Bear testimony (Lk 21:13-21:13)

“This will give you

An opportunity

To testify.”

 

ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that this persecution would give them an opportunity (ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν) to testify as a witness or a martyr (εἰς μαρτύριον).  This verse is somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 13:10, with a hint of this in Matthew, chapter 24:14.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the good news of the gospel (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον) must first be proclaimed (πρῶτον δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι) to all the gentile nations (καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη).  That would be a difficult task, certainly putting the end times at a further distance.  This mission to the gentile nations was a trademark of the Gospel of Mark with its emphasis on the gentile non-Jewish Christians.  Matthew had the same idea in chapter 10:22, and also in chapter 24:14, where Jesus said that this gospel, this good news of the kingdom (τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας) would be preached (καὶ κηρυχθήσεται) throughout the whole inhabited world (ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ), as a witness or testimony to all the gentile nations (εἰς μαρτύριον πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).  Then the end would come (καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος).  Matthew seemed to set a precondition before the coming of the end times that the gospel would be preached throughout the whole known world.  Luke was more restrained here simply saying that there was an opportunity to be a witness or martyr.  Would you be a Christian martyr?

Bad things ahead (Lk 19:44-19:44)

“They will crush you

To the ground,

You

And your children

Within you.

They will not leave

Within you

One stone

Upon another.

You did not recognize

The time of your visitation

From God.”                                                                

 

καὶ ἐδαφιοῦσίν σε καὶ τὰ τέκνα σου ἐν σοί, καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσουσιν λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον ἐν σοί, ἀνθ’ ὧν οὐκ ἔγνως τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the enemies would crush Jerusalem to the ground (καὶ ἐδαφιοῦσίν σε).  Luke was the only one among all the Greek biblical writers to use this word ἐδαφιοῦσίν, that means to raze, dash to the ground, or level with the ground.  Jesus used the second personal singular, when he said that the city along with their children or inhabitants (καὶ τὰ τέκνα σου ἐν σοί) would be destroyed.  Their enemies would not leave one stone upon another in that city (καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσουσιν λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον ἐν σοί), because the people of Jerusalem had not recognized the time of the visitation from God (ἀνθ’ ὧν οὐκ ἔγνως τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου), Jesus himself.  In predicting the future fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, Jesus projected many of the same warnings that the Israelite and Judean prophets had proclaimed before the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BCE.  The people of Jerusalem had failed to recognize what was happening around them.  Are you aware of your situation in the city that you live?

The good news (Lk 16:16-16:16)

“The law

And the prophets

Were in effect

Until John came.

Since then,

The good news

Of the kingdom of God

Is proclaimed.

Everyone

Tries to enter it

By force.”

 

Ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται μέχρι Ἰωάνου· ἀπὸ τότε ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ εὐαγγελίζεται καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that the law (Ὁ νόμος) and the prophets (καὶ οἱ προφῆται) were in effect until John came (μέχρι Ἰωάνου).  Since then (ἀπὸ τότε), the good news has been proclaimed (εὐαγγελίζεται) about the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Everyone tries to enter it by force (καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται).  The law and the prophets were the two major parts of the Hebrew Bible.  John the Baptist represented some sort of turning point.  His preaching about the kingdom of God meant that the days of the law and prophets were numbered.  There is something similar, but in a different context with a different meaning in Matthew, chapter 11:12-13.  There Jesus talked about the days of John the Baptist until the present (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι), not a very long time.  The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence (ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται).  What kind of violence was taking place in the heavenly kingdom?  Did this mean that so many people were violently seeking the kingdom of heaven that John was talking about?  Is this some kind of violence within the kingdom of heaven?  Were these violent people trying to get into the kingdom of heaven?  The next sentence seems to support this idea that violent people wanted to seize the kingdom of heaven by force (καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν).  In Matthew, chapter 17:11-13, Jesus compared John to Elijah.  Like here in Luke, all the prophets and the law had prophesied until the time of John the Baptist (πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάνου ἐπροφήτευσαν).  Then Jesus said that John was the new Elijah (αὐτός ἐστιν Ἡλείας), the one who was to come (ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι).  However, they had to be willing to accept this (καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι).  Anyone who had ears to hear should listen to this (ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω).  Clearly, something fundamental changed with John the Baptist and his proclamation of the kingdom of God.  How were John and Jesus connected in their preaching?  What is your opinion about John the Baptist?

All will be revealed (Lk 12:3-12:3)

“Therefore,

Whatever you have said

In the dark,

Will be heard

In the light.

What you have whispered

In the ear,

Behind closed doors,

Will be proclaimed

From the housetops.”

 

ἀνθ’ ὧν ὅσα ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ εἴπατε ἐν τῷ φωτὶ ἀκουσθήσεται, καὶ ὃ πρὸς τὸ οὖς ἐλαλήσατε ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις κηρυχθήσεται ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus remarked that whatever they had said in the dark (ἀνθ’ ὧν ὅσα ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ εἴπατε) would be heard in the light (ἐν τῷ φωτὶ ἀκουσθήσεται).  What they have whispered in the ear behind closed doors (καὶ ὃ πρὸς τὸ οὖς ἐλαλήσατε ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις) would be proclaimed from the housetops (κηρυχθήσεται ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων).  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:27, indicating a Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus told his disciples that he told them in the dark (ὃ λέγω ὑμῖν ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ), they were to utter and tell it in the light (εἴπατε ἐν τῷ φωτί).  Whatever they heard whispered in their ear (καὶ ὃ εἰς τὸ οὖς ἀκούετε), they were to proclaim it from the housetops (κηρύξατε ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων).  They were to proclaim the good news loud and clear in the light of day.  Do you let people know about what you have heard secretly?

