Why be anxious? (Lk 12:26-12:26)

“If then you are not able

To do as small a thing

As that,

Why do you worry

About the rest?”

 

εἰ οὖν οὐδὲ ἐλάχιστον δύνασθε, τί περὶ τῶν λοιπῶν μεριμνᾶτε;

 

This appears to be a unique verse in this longer saying that Luke shared with Matthew about worrying.  Jesus said that if you are not able to do as small a thing as that (εἰ οὖν οὐδὲ ἐλάχιστον δύνασθε), why do you worry about the rest of the things (τί περὶ τῶν λοιπῶν μεριμνᾶτε)?  Jesus seemed to indicate that if you cannot add to your lifespan by worrying, why worry about anything else.  What, me worry?  What do you worry about?

Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes (Lk 9:16-9:16)

“Taking

The five loaves

And the two fish,

Jesus looked up

To heaven.

He blessed them.

He broke them.

He gave them

To the disciples

To set before

The crowd.”

 

λαβὼν δὲ τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας, ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς καὶ κατέκλασεν, καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς παραθεῖναι τῷ ὄχλῳ.

 

Luke said that Jesus took (λαβὼν) the 5 loaves (δὲ τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους) and the 2 fish (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας).  He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς).  He broke them (καὶ κατέκλασεν).  He gave them to his disciples (αὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς) to set before the crowd (παραθεῖναι τῷ ὄχλῳ).  This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:18-19, Mark, chapter 6:41, and John, chapter 6:12, plus here.  The blessing of the bread and the fish was exactly the same in all the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John.  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness.  Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when Jesus blessed and broke the bread.  Mark said that Jesus took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish.  He looked up to heaven.  He blessed them.  Then he broke up the loaves of bread into pieces.  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples.  They, in turn, set the broken pieces of bread or served them to the crowd.  Jesus also divided or shared the 2 fish among them all, something that Luke did not mention explicitly.  Matthew indicated that Jesus told his disciples to bring him the food, the 5 loaves of bread and the 2 fish.  Then he ordered or directed the crowd to sit down on the grass.  He took the 5 loaves and the 2 fish.  He looked up to heaven.  He blessed them.  Then he broke the loaves of bread and the fishes into pieces.  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples.  They, in turn, gave them to the crowd.  This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.  Have you ever been to a large communion service?

Catchers of people (Lk 5:10-5:10)

“There were also

James

And John,

The sons of Zebedee,

Who were partners

With Simon.

Then Jesus said

To Simon.

‘Do not be afraid!

From now on

You will be

Catching people.’”

 

ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου, οἳ ἦσαν κοινωνοὶ τῷ Σίμωνι. καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα ὁ Ἰησοῦς Μὴ φοβοῦ· ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶ

 

Suddenly, Luke introduced two other people, the sons of Zebedee, James and John, who are companions or partners of Simon.  There is no mention of Simon’s brother Andrew here, but he played a major role in the other 3 gospels.  In John, chapter 1:35-42, Andrew, Simon’s brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist.  There is a major difference between Luke here and Matthew, chapter 4:18-22, and Mark, chapter 1:17-18, who were very similar.  They did not have the elaborate story about the fishing in the Sea of Galilee that is here.  Mark and Matthew had the brothers Simon and Andrew being fishermen that Jesus saw along the Sea of Galilee, casting or dropping a net into the sea.  Mark did not mention the other name of Simon as Peter, like Matthew did.  However, it was common for people to have both a Hebrew name like Simon and a Greek name like Peter.  John, chapter 1:40-42, had these two brothers from the town of Bethsaida.  Mark and Matthew also introduced John and James, the fisherman sons of Zebedee.  Zebedee might have been fairly successful, since he was explicitly mentioned and seemed to own a boat.  These two brothers, James and John, were in a boat mending their fishing nets with their father, not casting them out to sea.  Luke said that James and John, the sons of Zebedee (ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Ἰάκωβον καὶ Ἰωάνην υἱοὺς Ζεβεδαίου), were partners or companions with Simon (οἳ ἦσαν κοινωνοὶ τῷ Σίμωνι), so that they may have shared a boat or boats.  Then Jesus told Simon (καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν Σίμωνα ὁ Ἰησοῦς) not to be afraid (Μὴ φοβοῦ).  From now on, he would be catching people or men, not fish (ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν ἀνθρώπους ἔσῃ ζωγρῶ).  They were no longer going to fish for marine life, but human life.  They were to be on the hunt for humans, and not fish.

Jesus blessed and broke the bread (Mk 6:41-6:41)

“Taking

The five loaves

And the two fish,

Jesus looked up to heaven.

He blessed

And broke

The loaves.

He gave them

To his disciples

To set

Before the people.

He divided

The two fish

Among them all.”

 

καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς, καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν.

 

This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:19, Luke, chapter 9:16, and John, chapter 6:12, plus here.  The blessing of the bread and the fish is exactly the same in the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John.  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness.  Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he blessed and broke the bread.  Mark said that Jesus took (καὶ λαβὼν) the 5 loaves (τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους) and the 2 fish (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας).  He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν).  Then he broke up the loaves of bread into pieces (καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους).  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς).  They, in turn, set the broken pieces of bread or served them to the crowd (ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς).  Jesus also divided or shared the 2 fish among them all (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν).  This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.

Jesus sees James and John (Mk 1:19-1:19)

“As Jesus went

A little farther,

He saw James,

The son of Zebedee,

And his brother,

John.

