To dine with him.
Jesus went in.
He took his place
Reclining at the table.”
Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ· εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν
Luke uniquely indicated that while Jesus was speaking (Ἐν δὲ τῷ λαλῆσαι), a Pharisee invited Jesus (ἐρωτᾷ αὐτὸν Φαρισαῖος) to dine with him (ὅπως ἀριστήσῃ παρ’ αὐτῷ). Thus, Jesus went in and took his place reclining at the table (εἰσελθὼν δὲ ἀνέπεσεν). This is the second of 3 times that Jesus will uniquely have a dinner with a Pharisee, earlier in chapter 7:36 and later in chapter 14:1. Earlier Luke had said that one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him. Thus, Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house. He took his place reclining at the table. Then the sinful woman appeared. In each case, the Pharisees were watching Jesus very closely. However, he must have been on speaking terms with these Jewish leaders to get this invitation. Thus, the hostility with the Pharisees did not seem to be personal but rather theological or philosophical over their interpretation of the divine role in Jewish life. Matthew, chapter 15:1, and Mark, chapter 7:1, had a confrontation with the Pharisees and the Scribes who came to Jesus from Jerusalem. The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that became the basis for later Rabbinic Judaism. They had their own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with the letter of the law above its spirit. They had a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple. These Pharisees in the New Testament continually engaged in conflicts with Jesus and his disciples. However, here it will be personal confrontation at a dinner party. Do you have dinner with people that you disagree with?
“One of the Pharisees
Into the Pharisee’s house.
He took his place
Reclining at the table.”
Ἠρώτα δέ τις αὐτὸν τῶν Φαρισαίων ἵνα φάγῃ μετ’ αὐτοῦ· καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Φαρισαίου κατεκλίθη.
Luke uniquely said that one of the Pharisees asked Jesus (Ἠρώτα δέ τις αὐτὸν τῶν Φαρισαίων) to eat with him (ἵνα φάγῃ μετ’ αὐτοῦ). Thus, Jesus went into the Pharisee’s house (καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Φαρισαίου). He took his place reclining at the table (κατεκλίθη). According to Luke, this is the 1st of 3 times that Jesus ate with a Pharisee, with the others coming later in chapter 11:37 and 14:1. In each case, the Pharisees were watching Jesus very closely. However, he must have been on speaking terms with these Jewish leaders to get this invitation. Thus, the hostility with the Pharisees did not seem to be personal but rather theological or philosophical over their interpretation of the divine role in Jewish life. Do you have philosophical differences with any of your friends?
From the very first,
An orderly account
Most excellent Theophilus!”
ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι, κράτιστε Θεόφιλε,
Luke got personal. He said that after he had investigated or became acquainted with everything from the very first (παρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν πᾶσιν). In other words, Luke had studied these issues. He, or as he wrote, it seemed good to him (ἔδοξε κἀμοὶ), decided to write an orderly careful account (ἀκριβῶς καθεξῆς σοι γράψαι) to the most excellent Theophilus (κράτιστε Θεόφιλε). Luke used the second personal singular to address Theophilus as “you”. Who was this Theophilus? The name means literally, lover or friend of God. This may be a name to include all people who love or are friendly with God. However, it may also be a highly literate Christian Roman official, since he is called most excellent (κράτιστε), which is a title of honor. In any case, the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1:1, was also addressed to him. Most of the educated Romans were fluent in Greek.
“I was hungry!
You gave me food!
I was thirsty!
You gave me something
I was a stranger!
You welcomed me!
I was naked!
You gave me
I was sick!
You took care of me!
I was in prison!
You visited me!”
ἐπείνασα γὰρ καὶ ἐδώκατέ μοι φαγεῖν, ἐδίψησα καὶ ἐποτίσατέ με, ξένος ἤμην καὶ συνηγάγετέ με,
γυμνὸς καὶ περιεβάλετέ με, ἠσθένησα καὶ ἐπεσκέψασθέ με, ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην καὶ ἤλθατε πρός με.
This last judgment section is unique to Matthew. Jesus said to the sheep on the right side that they had taken care of him. He said that when he was hungry, they gave him food to eat (ἐπείνασα γὰρ καὶ ἐδώκατέ μοι φαγεῖν). When he was thirsty, they gave him something to drink (ἐδίψησα καὶ ἐποτίσατέ με). When he was a stranger, they kindly took him in (ξένος ἤμην καὶ συνηγάγετέ με). When he was naked, they gave him clothes to wear (γυμνὸς καὶ περιεβάλετέ με). When he was sick, they visited and took care of him (ἠσθένησα καὶ ἐπεσκέψασθέ με). When he was in prison, they came to visit him (ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην καὶ ἤλθατε πρός με). All of this was in the first person singular. This sounds like the beatitudes mentioned earlier in chapter 5:3-11, but here they are more specific and personal.