Who is the greatest? (Lk 9:46-9:46)

“And an argument arose

Among the disciples

As to which one

Of them

Was the greatest.”

 

Εἰσῆλθεν δὲ διαλογισμὸς ἐν αὐτοῖς, τὸ τίς ἂν εἴη μείζων αὐτῶν.

 

Luke said that an argument arose among the disciples of Jesus (Εἰσῆλθεν δὲ διαλογισμὸς ἐν αὐτοῖς) as to which one of them was the greatest (τὸ τίς ἂν εἴη μείζων αὐτῶν).  This question about the greatest can also be found in Matthew, chapter 18:1, Mark, chapter 9:33-34, and here, with some changes.  Mark said that Jesus asked them what they were discussing or arguing about on the way there.  Jesus knew that they had been talking about something that was a little heated.  Instead of coming to Jesus, as in Matthew, Mark had Jesus go to the disciples.  They were silent when Jesus asked them what they were talking about on their travels.  In fact, they had been arguing or discussing among themselves on the way there, who was the greatest.  Mark never mentioned the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, but just the greatest in general.  The late Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) always proclaimed that he was the greatest, without indicating what he was the greatest at.  They were looking for some sort of status.  Matthew said that the disciples came to Jesus with this question, instead of arguing among themselves.  They asked him who was the greatest in the kingdom of the heaven?  They were looking for some sort of status in a gnostic concept of a higher and lower status people.  After all, they were the important disciples of Jesus.  Who do you think is the greatest disciple of Jesus?

Peter responds (Lk 9:20-9:20)

“Jesus said to them.

‘But who do you say

That I am?’

Peter answered.

‘The Messiah,

The Christ

Of God.’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς Ὑμεῖς δὲ τίνα με λέγετε εἶναι; Πέτρος δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Τὸν Χριστὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ

 

Luke indicated that Jesus asked his disciples (εἶπεν δὲ αὐτοῖς) who did they say that he was (Ὑμεῖς δὲ τίνα με λέγετε εἶναι)?  Peter answered (Πέτρος δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς) that he was the Messiah, the Christ of God (εἶπεν Τὸν Χριστὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This same question and response of Peter can be found in Matthew, chapter 16:15-17, Mark, chapter 6:29 and John, 6:69, but all slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus was questioning his disciples who was it that they thought or said that he was.  Jesus thus put them to the test.  This was not about what others said or thought, but about their understanding of Jesus.  Who did they think Jesus was?  Mark said that Peter replied to the generic question of Jesus immediately.  He said that Jesus was the Christ or the Messiah that they were expecting in Israel.  Matthew indicated that Jesus asked his disciples who they thought or said that he was.  Was he the Son of Man or someone else?  Simon Peter replied to the question of Jesus immediately.  He said that Jesus was the Christ or the Messiah that they were expecting in Israel.  Jesus was the son of the living God, not just merely the son of God.  Peter, as the leader of this new group of Jesus followers, asserted this important belief about Jesus.  For the first time, Jesus was called the Christ, the Messiah.  Here Peter, in the name of the nascent Christian community, proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ.  Are the Greek “Christ” and the Hebrew “Messiah” the same?  Matthew was the only one who had Peter say that Jesus was the son of the living God.  Matthew was also the only one that mentioned the special relationship that Peter had with his Father in heaven.  However, Peter gave a strong positive response in all four versions.  Matthew also had Jesus respond to Peter, but that was not in Mark or Luke.  Jesus said that Simon was blessed, because flesh and blood or humans had not revealed this saying of his, but Jesus’ heavenly Father had done so.  Thus, Peter had a special relationship with the Father in heaven.  Peter, as the leader of this new group of Jesus followers, asserted this important belief about Jesus.  Matthew, more than any of the other gospel writers, emphasized the role of Peter as the leader of the early Christian community, the disciples, and the apostles of Jesus.  Who is your human Christian leader?

The gospel preaching of John (Lk 3:18-3:18)

“Thus,

With many other exhortations,

John proclaimed

The good news gospel

To the people.”

 

Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν·

 

Only Luke has this explanation that John the Baptist with many other exhortations (Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἕτερα παρακαλῶν), other than those recounted here, proclaimed the good news to the people (εὐηγγελίζετο τὸν λαόν).  Was this the same good news or gospel (εὐηγγελίζετο) that Jesus would later preach?  Luke was the only one among the other gospel writers who linked John and Jesus as relatives in chapter 1:36.  John’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jesus’ mother, Mary, were relatives of some sort, thus making their children relatives or cousins also.  They could be compared in some ways to Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One was superior to the other, but the other played an indispensable role.  John the Baptist was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early first century CE.  He used baptism, some kind of dipping in water, as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement.  Thus, he became known as the one who baptizes, the Baptizer, John the Baptist.  This John certainly had a relationship with Jesus, but the exact relationship between John and Jesus is also problematic.  They may have originally been co-workers.  However, they separated as Jesus went along a different route.  However, the shadow of John the Baptist appeared again and again in the biblical stories about Jesus and his apostles.  Some believe that Jesus may have been an early follower or disciple of John, but the textual indications are that John saw himself as clearly subservient to Jesus.  Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John, such as the apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon, in John, chapter 1:40, and in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 19:2-6.  There may have been also some contact between John the Baptist and the Qumran-Essene community, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  John might have been associated with them or part of their community for a while.  Thus, John the Baptist has been revered as a prophet and a Christian saint throughout the centuries.