Pray (Lk 18:1-18:1)

“Then Jesus told them

A parable

About the need

To pray always.

Do not grow weary!”

 

Ἔλεγεν δὲ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ μὴ ἐνκακεῖν,

 

Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the judge to emphasize the importance of prayer.  Right from the beginning, he had Jesus tell them the purpose of the parable, rather than a secret that they would have to figure out.  Then Jesus told them a parable (Ἔλεγεν δὲ παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς) about the need or duty to always pray (πρὸς τὸ δεῖν πάντοτε προσεύχεσθαι αὐτοὺς).  They were not to lose heart or grow weary (καὶ μὴ ἐνκακεῖν).  Do you remember to always pray?

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?

Evil people give good gifts (Lk 11:13-11:13)

“If you then,

Who are evil,

Know how

To give good gifts

To your children,

How much more

Will the heavenly Father

Give the Holy Spirit

To those

Who ask him!”

 

εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὑπάρχοντες οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν, πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ Πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δώσει Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that if they, who are evil (εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὑπάρχοντες), know how to give good gifts (οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι) to their children (τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν), how much more (πόσῳ μᾶλλον) will the heavenly Father (ὁ Πατὴρ ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ) give the Holy Spirit (δώσει Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον) to those who ask him (τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν).  This saying of Jesus is almost the same as in Matthew, chapter 7:11, indicating a common Q source.  Luke alone mentioned giving the Holy Spirit instead of just giving good things, as in Matthew, who said that even the evil humans (εἰ οὖν ὑμεῖς πονηροὶ ὄντες), know how to give good gifts to their children (οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι τοῖς τέκνοις ὑμῶν).  How much more will your heavenly Father (πόσῳ μᾶλλον ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς) give you good things (δώσει ἀγαθὰ), if you were to ask for them (τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν αὐτόν).  Ask, and it will be granted.  Prayer to the heavenly Father is easy.  The Holy Spirit and good things are simply awaiting your request.  What kind of requests do you make to God, the Father?

He will get up (Lk 11:8-11:8)

“I tell you!

Even though

He will not get up

And give him anything,

Because he is his friend,

At least,

Because of his persistence,

He will get up.

He will give him

Whatever he needs.”

 

λέγω ὑμῖν, εἰ καὶ οὐ δώσει αὐτῷ ἀναστὰς διὰ τὸ εἶναι φίλον αὐτοῦ, διά γε τὴν ἀναιδίαν αὐτοῦ ἐγερθεὶς δώσει αὐτῷ ὅσων χρῄζει.

 

Luke uniquely brought this parable story about waking up a friend at midnight to a surprise ending.  In this conclusion, Jesus proclaimed solemnly (λέγω ὑμῖν), that even though this friend will not get up and give him anything (εἰ καὶ οὐ δώσει αὐτῷ ἀναστὰς), because he was his friend (διὰ τὸ εἶναι φίλον αὐτοῦ), at least, because of his persistence (διά γε τὴν ἀναιδίαν αὐτοῦ), he will get up (ἐγερθεὶς) and give him whatever he needed (δώσει αὐτῷ ὅσων χρῄζει).  Problem solved, as persistence was better than friendship.  In a complete turnaround, this friend offered his requesting persistent neighbor friend whatever he wanted.  That’s what friends are for.  However, it was the persistence rather than the friendship that led him to act.  So that is the moral of this story.  Perseverance in prayer to the Father will lead to success.  Do you persist in prayer to God?

Forgiveness (Lk 11:4-11:4)

“Forgive us

Our sins!

We ourselves

Forgive everyone

Indebted to us.”

 

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν·

Luke indicated that Jesus said that we should ask the Father to forgive our sins (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν).  Afterall, we ourselves have forgiven everyone indebted to us (καὶ γὰρ αὐτοὶ ἀφίομεν παντὶ ὀφείλοντι ἡμῖν).  Matthew, chapter 6:12, said that we should ask the Father to forgive our debts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν).  This includes whatever we owe to God, because our sins have put us in debt to God.  If we ask for forgiveness, that assumes that we have forgiven our own debtors (ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν).  This saying about forgiveness seems similar to Matthew, chapter 6:14-15, that came right after the “Our Father” prayer.  Basically, the heavenly Father would forgive those people who have forgiven others for their missteps or trespasses.  On the other hand, if you did not forgive others, your heavenly Father would not forgive you your trespasses.  You can see how the idea of trespasses, instead of debtors, came to be part of the “Our Father.”  Mark, chapter 11:25, indicated that Jesus said that whenever they would stand and pray, they should forgive others, especially if they have anything against anyone.  Then their heavenly Father would forgive them for their missteps or trespasses.  What are these trespasses?  The Greek word “τὰ παραπτώματα” means to fall away after being close, a lapse, a deviation from the truth, an error, a slip up, relatively unconscious, or non-deliberate.  Apparently, this was not a serious offense, something like daily implied insensitive insults.  However, they still had to forgive the trespasses of others to be forgiven by the heavenly father.  You can see how the idea of trespasses took on a greater significance over debtors in this great prayer to the Father.  Do you forgive other people?

Old Anna lived in the Temple (Lk 2:37-2:37)

“Then Anna lived

As a widow

To the age of eighty-four.

She never left

The Temple.

She worshiped there

With fasting

And prayer,

Night and day.”

 

καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων, ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν.

 

Next Luke spoke about how this old female prophet, Anna was a widow, living in the Temple, worshiping and fasting day and night.  Thus, she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four (καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ἕως ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων).  She never left the Temple (ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο τοῦ ἱεροῦ).  She worshiped or served there with fasting and prayer (νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα), night and day (νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν).  She was a very devout old Jewish lady.  Once again, Luke indicated that she was a widow that did not remarry, but dedicated herself to the Temple worship.

The prayer of Mary (Lk 1:46-1:46)

“Mary said.

‘My soul

Magnifies

The Lord!’”

 

Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον,

 

Next Luke has a series of canticles or songs.  This first canticle of Mary is modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:1-10, that praised Yahweh. Hannah had prayed for a son.  Thus, she had a semi-miracle son called Samuel.  She wanted him to be dedicated like a Nazirite.  This prayer of Hannah took place after she had dedicated her 3-year-old son to Yahweh.  Thus, Samuel grew up with the prophet Eli.  Hannah and Samuel then became the prototypes for Mary and Jesus.  Luke indicated that Mary said (Καὶ εἶπεν Μαριάμ) that her soul magnified, extended, or enlarged the Lord (ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον).  Thus, this Marian canticle became known as the “Magnificat,” after the Latin translated word used here.