A Christian is not without contact with God. Prayer in its various forms is the normal contact with the transcendent reality, whatever name we place on it. The ceremony of all religions is the point of contact with the divine. Prayer can and should be both personal and public. Thus, the Christian never forgets the admonition to pray always. He or she remembers the great prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” The importance of prayer is like good communication. Take time to pray. Develop a personal prayer life. Faith without prayer is impossible. Request, give honor, praise, thank, listen, and share verbal and non-verbal prayer. Prayer is the breath of the Christian spiritual life. If we stop praying, it is like as if we stop breathing. Your spiritual life will die without prayer.
We experience God in our community in the celebration of the story of Jesus Christ. The coherent story of Jesus overcomes self-deception. Jesus showed us how to be faithful to others and provides a model for constancy. The Jesus narrative story transforms and empowers us. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the anointed one, the suffering servant. For many the scandal of death by crucifixion was too much. Christ’s resurrection defies scientific verification. This is not just about Jesus of Nazareth, but Jesus, the Lord and Savior. Jesus speaks to our hearts and minds. Jesus lives on with his Holy Spirit in our community when we gather together. There is a personal and social transformation that continually takes place with a deeper and richer understanding of the human person and authentic community. We all have a personal development of our faith. We live our discipleship of Jesus in justice, love and healing as our faith springs into action.
“I am the one
Who has seen affliction
Under the rod
Of God’s wrath.
He has driven me.
He has brought me
Without any light.
Against me alone
He turns his hand
Again and again
All day long.”
These three short verses, instead of one verse, start with the Hebrew consonant letter Aleph. Each section after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this personal acrostic poem or psalm. Using the first person singular, this author proclaims that he has seen a lot of suffering. He has seen affliction, due to the rod or stick of God’s wrath. God drove him into darkness, without any light. God has turned his hand against him alone, over and over again, all day long. He was in great pain.
“King Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh.
‘O Yahweh of hosts!
God of Israel!
You are enthroned above the cherubim!
You alone are God
Of all the kingdoms of the earth.
You have made heaven and earth.
Incline your ear!
Open your eyes!
Hear all the words of King Sennacherib
That he has sent to mock the living God!
The kings of Assyria have laid waste
All the nations with all their lands.
They have hurled their gods into the fire.
They were no gods,
But the work of human hands,
Wood with stone.
So they were destroyed.
I pray you,
From his hand!
Thus all the kingdoms of the earth
May know that you,
Are God alone.’”
Once again, this beautiful prayer of monotheism is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. There is no doubt or question that there is only one God, Yahweh. There are no other gods, since this is the monotheistic religion of Yahweh. There might have been some ambiguity in the past, but not here. This is a personal direct prayer to Yahweh. King Hezekiah cries out to Yahweh, who is almighty in heaven, above all the kingdoms of the earth. He has made heaven and earth as its creator. Now the personal plea comes, as King Hezekiah asks Yahweh to listen to how King Sennacherib of Assyria has mocked Yahweh. It is true that he has destroyed many nations and many gods, but those gods were manmade gods of sticks and stones. King Hezekiah wants Yahweh to show his glory to all the nations of the world by saving Jerusalem.
“A traveled educated person
Knows many things.
One with much experience
Knows what he is talking about.
An inexperienced person
Knows few things.
But he that has traveled
Acquires much cleverness.
I have seen many things
In my travels.
I understand more
Than I can express.
I have often been
In danger of death.
But I have escaped
Because of these experiences.”
Sirach points out the importance of travel for knowledge. The educated well traveled person knows many things. From his experiences, he knows what he is talking about. An inexperienced person only knows a few things. The well traveled person is clever. Then Sirach once again got personal as he said that he had seen many things in his travels. Thus he understands more than he can tell others. He was in danger of death, but he escaped because his experiences helped him out of those situations.
“‘What is crooked cannot be made straight.
What is lacking cannot be counted.’
I said to myself.
‘I have acquired great wisdom.
My wisdom surpasses all
Who were over Jerusalem before me.
My mind has had great experience of wisdom.
My mind has had great experience of knowledge.
I applied my mind to know wisdom.
I applied my mind to know madness.
I applied my mind to know folly.
I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.
In much wisdom
Is much vexation.
Those who increases knowledge
This book once again has the first person singular of Qoheleth speaking. He points out, quite correctly, that the crooked cannot be made straight. However, you can come close. On the other hand, there is no doubt that you cannot count something that is not there. Then Qoheleth gets quite personal. He explains that he has great wisdom and knowledge, greater than anyone whoever was in Jerusalem before him. He knows the difference between wisdom, madness, and folly. In a kind of reversal of the Proverbs, he seems to imply that that with all this wisdom, he is still like chasing after the wind. More problems and vexation come with wisdom. There is an increase in sorrow that comes with more knowledge. Wisdom is not the be all and end all like in Proverbs.