The signs (Lk 21:25-21:25)

“There will be signs

In the sun,

The moon,

And the stars.

On the earth,

There will be

Anxious distress

Among the nations

With the roaring noise

Of the sea

And the swelling waves.”

 

Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα ἐν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ ἄστροις, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης καὶ σάλου,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that there would be signs (Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα) in the sun (ἐν ἡλίῳ), in the moon (αὶ σελήνῃ), and in the stars (καὶ ἄστροις).  On the earth (καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), there would be anxious distress among the gentile nations (συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ) because of the roaring noise of the sea (ἤχους θαλάσσης) and the swelling waves (καὶ σάλου).  This was a unique use of the term ἀπορίᾳ that means perplexity, anxiety, or doubt, not found elsewhere in the Greek biblical literature.  This Jesus saying is similar to Matthew, chapter 24:29, that is actually closer to Mark, chapter 13:24-25.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that in those days (Ἀλλὰ ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις), after the sufferings (μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The assumption was that the moon had its own source of light, not merely a reflection of the sun.  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πίπτοντες).  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that immediately after the sufferings mentioned earlier in those days (Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  This is fully in line with the great Israelite prophetic tradition of the Day of Yahweh, like Ezekiel, chapter 32:7, Joel, chapter 2:10, Amos, chapter 8:9, and Zephaniah, chapter 1:15.  Luke did not have the details that were in Mark and Matthew.  What kind of cosmic upheaval do you expect at the end times?

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?

Bethsaida (Lk 9:10-9:10)

“On their return,

The apostles

Told Jesus

All that they had done.

He took them

With him,

As he withdrew privately

To a city

Called Bethsaida.”

 

Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν. Καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς ὑπεχώρησεν κατ’ ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά.

 

Luke said that on the return of the apostles (Καὶ ὑποστρέψαντες οἱ ἀπόστολοι), they told Jesus all that they had done (διηγήσαντο αὐτῷ ὅσα ἐποίησαν).  He then took them with him (Καὶ παραλαβὼν αὐτοὺς) as he withdrew privately to a city (ὑπεχώρησεν κατ’ ἰδίαν εἰς πόλιν) called Bethsaida (καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά).  This opening to the multiplication of the loaves story can be found in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:13, Mark, chapter 6:30-33, John, chapter 6:1-2, and here.  Luke was the only one to mention the town of Bethsaida, while the others talked about Jesus in a boat.  This gathering of the apostles around Jesus after their mission can only be found in Mark and in Luke.  Mark said that they told Jesus everything that they had done and taught.  Thus, Jesus had a debriefing session with his apostles where he found out what had happened to them on their missionary adventures.  Then Mark said that Jesus wanted to get away to a deserted place in a boat, but somehow the crowds followed him along the bank of the sea, so that Jesus and his apostles could not get away by themselves.  Mark wanted his disciples and apostles to rest for a while, to take it easy.  Many people were coming and going, so that they did not have any leisure time to eat.  Thus, they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.  Jesus was concerned about the apostles’ mental state.  He wanted them to have some down time.  Matthew had pretty much the same story about Jesus and the boat with a slightly different twist.  Jesus left in a boat to be in a deserted or secluded place alone.  However, the crowds heard about it, so that they followed him on foot from the various towns.  Jesus could not get away by himself.  Do you ever want to get away by yourself?

The demoniac was healed (Lk 8:36-8:36)

“Those who had seen it

Told them

How the one

Who had been possessed

By demons

Had been healed.”

 

ἀπήγγειλαν δὲ αὐτοῖς οἱ ἰδόντες πῶς ἐσώθη ὁ δαιμονισθεί

 

Luke said that those who had seen (οἱ ἰδόντες) what happened told them (ἀπήγγειλαν δὲ αὐτοῖς) how the one who had been possessed by demons (ὁ δαιμονισθεί) had been healed (πῶς ἐσώθη).  There was something similar in Mark, chapter 5:16, while there is nothing like this in MatthewMark said that those who had seen what had happened to this demoniac told everyone.  They reported, described, or related it to other people how the pigs ran into the sea.  There was nothing secret about this transfer of evil spirits from a human to a herd of pigs.  What do you think about pigs?

The swine go into the lake (Lk 8:33-8:33)

“Then the demons

Came out

Of the man.

They entered

The pigs.

