What shall we do? (Lk 3:10-3:10)

“The crowds

Asked him.

‘What then should we do?’”

 

Καὶ ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν οἱ ὄχλοι λέγοντες Τί οὖν ποιήσωμεν;

 

Now there are a series of unique sayings of Luke about John and his preaching that are not found elsewhere in the biblical writings.  Apparently, there were a number of questions that people were asking John.  Luke said that the crowds asked him (Καὶ ἐπηρώτων αὐτὸν οἱ ὄχλοι λέγοντες) what should they do (Τί οὖν ποιήσωμεν)?  John was considered to be a moral teacher.  Thus, the crowds of people who came to repent with baptism wanted to know what were they to do now that they were baptized.  What did repentance look like?

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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.

Fourth narrative

The fourth narrative section revealed the increasing opposition to Jesus.  Thus, his disciples had to prepare for his absence.  These instructions emphasized responsibility and humility.  Simon was renamed Peter, the rock upon which he was going to build his church, especially the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.

While Jesus was preaching in the various towns, John the Baptist was put in prison.  The disciples of John questioned Jesus and Jesus responded.  Jesus then asked questions about John.  Was John more than a prophet?  Then Matthew had a series of Old Testament scriptural quotations about John.  How great was John the Baptist?  Was John Elijah?

Jesus warned that this was a childish generation that was indifferent as they kept on eating and drinking, as if nothing important was happening.  Jesus was against the various Galilean cities and towns, especially Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.  Jesus explained that there were hidden things from the wise ones, especially the relationship of the Father with the Son, but that the disciples had an easy yoke to bear.

Next came the question of eating on the Sabbath.  The Pharisees reacted against Jesus, but he used the example of David and the priests in the Temple to respond to them.  God was the Lord of the Sabbath.  Thus, when Jesus went into the synagogue, they asked him if he would heal anyone on the Sabbath?  Jesus compared sheep to human beings and then healed the man’s hand.  Thus, the Pharisees conspired against Jesus, while he took a low profile.

Jesus said that the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah was at hand in the servant of Yahweh.  Jesus cured the blind and mute man as the crowds were amazed.  However, the Pharisees compared Jesus to Beelzebul, the devil.  Jesus responded that a divided kingdom would not stand.  The Spirit of God was with Jesus.  The bandits tied up people before stealing from them.  You were either for or against Jesus.  They should be aware of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then issued a series of sayings about a tree and its fruit.  He compared the Pharisees to a brood of vipers.  There could be good and bad treasures.  Words would either save or condemn them.

Jesus told them about the sign for this evil generation that was always seeking signs.  He was only going to give them the sign of Jonah.  Notice how the men of Nineveh reacted.  The Queen of Sheba brought gifts to Solomon.  The unclean spirit would return with other evil spirits.  The relatives of Jesus, his mother and brothers showed up, but Jesus said that he had a new family.

Then Jesus spoke in parables siting in a boat by the sea.  There was the parable of the sower with his lost seeds, where only a few of the seeds fell on good soil.  His disciples wanted to know why he was speaking in parables, so that Jesus explained why he used parables.  Once again, he referred to a prophecy of Isaiah.  He explained about the seeds on the rocky ground and the seeds among the thorns.  Finally, he explained the meaning of the seeds on good ground or path since they were the blessed ones.

Then there was the parable about the weeds among the wheat.  The slaves let the weeds grow and then separated them at harvest time.  There were other parables about the mustard seed and the yeast.  Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, but he explained these parables to his disciples, especially the sower, the field, and the seeds.  He explained the enemy and the burning of the weeds.  The punishment for the weeds came at the harvest end times.  Thus, the reward for the righteous will be at the end times.

The kingdom of heaven was like a treasure, like pearls, and like a fishing net.  Jesus explained the parables because the disciples did not understand them.  They were like new and old treasures.

Jesus was an astonishment in his own home town.  They all knew the family of Jesus.  Thus, he was a prophet without honor in his own country.

Herod thought that Jesus was a resurrected John the Baptist, but he was afraid of John the Baptist.  At his birthday party, Herod granted the wish to have the head of John the Baptist on a platter.  Meanwhile, John the Baptist’s disciples buried him.

Jesus was worried as he was healing the sick people.  The disciples complained about the crowds, so that Jesus told them to give them something to eat.  However, they only had five loaves and two fish.  Then Jesus blessed the five loaves of bread and distributed them to the crowd.  There were even leftovers from this crowd of five thousand people.

The disciples left in a boat, so that Jesus prayed alone.  The boat was in the middle of the sea when Jesus walked on water to come to them.   Peter talked to Jesus and then attempted to walk on the water.  Jesus then saved Peter who recognized Jesus as the Son of God.  Then there were the healings at Gennesaret, where Jesus cured the sick.

The Pharisees from Jerusalem came to Jesus to ask him why his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  Jesus responded by telling them to honor their parents since there was hypocrisy in their traditions.  He cited Isaiah about vain worship.  He told them to hear and understand.  They should watch what came out of their mouth rather than what went into their mouth as defilement.  The Pharisees were offended, but Jesus called them blind guides.  Peter wanted to understand more so that Jesus explained the mouth should speak from the heart.

Jesus went to the coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon where he met a Canaanite woman.  He said that he was only going to the lost sheep of Israel, but this Canaanite woman persistently asked for help.  Jesus refused again saying that he could not feed the dogs.  However, she responded that dogs eat crumbs from the table.  Jesus said that she had great faith and healed her.

