοτέροις ἐχαρίσατο).  Then Jesus asked which of these two debtors would love this creditor more (τίς οὖν αὐτῶν πλεῖον ἀγαπήσει αὐτόν)?  This was a simple question.  If someone forgave you $125.00 or $12.50, would you be happy?  Obviously, the one with the larger amount would be happier and love the creditor more.  Notice that both of them could not pay their debt.  Have you ever been unable to pay a debt?

Render to Caesar (Mk 12:17-12:17)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Give to the emperor Caesar

The things

That are the emperor Caesar’s.

Give to God

The things

That are God’s.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Τὰ Καίσαρος ἀπόδοτε Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ.

 

There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 22:21, and in Luke, chapter 20:25, almost word for word.  Mark said that Jesus responded to them (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) by telling them to give to the Roman emperor Caesar the things that belonged to the emperor (Τὰ Καίσαρος ἀπόδοτε Καίσαρι).  At the same time, they should give to God the things that belong to God (καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ).  Jesus appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies, as he also had a milder view of their tax collectors.  With this ambiguous answer, Jesus avoided offending Jewish nationalists and the Roman Empire party and its officials.  Thus, the Roman and Jewish parties were both satisfied and unsatisfied at the same time.  If everything belonged to God, do not pay this tax.  If everything belonged to the Roman empire, pay the tax.  The choice was theirs.  He was not going to tell them what to do.  This statement of Jesus has become the basic Christian understanding of the relationships between religious church organizations and state civic organizations.

The Son of Man came to serve (Mk 10:45-10:45)

“The Son of man

Came

Not to be served,

But to serve.

He came

To give his life

As a ransom for many.”

 

καὶ γὰρ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 20:28, almost word for word.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the Son of Man came not to be served (καὶ γὰρ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἦλθεν διακονηθῆναι), but to serve others (ἀλλὰ διακονῆσαι).  He was going to give his life (καὶ δοῦναι τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) as a ransom for many people (λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν).  This ransom or freeing of slaves was a divine liberation from the slavery of sin.  Quite often in the Old Testament, Yahweh said that he was going to save his people, the Israelites.  Jesus was going to pay the penalty of death.  Thus, he ransomed a great number of people from their sins or their debts.  Thus, this is an indication of redemptive salvation.

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 third and fourth group of laborers (Mt 20:5-20:5)

“When the landowner

Went out again

About noon,

The sixth hour,

And about three o’clock,

The ninth hour,

He did the same.”

 

πάλιν δὲ ἐξελθὼν περὶ ἕκτην καὶ ἐνάτην ὥραν ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως.

 

Jesus continued with this parable that is unique to Matthew.  This landowner needed more workers so that every 3 hours, he went into the marketplace to see if there were any day workers available.  Thus, this landowner of the vineyards went out again (πάλιν δὲ ἐξελθὼν) about noon, the sixth hour (περὶ ἕκτην), and about 3:00 PM, the ninth hour (καὶ ἐνάτην ὥραν).  He did the same (ἐποίησεν ὡσαύτως) as he had done at the third hour or 9 AM.  He asked them to work in the vineyard and he would pay them whatever was right, fair or just, without a specific agreed wage.