The lambs among the wolves (Lk 10:3-10:3)

“Go your way!

See!

I am sending you out

As lambs

Into the midst

Of wolves.”

 

ὑπάγετε· ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς ἄρνας ἐν μέσῳ λύκων.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that they were to go on their way (ὑπάγετε).  He was going to send them out (ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς) as lambs (ὡς ἄρνας) in the middle of wolves (ἐν μέσῳ λύκων).  There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 10:16, perhaps indicating a Q source.  This was part of the remarks that Jesus gave as the admonitions to his 12 apostles.  Matthew indicated that Jesus was going to send them out like sheep in the middle of wolves.  Luke did not mention as Matthew had that Jesus told them that they had to be as wise, intelligent, shrewd, or sensible as serpents.  At the same time, they had to be as innocent, simple, unsophisticated, sincere, or blameless, as doves.  This was a tall order.  Here there was a simple statement without any explanation.  Are you more like a lamb or a wolf?

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Fifth narrative

Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem and taught in the Temple there, debating with the chief priests and religious leaders.  Then he spoke about the coming kingdom of heaven and the future end times.

Jesus finally went to Judea, where he cured large crowds of people.  The Pharisees questioned him about divorce.  Jesus reiterated the importance of marriage, as he spoke about Moses and divorce.  After hearing the response of Jesus about divorce, his disciples wondered why they should marry at all.  Jesus explained about different kind of eunuchs.

The children came forward to Jesus and he blessed them.  He warned against wealth.  To gain eternal life you had to keep the commandments.  They wanted to know which commandments?  The great commandment was not a problem.  However, Jesus asked them to give up their possessions, so that the rich young man walked away.  It was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  Who could be saved?  The response was that all things are possible with God.  Peter wanted to know about the disciples and the eternal life reward, so that Jesus told them that the first shall be last and vice versa.

Then Jesus presented the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  He hired the first laborers, and then late in the day a second group, a third group and finally a fourth group of laborers.  The last group hired got a full day’s pay.  The first group hired were upset when they got the same as the last group hired.  This brought up the problem of generosity versus fairness, as Jesus explained the parable.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to know if her two sons, James and John, could be the greatest, on either side of Jesus.  Jesus pointed out the difficulties and said that only the Father set up the seating arrangements.  This led to ten angry men as they resented the two trying to be first.  Jesus reminded them about servant leadership, as the Son of Man was going to give up his life.

There were great crowds at Jericho where Jesus found two blind men asking for mercy, so he healed them.  Then began the final ministry in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry.  Jesus sent two disciples from Bethpage to get a donkey and a colt because he needed them.  Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus.  Then crowds welcomed the Son of David into Jerusalem as they began to wonder who this man was?

Jesus went into the Temple and chased out the money changers to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he cured people in the Temple, the chief priests were angry, but the little children praised him.

Then Jesus went to Bethany.  The next morning, he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree, but it had no figs, so he cursed the fig tree as it withered because of his faith.

People began to question where did Jesus get his authority?  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them about the value of the baptism of John.  They gave a timid response.  Then he told the parable about the two sons.  The first son said no at first, and then did the work, while the second son said yes and did not do the work.  Which son did the will of his father?  Thus, they did not believe John the Baptist.

Then Jesus told the parable about the wicked tenants.  This absentee land owner of the vineyard sent people to collect his rent.  Instead, the tenants beat and killed the landowner’s slaves.  He sent a second group that was also killed.  Then the tenants killed the landowner’s son.  Finally, the landowner came to take back his vineyard, citing Psalm 118 about the kingdom of God and the falling cornerstone.  The Pharisees understood this parable and tried to arrest Jesus.

Jesus continued to speak in parables.  This parable was about the king who gave a great wedding banquet.  However, the invited guests refused to come to the wedding banquet.  He sent out a second invitation to the wedding banquet, but they refused the second invitation also.  They treated his slaves badly.  The king was angry and sent out new invitations to the wedding feast.  Finally, a man without a wedding garment showed up, but he threw him out of the feast.  The explanation of this parable was that many are called, but few are chosen.

Next the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by flattering him.  They asked him a question about taxes.  Jesus gave a harsh response as he had a dialogue about the Roman coin about whose image was on it.  Give Caesar his due.  The Pharisees and their disciples left.

However, the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  There was a law about marrying the brother of a dead man.  There was a woman who married seven brothers, who was her husband in the resurrection?  Jesus responded that there was no marriage in the resurrection.  The living God of their ancestors would show them the way.  The crowd was astonished.

The Pharisees regrouped and wanted to know what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus responded about the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a question.  Was the Christ the son of David?  Then who was the Lord for David?  After that there were no more questions for Jesus.

Jesus then cursed the Scribes and Pharisees.  He told his disciples to do what they say, but not what they do.  They tied up heavy burdens on the people.  They wore special clothing and sought the places of honor.  They want to be called Rabbis.  No one was your father or master.  Greatness comes with humility.  They tried to lock people out of heaven as they shut it off.  Even when they tried to make converts, they are like blind guides and fools.  They swore by the altar or the gift of the altar.  They swore by heaven, but they had forgotten the law.  They wanted the gnat out your eye but had a camel in their own eye.  They worried about the outside of the cup instead of the inside.  They were like whitewashed tombs.  They proclaimed reverence for the tombs of the prophets, but they were like their sinning ancestors. They were like serpents.  They would kill the prophets.  They spread innocent blood.  Soon the house of Jerusalem would be desolate.