As Jesus healed the crowds of people in the mountain near the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion for them.  Where will they get food?  His disciples said that they had seven loaves.  Jesus then gave thanks over them and distributed the bread to four thousand men as there was a second multiplication of bread loaves.

Jesus went to Magadan.  There the Pharisees asked for a sign from heaven.  Once again, Jesus said that there are weather signs, but he would only give this evil generation the sign of Jonah.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, but Jesus warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees.  He reprimanded his disciples for their lack of faith as he reminded them about the multiplication of the loaves of bread.  They should be worried about the Pharisees not food.

What was the role of Peter?  Jesus asked about the Son of Man as the disciples responded.  Then Jesus asked them about himself.  Peter gave a very positive response, so that Jesus rewarded him.  The Messianic secret was tied to the future of Jesus in this conversation between Peter and Jesus.  He would have to take up his cross if wanted to save his life because the Son of Man in his kingdom would be coming soon.

Jesus took three of his apostles up a mountain where he was transfigured before them.  Moses and Elijah appeared with him.  Peter wanted to set up three tents for them.  A voice from the cloud came as the three apostles adored him.  Jesus asked them to be silent about this.  What was the role of Elijah and John the Baptist?

An epileptic man knelt before Jesus that his disciples were unable to heal.  Jesus then healed him, so that his disciples wondered why they were unable to heal this epileptic?  Jesus spoke about the future of the Son of Man.  Should they pay the Temple tax?  Jesus responded that the son of the king did not pay taxes, but he told Peter to pay them anyway.

Finally, we have the ecclesiastical discourse about who is the greatest.  A child is the greatest because when you welcome a little child, you welcome Jesus.  They were not to cause children to sin.  They were not to tempt people.  It would be better to be maimed and blind than suffer eternal fire.  They were not to despise the little ones.  Jesus explained the parable of the lost sheep and fraternal correction.  What were you to do with a sinning brother.  Let him become a gentile, if he does not listen.  Common prayer was important so that they should gather in his name.  How often should they forgive?  The response was the seventy times seven.

Then there was the parable of the unforgiving servant slave.  The master settled accounts with servant slaves.  One owed ten thousand talents, so that the king forgave him his debt.  However, this servant slave would not forgive the debt of his fellow slaves, who were angry.  Thus, this unforgiving slave was tortured.  This parable explanation was simple, forgive your brothers.

Lock people out of heaven (Mt 23:13-23:13)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You lock people out

Of the kingdom of heaven!

You do not go in yourselves.

But when other people

Are going in,

You stop them!”

 

Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι κλείετε τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων· ὑμεῖς γὰρ οὐκ εἰσέρχεσθε, οὐδὲ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἀφίετε εἰσελθεῖν.

 

This “Woe to you (Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν)!” was a famous Israelite prophetic saying or curse that Matthew had used earlier in chapter 11:21.  Here, there are a series of these curses against the Scribes and the Pharisees.  Were these some scribes that did the work for the Pharisees or a separate Scribe group, since this phraseology continued throughout this series of curses.  In Luke, chapter 11:42-44, Jesus cursed just the Pharisees, without any mention of the Scribes.  However, the content here was unique to Matthew.  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees (γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι), who he also called hypocrites (ὑποκριταί).  Jesus said that they locked people out of the kingdom of heaven (ὅτι κλείετε τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  Although they could not get into or enter heaven themselves (ὑμεῖς γὰρ οὐκ εἰσέρχεσθε), they were stopping or not allowing others to enter (οὐδὲ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἀφίετε εἰσελθεῖν) the kingdom of heaven.  Not only were they not going to heaven, they were stopping others from going to heaven, a serious charge.

Polytheism

Polytheism is opposed to monotheism, since there is not one God, but many Gods.  In other words, there is not one transcendent ultimate God, but a series of many Gods.  Thus, many ancient religions, like the Greeks and Romans, had a variety of Gods for all occasions.  The Israelites were continually fighting against the variety of Baal Gods in Canaan.  Many ancient native religions also had a variety of Gods to answer their many questions.

The locust plague (Joel 1:4-1:4)

“What the cutting locust left,

The swarming locust

Has eaten.

What the swarming locust left,

The hopping locust

Has eaten.

What the hopping locust left,

The destroying locust

Has eaten.”

The big event that Joel was talking about was a locust plague. Apparently, there were a series of locust attacks, a fairly common event in the ancient world. The mild-mannered grasshoppers would suddenly join in groups during times of drought and then attack the growing grain fields in droves. There must have been three separate attacks. Joel called them cutting locusts, swarming locusts, and hopping locusts. One came right after the other to destroy the field crops.

Daniel’s dream (Dan 7:1-7:1)

“In the first year

Of King Belshazzar,

King of Babylon,

Daniel

Had a dream.

He had visions

In his head

As he lay in his bed.

Then he wrote down

The dream.”

The second half of this book has a series of visions by Daniel. This is one of Daniel’s own dreams, even though there have many other dreams mentioned already. This dream seemed parallel to the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar in chapter 2. This took place during the first year of King Belshazzar. That would put this dream around 554 BCE, the first year that this king was the viceroy with his father, King Nabonidus (556-539 BCE). Strangely enough, there is hardly any mention of King Nabonidus, the father of King Belshazzar, in this Book of Daniel. This time, Daniel had this vision at night as was laying in his bed. The difference, of course, is that he wrote the dream down.