They were

In their boat

Mending their nets.”

 

Καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον εἶδεν Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάνην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα,

 

Once again Mark and Matthew, chapter 4:20, are almost word for word.  Mark introduced two new disciples, John and James, the fisherman sons of Zebedee.  Zebedee might have been successful since he was explicitly mentioned and he seemed to own a boat.  Jesus apparently had just left Simon Peter and Andrew a short distance away (Καὶ προβὰς ὀλίγον).  Once again, Jesus saw two other fishermen brothers (εἶδεν Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ Ἰωάνην τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ).  These two brothers, the sons of Zebedee, James and John, were in a boat (καὶ αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ) mending the fishing nets (καταρτίζοντας τὰ δίκτυα), not casting them out to sea.  Luke, chapter 5:10, indicated that these two sons of Zebedee were partners with Simon, so that they may have shared a boat or boats.

The response of Jesus (Mt 4:4-4:4)

“But Jesus answered.

‘It is written.

One does not live

By bread alone,

But by every word

That comes

From the mouth of God.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν Γέγραπται Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ στόματος Θεοῦ.

 

Once again, Matthew and Luke, chapter 4:4 shared a common source, perhaps Q.  Jesus responded (ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς) to the tempter by citing a written phrase (εἶπεν Γέγραπται) from Deuteronomy, chapter 8:3, about the fact that man does not live by bread alone (Οὐκ ἐπ’ ἄρτῳ μόνῳ ζήσεται ὁ ἄνθρωπος,), but rather man lives by all the words that come from the mouth of God (ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ παντὶ ῥήματι ἐκπορευομένῳ διὰ στόματος Θεοῦ.).  Actually, the Book of Deuteronomy was the most quoted book of the Torah in these New Testament writings.  In Deuteronomy, Yahweh had reminded the Israelites that they had been tested for 40 years with hunger.  Then came this saying about not living by bread alone, but by every word that came from the mouth of Yahweh.  The mouth of God was an anthropomorphism for Yahweh’s law.

 

A Community of Believers

No man is an island.  We exist in a society, in a community.  We grow up in a family, in a community of people.  As a Christian, we must live in a Christian community.  The Christian religious experience is always lived within a community.  Individual spirituality leads to a commitment not merely as an individual, but to the larger community of Christian believers.  Even the hermits understood that they shared in the larger Christian community.  Just as there is no religious practice without a religion, there cannot be any Christian belief except within a Christian community, a Christian Church.  An individual and communal faith goes hand in hand, not face to face.  God created us out of love, so faith is within a community.  If faith is not communal it is not complete.  Nevertheless, nearly half of American Christian believers are not affiliated with a church, because we live in a highly individualist country.  There is a certain hypocrisy that allows each of us to define our morality as what we would like to do.  We have lost the sense of personal and social responsibility for the common good as “me” and my individual personal experience becomes more important.  We are social by nature and need the common experience of worship.

Primitive Christian Communities

The early followers of Jesus were his Jewish apostles and disciples.  They formed a close-knit community.  As they ventured out of Jerusalem after the death and resurrection of Jesus, they formed other small groups of Christian communities.  During the first century of Christianity, we often refer to these Christians as the Primitive Christian Communities, not really a church yet, but described in the Acts of the Apostles.  As far as we know, these Jewish followers of Jesus prayed in the Temple and the synagogues.  They shared their stories about Jesus and his followers with other Jewish groups.  Out of this oral community will come the written documents of the New Testament.

 

Daniel discussed the situation with his companions (Dan 2:17-2:18)

“Then Daniel went

To his house.

He informed

His companions,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah.

He told them

To seek mercy

From the God of heaven

Concerning this mystery.

Thus,

Daniel

With his companions

Might not perish

With the rest

Of the wise men

Of Babylon.”

Daniel went home and shared his information with his 3 other companions, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He told them to ask mercy from the God of heaven. Once again it is not Yahweh, but the God of heaven. He wanted help with this great mystery. He hoped and prayed that they and the other wise men of Babylon would be able to spare their lives.

Go to the hard headed house of Israel (Ezek 3:4-3:9)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Son of man!

Go to the house of Israel!

Speak my very words to them!

You are not sent

To a people

Of obscure speech

With a difficult language,

But to the house of Israel.

You are not sent to people

Of obscure speech

With a difficult language,

Whose words

You cannot understand.

If I sent you to them,

They would listen to you.

But the house of Israel

Will not listen to you.

They are not willing

To listen to me.

Because all the house of Israel

Have a hard forehead.

They have a stubborn heart.

I have made your face hard

Against their faces.

I have made your forehead hard

Against their foreheads.

Like the hardest stone,

Harder than flint,

I have made your forehead.

Do not fear them!

Do not be dismayed

At their looks.

They are a rebellious house.’”

Yahweh told Ezekiel, the son of man, to go to the house of Israel. He was to speak Yahweh’s words to them. Yahweh was not sending him to people who had an obscure and difficult language, like the Babylonians, who would not understand what he was saying. However, they might listen to what he had to say. Instead he was being sent to the Israelites, whose language they both shared. These Israelites would not even listen to Yahweh, because they had a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Yahweh was going to make Ezekiel’s face hard against their faces. He was going to make Ezekiel’s forehead hard against their foreheads. His face and forehead would be like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Therefore, Ezekiel should not fear them. He should not be dismayed at their looks, because they were a rebellious house.