The Pharisee dinner (Lk 11:37-11:37)

“While Jesus

Was speaking,

A Pharisee

Invited Jesus

To dine with him.

Thus,

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?

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Eating with the Pharisees (Lk 7:36-7:36)

“One of the Pharisees

Asked Jesus

To eat

With him.

Jesus went

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?

You took care of me (Mt 25:35-25:36)

“I was hungry!

You gave me food!

I was thirsty!

You gave me something

To drink!

I was a stranger!

You welcomed me!

I was naked!

You gave me

Clothing!

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.

Prayer

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.

Christian Community

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.

 

Personal suffering (Lam 3:1-3:3)

Aleph

“I am the one

Who has seen affliction

Under the rod

Of God’s wrath.

He has driven me.

He has brought me

Into darkness

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.