The parable about the rented vineyard (Lk 20:9-20:9)

“Jesus began

To tell the people

This parable.

‘A man planted

A vineyard.

He leased it

To tenants.

He went to another country

For a long time.’”

 

Ἤρξατο δὲ πρὸς τὸν λαὸν λέγειν τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην. ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς, καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν χρόνους ἱκανούς.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus began to tell the people another parable (Ἤρξατο δὲ πρὸς τὸν λαὸν λέγειν τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην) about a certain man who planted a vineyard (ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα).  He then leased it to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  However, he went abroad to another country for a long time (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν χρόνους ἱκανούς).  This parable about the absentee vineyard landowner can also be found in Matthew, chapter 21:33, and Mark, chapter 12:1, with more details about this vineyard.  Mark said that Jesus began to speak to them in parables (Καὶ ἤρξατο αὐτοῖς ἐν παραβολαῖς λαλεῖν).  This story was about a male landowner who planted a vineyard (ἀμπελῶνα ἄνθρωπος ἐφύτευσεν).  He then put a fence around this vineyard (καὶ περιέθηκεν φραγμὸν) and dug a wine press (καὶ ὤρυξεν ὑπολήνιον).  He even built a fortified watchtower (καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον), so that it was a very nice vineyard.  This story is reminiscent of the allegory of the vineyard from Isaiah, chapter 5:1-2.  Isaiah had a song about a friend’s fertile field.  He also dug out stones and planted choice vines.  He put a tower in the middle to look over the vineyard with a carved wine vat there also.  However, he got bad grapes instead of good grapes.  Clearly, he did not get what he expected.  However, this landowner here leased his land or rented it to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  Then he left that region and went away to another country (καὶ ἀπεδήμησεν).  Matthew also indicated that Jesus wanted them to listen to another parable (Ἄλλην παραβολὴν ἀκούσατε) about a male landowner (Ἄνθρωπος ἦν οἰκοδεσπότης), who planted a vineyard (ὅστις ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα).  He then put a fence around it (καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκεν) and dug a wine press in it (καὶ ὤρυξεν ἐν αὐτῷ ληνὸν).  He even built a fortified watchtower (καὶ ᾠκοδόμησεν πύργον).  This seemed like a very nice vineyard, much like in Mark.  However, this landowner also leased or rented this land to farmer tenants (καὶ ἐξέδετο αὐτὸν γεωργοῖς).  Then he left that region and went away to another country (ἀπεδήμησεν).  These last two things, renting and leaving the land, will cause him a problem.  Have you had a problem with tenants?

Towards Jerusalem (Lk 17:11-17:11)

“On the way to Jerusalem,

Jesus was going through

The region

Between Samaria

And Galilee.”

 

Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ, καὶ αὐτὸς διήρχετο διὰ μέσον Σαμαρίας καὶ Γαλιλαίας

 

Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers.  Luke indicated that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem (Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἱερουσαλὴμ).  He went through a region between Samaria and Galilee (καὶ αὐτὸς διήρχετο διὰ μέσον Σαμαρίας καὶ Γαλιλαίας).  Jesus continued heading towards Jerusalem so that he had to pass through this Samaritan area that was next to Galilee.  Luke had already shown a greater openness to the Samaritans than the other gospel writers.  Are you open to neighbors who do not think like you do?

Gerasenes (Lk 8:26-8:26)

“Then they arrived

At the country

Of the Gerasenes,

Which is opposite Galilee.”

 

Καὶ κατέπλευσαν εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἀντιπέρα τῆς Γαλιλαίας.

 

Luke said that Jesus and his disciples sailed down (Καὶ κατέπλευσαν) to the country of the Gerasenes (εἰς τὴν χώραν τῶν Γερασηνῶν), which was opposite Galilee (ἥτις ἐστὶν ἀντιπέρα τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 8:28, Mark, chapter 5:1, as well as Luke here, have Jesus cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  They went to the country or region of the Gerasenes.  Matthew called it Gadarenes, while Luke called it Gerasenes, like Mark.  This might be one of two different towns on the east bank of the Jordan in the Decapolis territory, a group of 10 cities.  One was called Gadara, about 6 miles away from the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee, near where the Sea of Galilee ran into the Jordan River.  Today, it is in the country of Jordan, known as Umm Qais.  The other Decapolis town was called Gerasa, a town about 40 miles from the Sea of Galilee, which would be more inconsistent with this story.  Nevertheless, this was Gentile territory with only a few Jewish people there.  Jesus had traveled over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to its southern tip, to one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis territory.  Have you ever traveled to an area where they had different religious beliefs than you?