Finally, there were the predictions about the end times.  Jesus left the Temple as he predicted its destruction.  What are the signs of the Parousia?  There would be the beginning of the great suffering so that they should not be lead astray.  There would be rumors of wars in those troubled times.  They would be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.  There would be betrayals and false prophets.  Love would grow cold.  Endurance would be necessary.  The importance of Daniel the prophet was emphasized.  In Judea, they would flee to the housetops.  It would be too late for the people in the fields.  This would be the wrong time to be pregnant or nursing.  There would be great tribulation, but the days would be short.

The end was coming because there would be false Christs and people looking for the Messiah.  The Son of Man would come on the clouds as the darkness in the skies appeared.  There would be a gathering of the chosen ones.  Using the parable of the fig tree, they could tell that the end was near.  This generation would pass away, but Jesus’ words would not pass away.  No one knew the day, since it would be like in the days of Noah.  Only one would be taken and the other left, so be ready.  Be a wise and faithful slave, not a wicked slave.

Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids where half were wise and half foolish.  They all fell asleep.  When the bridegroom came, they all got up.  However, the foolish ones had no oil and wise ones said that there was not enough oil for both of them.  When the foolish left to get oil, they shut the door.  When they came back, the bridegroom said that he did not know them.  Thus, you do not know the day.

Next Jesus told the parable of the talents.  A man entrusted his assets to his slaves.  He gave them money.  One slave added five more talents, another added two more talents, but the third slave dug a hole and buried his money.  The master settled their accounts.  The slave with five talents got five more talents.  The slave with two talents got two more talents.  The slave with one talent was rebuked and punished.  Thus, there will be rewards and punishments at the end times.

In the last judgment, the Son of Man would appear in glory.  There would be sheep and goats, with the sheep on the right hand.  They had taken care of him.  They wondered when they had done this.  The Son of Man replied that they took care of him when they cared for the least of his brothers.  Then he told the goats on his left side to depart from him because they had not taken care of him when they did not care for the lowly people.  Thus, there would be eternal punishment or eternal reward.

Wise simple sheep (Mt 10:16-10:16)

“See!

I am sending you out

As sheep

Into the midst of wolves.

So be wise

As serpents!

Be innocent

As doves.”

 

Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων· γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί.

 

There is something similar in Luke, 10:3, perhaps indicating a Q source.  This is another admonition to his apostles.  Jesus was going to send them out (Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς) like sheep in the middle of wolves (ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων).  Thus, they had to be as wise, intelligent, shrewd, or sensible as serpents (γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις).  They had to be as innocent, simple, unsophisticated, sincere, or blameless, as doves (καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί).  This was a tall order with this dichotomous speech.

The failure of the Egyptian magicians (Wis 17:7-17:10)

“The delusions of their magic art lay humbled.

Their boasted wisdom was scornfully rebuked.

Those who promised to drive off

The fears of a sick soul,

Those who promised to drive off

The disorders of a sick soul,

Were sick themselves

With ridiculous fear.

Even if nothing disturbing frightened them,

Yet scared by the passing of wild animals,

Scared by the hissing of serpents,

They perished in trembling fear.

They refused to look even at the air,

though it nowhere could be avoided.”

Here we have a specific reference to the magicians (μαγικῆς) in Egypt as in Exodus, chapters 7-9. These magicians were humbled. They had promised to drive away the fears and ills of the Egyptians, who remain unnamed here. These magicians were sick with a ridiculous fear themselves. They were afraid of the wild animals and the serpents. They perished in their own fear. Once again we have an embellishing of the original story to add a more dramatic effect.

Divine punishment towards Egypt (Wis 11:15-11:20)

“In return for their foolish thoughts,

In return for their wicked thoughts,

Which led them astray

To worship irrational serpents,

To worship worthless animals,

You sent upon them

A multitude of irrational creatures

To punish them.

Thus they might learn

That one is punished

By the very things

By which one sins.

Your all-powerful hand,

Which created the world out of formless matter,

Did not lack the means to send upon them

A multitude of bears,

Or bold lions,

Or newly created unknown beasts full of rage,

Or such as breathe out fiery breath,

Or belch forth a thick pall of smoke,

Or flash terrible sparks from their eyes.

Not only could the harm they did destroy people,

But the mere sight of them could kill by fright.

Even apart from these,

People could fall at a single breath

When pursued by justice.

They could be scattered by the breath of your power.

But you have arranged all things by measure.

You have arranged all things by number.

You have arranged all things by weight.”

The divine plague punishments could have been much worse for the Egyptians in Exodus, chapters 9-11. In fact, this author implies that God was mild with his punishments because the Egyptians had foolish and wicked thoughts that led them to worship serpents and animals. God very kindly sent them only irrational creatures like frogs, mosquitoes, flies, and gnats to punish them. He could have sent them a multitude of bears or bold lions. He might have sent them unknown beasts full of rage that would breathe out fire and belch out smoke, with flashing terrible sparks in their eyes that could have killed them with fright. God could have made them fall with a single breath or scattered them through the world, but he carefully arranged all this according to his measure, number, and weight.