The swine herd

Rushed down

The steep bank

Into the lake.

They were drowned.”

 

ἐξελθόντα δὲ τὰ δαιμόνια ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, καὶ ὥρμησεν ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν λίμνην καὶ ἀπεπνίγη.

 

Luke said that the demons came out of that man (ἐξελθόντα δὲ τὰ δαιμόνια ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου).  They entered the pigs (εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους).  The whole swine herd rushed down the steep bank (καὶ ὥρμησεν ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ) into the lake (εἰς τὴν λίμνην), where they drowned (καὶ ἀπεπνίγη).  All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 8:32, Mark, chapter 5:13, and Luke here, have Jesus cast out the demons into the nearby herd of pigs, with slight nuances in each story.  Mark said that Jesus allowed these evil spirits to have what they wanted.  However, Jesus showed his power.  The unclean spirit demons left the demoniac and entered the herd of pigs.  This herd then rushed down a steep bank into the sea.  Mark was the only synoptic to mention the number of pigs, 2,000, who were drowned or died in the sea.  Matthew said that Jesus then accommodated these evil spirits.  He told them to leave the 2 humans and go into the swine or pigs, which the demons did.  They entered the herd of pigs, but this herd then rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they died in the water.  There is one problem, pigs can swim, so some might have survived.  Perhaps the unfamiliarity of these Jewish authors with pigs may have led to this harsh ending.  Anyway, the pig herd, without a particular size or 2,000 of them as mentioned by Mark, with the unclean spirits, ran into the sea off a steep bank and perished.  Have you ever seen anyone or any animal drown?

The storm on the lake (Lk 8:23-8:23)

“While they were sailing,

Jesus fell asleep.

A windstorm

Swept down

On the lake.

The boat

Was filling

With water.

So that

They were in danger.”

 

πλεόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἀφύπνωσεν. καὶ κατέβη λαῖλαψ ἀνέμου εἰς τὴν λίμνην, καὶ συνεπληροῦντο καὶ ἐκινδύνευον.

 

Luke said that while they were sailing (πλεόντων δὲ αὐτῶν), Jesus fell asleep (ἀφύπνωσεν).  Then a windstorm swept down on the lake (καὶ κατέβη λαῖλαψ ἀνέμου εἰς τὴν λίμνην).  The boat was filling with water (καὶ συνεπληροῦντο), so that they were in danger (καὶ ἐκινδύνευον).  This stormy boat ride episode can be found in Matthew, chapter 8:24, and Mark, chapter 4:37, somewhat the same as here.  Matthew said that a great severe storm arouse, almost like an earthquake, while they were at sea.  Their boat was being swamped with surging waves.  However, Jesus was asleep, while this storm was hitting their boat.  Mark said that a great severe windstorm came upon them, but there was no mention of an earthquake, as in Matthew.  The waves of the sea were beating into the boat.  Thus, the water was already filling up the boat, so that they were in real danger.  Jesus was asleep as this great windstorm arouse on the Sea of Galilee.  Have you ever been on a stormy boat ride?

The other side of the sea (Lk 8:22-8:22)

“One day,

Jesus

Got into a boat

With his disciples.

He said to them.

‘Let us go across

To the other side

Of the lake.’

Thus,

They set out.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν καὶ αὐτὸς ἐνέβη εἰς πλοῖον καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς Διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς λίμνης· καὶ ἀνήχθησαν.

 

Luke said that one day (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν μιᾷ τῶν ἡμερῶν), Jesus got into a boat (καὶ αὐτὸς ἐνέβη εἰς πλοῖον) with his disciples (καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ).  He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) that he wanted to go across to the other side of the lake (Διέλθωμεν εἰς τὸ πέραν τῆς λίμνης).  Thus, they set out (καὶ ἀνήχθησαν).  Something similar to this short episode of Jesus telling his disciples to travel across the sea can also be found in Mark, chapter 4:35-36.  Mark said that at the end of the day, when evening came, Jesus told his disciples that he wanted them to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum.  However, Mark added that Jesus dismissed the crowds.  Then he and his disciples got into a couple of boats.  Thus, there was a small group of boats crossing the Sea of Galilee.  Matthew, chapter 8:23, had the simple statement that Jesus got into the boat with his disciples.  Have you ever gone across a sea or a lake on a boat?