The surrounding area (Lk 4:37-4:37)

“A report

About Jesus

Began to reach

Every place

In the region.”

 

καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο ἦχος περὶ αὐτοῦ εἰς πάντα τόπον τῆς περιχώρου.

 

This is very similar, to Mark, chapter 1:28.  Luke said that a report about Jesus was spreading (καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο ἦχος περὶ αὐτοῦ) into everywhere throughout all the surrounding region or neighboring area (εἰς πάντα τόπον τῆς περιχώρου).  Luke did not mention Galilee the way that Mark did.  Suddenly, Jesus was famous, a celebrity in the area around Capernaum.

Preaching a baptism of repentance (Lk 3:3-3:3)

“John went

Into all the region

Around the Jordan River.

He was proclaiming

A baptism

Of repentance

For the forgiveness

Of sins.”

 

καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν,

 

This section of Luke is very similar to all the other 4 gospel stories.  Luke explicitly said that John went into all the region around the Jordan River (καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν περίχωρον τοῦ Ἰορδάνου).  Mark, chapter 1:4, had the simple statement that John the Baptizer, appeared in the wilderness or desert, without mentioning the Jordan River.  However, Luke was actually closer to Mark, since he used the exact same words about John’s preaching.  He indicated that John was proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).  Matthew, chapter 3:2, said that the preaching message of John was very simple.  They should repent, turn their lives around, with a profound metanoia, a change of their spirit.  The equivalent about repentance, metanoia, or the change of heart can also be found in both Mark and Luke.  Matthew had John say that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, coming near.  The other canonical gospel writers did not use this term “kingdom of heaven.”  John, chapter l:19-29, had a long dialogue with John and the priests and Levites about what he was doing.  How and what John did before or after this preaching in the wilderness did not matter.  He was there proclaiming a baptism of repentance, a life change, or a metanoia, to have sins or faults forgiven or wiped away.

The historical setting (Lk 3:1-3:1)

“In the fifteenth year,

Of the reign

Of Emperor Tiberius,

Pontius Pilate was

Governor of Judea.

Herod was the ruler

Of Galilee.

His brother Philip

Was the ruler

Of the region

Of Ituraea,

And Trachonitis.

Lysanias was the ruler

Of Abilene.”

 

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,

 

Luke tried to set the public activities of John and Jesus within a larger historical context.  Thus, here he said that it was the 15th year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Herod was the tetrarch ruler of Galilee (καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου,).  Herod’s brother Philip was the tetrarch ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis (Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας), while Lysanias was the tetrarch ruler of Abilene (καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος).  Who and what is this all about?  Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14-37 CE.  15 years into his rule would be the year 29 CE.  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, but also Samaria to the north, and Idumea to the south, from 26-36 CE, so that this time frame is consistent.  Herod Antipas and Philip were the sons of Herod the Great (37-4 BC).  Herod Antipas ruled as tetrarch of northern Galilee and Perea that was east of the Jordan River from 4 BCE-39 CE.  His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis that were north of Galilee from 4 BCE-34 CE.  Finally, some unknown leader named Lysanias ruled as the tetrarch of Abilene that was north of Damascus, but included Lebanon.  Thus, these were all the rulers of the area where John and Jesus might have traveled within this time frame

The shepherds (Lk 2:8-2:8)

“In that region

There were shepherds

Camping out

In the fields.

They were

Keeping watch

Over their flock

At night.”

 

Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀγραυλοῦντες καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν.

 

Luke had a special emphasis on these common shepherds in the fields, while Matthew had the important Magi get a special sign or star.  Luke said that in that same region of Bethlehem (ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ), there were shepherds (Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν) living or camping out in the fields (ἀγραυλοῦντες).  They were keeping watch over their flock of sheep at night (καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν).  They were doing their jobs as shepherds watching their sheep at nighttime.  Perhaps there was a connection between these shepherds and the young shepherd David in the fields of Bethlehem in 1 Samuel, chapter 16:6-13.  This may have been Luke showing concern for the common people as expressed in these shepherds.