The cost of a building (Lk 14:28-14:28)

“Which of you,

Intending

To build

A tower,

Does not first

Sit down

And calculate

The cost?

You have to see

Whether you have enough

To complete it.”

 

Τίς γὰρ ἐξ ὑμῶν θέλων πύργον οἰκοδομῆσαι οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας ψηφίζει τὴν δαπάνην, εἰ ἔχει εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν;

 

Luke uniquely has Jesus tell this story about intending or wishing to build a tower (Τίς γὰρ ἐξ ὑμῶν θέλων πύργον οἰκοδομῆσαι).  Did they not first sit down (οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας) and calculate the cost (ψηφίζει τὴν δαπάνην)?  They would want to see if they had enough money to complete it (εἰ ἔχει εἰς ἀπαρτισμόν).  Luke uniquely used the word ἀπαρτισμόν that means completion or perfection.  This story about building a tower would assume a sophistication on the part of his audience.  Very few people would have enough assets to build a tower.  Do you calculate the cost of things before you start something?

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Sell what you have (Mk 10:21-10:21)

“Jesus looking

At the man,

Loved him.

Jesus said to him.

‘You lack one thing!

Go!

Sell what you have!

Give the money

To the poor!

You will have treasure

In heaven!

Then come!

Follow me!’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἕν σε ὑστερεῖ· ὕπαγε, ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον καὶ δὸς τοῖς πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι.

 

This call to perfection can be found in Matthew, chapter 19:21, and Luke, chapter 18:22, but slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus looked at this man (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ) and loved him (ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν).  He said to this man (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that he lacked one thing or he fell short in one area (Ἕν σε ὑστερεῖ).  This man would have to go (ὕπαγε) and sell his possessions or whatever he had (ὅσα ἔχεις πώλησον).  Then he should give this money or the proceeds to the poor or destitute people (καὶ δὸς πτωχοῖς).  He no longer would have earthly wealth, but he would then have a treasure in heaven (καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανῷ).  Finally, he could become a follower or accompany Jesus (καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι).  Like many of the sayings in Mark, Jesus had very high standards and difficult demands.  There was no equivocation.

Give up your possessions (Mt 19:21-19:21)

“Jesus said to him.

‘If you wish

To be perfect,

Go!

Sell your possessions!

Give the money

To the poor!

You will have treasure

In heaven.

Come!

Follow me!’”

 

ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι, ὕπαγε πώλησόν σου τὰ ὑπάρχοντα καὶ δὸς πτωχοῖς, καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανοῖς, καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι.

 

This call to perfection can be found in Mark, chapter 10:21, and Luke, chapter 18:22, but slightly different.  Jesus issued his ultimatum (ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) on how to be perfect or complete (Εἰ θέλεις τέλειος εἶναι).  The young man would have to sell his possessions (ὕπαγε πώλησόν σου τὰ ὑπάρχοντα).  Then he would have to give the money proceeds to the poor or destitute people (καὶ δὸς πτωχοῖς).  He no longer would have earthly wealth, but he would then have a treasure in heaven (καὶ ἕξεις θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανοῖς).  Finally, he could become a follower or accompany Jesus (καὶ δεῦρο ἀκολούθει μοι).  Like many of the sayings in Matthew, Jesus has very high standard and difficult demands.  There was no equivocation.

 

Perfect love (Mt 5:46-5:48)

“If you love those

Who love you,

What reward do you have?

Do not even the tax collectors

Do the same?

If you greet only

Your brothers and sisters,

What more are you doing

Than others?

Do not even the gentiles

Do the same?

Therefore,

Be perfect,

As your heavenly Father

Is perfect.”

 

ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς, τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;

καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον, τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε; οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν;

Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι ὡς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν.

 

Once again Matthew and Luke, chapter 6:32-34, are almost the same, perhaps a slightly different use of the Q source.  If you only loved those who loved you (ἐὰν γὰρ ἀγαπήσητε τοὺς ἀγαπῶντας ὑμᾶς), what kind of reward would you get (τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε)?  Even the Roman tax collectors (οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ τελῶναι τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν) love those who love them.  If you only just greet your brothers (καὶ ἐὰν ἀσπάσησθε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὑμῶν μόνον), the members of your own family, what is the big deal or so extraordinary (τί περισσὸν ποιεῖτε)?  Even the gentiles or non-Jewish people (οἱ ἐθνικοὶ), since almost all the followers of Jesus were Jewish, did that (οὐχὶ καὶ οἱ ἐθνικοὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ποιοῦσιν).  If they wanted to be perfect (Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι), like their heavenly Father (ὡς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν), they had to love and greet everyone.  Only Matthew has this emphasis on perfection, completeness, or maturity (τέλειός).

Worship of God

Some worship the almighty dollar that they can see.  Others worship the unknown, the unseen.  No religion is purely transcendent centered, but also involves to some extent the here and now, immanence.  Our happiness comes in becoming part of others, caring for one’s neighbor with an ego-transcending embrace of others.  If we say that God is love, love is many splendid things.  The difficulty is always the ideal versus the reality of what we experience.  We are striving for perfection, not necessarily reaching it.  Thus, we worship this transcendent God in our lives.

The law is my delight (Ps 119:89-119:96)

Lamed

“Yahweh exists forever!

Your word is firmly fixed in heaven.

Your faithfulness endures to all generations.

You have established the earth.

It stands fast.

By your appointment

They stand today.

All things are your servants.

If your law had not been my delight,

I should have perished in my misery.

I will never forget your precepts.

By them,

You have given me life.

I am yours!

Save me!

I have sought your precepts.

The wicked lie in wait

To destroy me.

But I consider your decrees.

I have seen a limit to all perfection.

But your commandment is exceedingly broad.”

Yahweh is eternal in heaven. His faithfulness endures forever. He has established the earth and keeps it going. All things are his servants. This psalmist admits that if he did not have this delightful law, he might have perished in his misery. He would never forget the precepts of Yahweh since they gave him life. He gave himself fully to Yahweh. He relied on Yahweh to save him since he always sought his precepts. However, the wicked lay in wait for him in order to destroy him. The psalmist would consider the decrees of Yahweh and seek perfection because of the broad commandments. So ends this section on the twelfth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Lamed.