Zacchaeus ran ahead.
He climbed up
A sycamore tree
To see Jesus,
To pass that way.”
καὶ προδραμὼν εἰς τὸ ἔμπροσθεν ἀνέβη ἐπὶ συκομορέαν, ἵνα ἴδῃ αὐτόν, ὅτι ἐκείνης ἤμελλεν διέρχεσθαι.
Luke uniquely indicated that Zacchaeus ran ahead (καὶ προδραμὼν εἰς τὸ ἔμπροσθεν) of everyone. He then climbed up a sycamore tree (ἀνέβη ἐπὶ συκομορέαν) in order to see Jesus (ἵνα ἴδῃ αὐτόν), because Jesus was about to pass that way (ὅτι ἐκείνης ἤμελλεν διέρχεσθαι). Luke was the only Greek biblical writer to use the word συκομορέαν, that means a fig-mulberry tree, a sycamore fig, or a sycamore tree. This small rich tax collector ran ahead of everybody and climbed up a tree so that he could see Jesus when he passed by, an ingenious way to get a look at the celebrity who was in town. Luke was the only synoptic with this story of Zacchaeus. Would you climb a tree to see a celebrity?
“The kingdom of God
A mustard seed
That someone took.
He sowed it
In his garden.
It became a tree.
The birds of the air
In its branches.”
ὁμοία ἐστὶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως, ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος ἔβαλεν εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ ηὔξησεν καὶ ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον, καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ κατεσκήνωσεν ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that the kingdom of God was like a mustard seed (ὁμοία ἐστὶν κόκκῳ σινάπεως) that someone took (ὃν λαβὼν ἄνθρωπος) and sowed in his garden (ἔβαλεν εἰς κῆπον ἑαυτοῦ). Then it grew (καὶ ηὔξησεν) and became a tree (καὶ ἐγένετο εἰς δένδρον). The birds of the air (καὶ τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) made nests (κατεσκήνωσεν) in its branches (ἐν τοῖς κλάδοις αὐτοῦ). Luke did not explicitly say that this mustard seed was the smallest seed, but implied it symbolically. However, this seed could grow to become a tree or shrub where birds could nest. There was no explanation of this parable, except the clear indication that the kingdom of God might start out small but would grow to hold many people. This parable of the mustard seed can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 13:31-32, and Mark, chapter 4:31-32, plus here. Jesus, via Mark, said that the kingdom of God was like a mustard seed or a grain of mustard. When planted in the ground, it is the smallest of all seeds on earth. But when it has grown after being planted, it becomes greater than all the garden plants or shrubs. It then produced great branches. Thus, the birds of the air would be able to come and perch or build nests in the shade of its branches. What started out small can become quite large. Jesus, via Matthew, explicitly presented them with another short parable. He said that the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of God, was like a mustard seed. A man planted this seed in his field. When planted, it was the smallest of all seeds. But when it was grown, it was the greatest of garden plants or shrubs. It then became a tree. Thus, the birds of the air could come and perch or build nests in its branches. What started out small can become quite large. Do you know something small that became large?
“If then you are not able
To do as small a thing
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?
“When they had finished
Eating the grass
Of the land,
‘O Yahweh God!
I beg you!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!’
‘It shall not be.’
Amos was able to persuade Yahweh not to send any more locusts, after they had finished eating the grass of the land. The term grass probably indicates all vegetation. Amos asked God to forgive them, since Jacob was so small that it could not stand. His begging worked, since Yahweh said okay.
“Alongside the portion
As the holy district,
You shall assign
As a possession
For the city
Five thousand cubits wide,
Twenty-five thousand cubits long.
It shall belong
To the whole house
Besides the holy district in the city of Jerusalem, there was to be another portion of the land set aside for all the people of Israel. In fact, it is rather small, only half the size of the land set apart for the Levites. This is a long strip of land 25,000 cubits long, but only 5,000 cubits wide. It would seem that there were more Levites than regular people in Jerusalem.
“Thus says Yahweh God!
‘At the end of forty years,
I will gather
From the people
They were scattered.
I will restore
The fortunes of Egypt.
I will bring them back
To the land of Pathros,
The land of their origin.
There they shall be
A lowly kingdom.
It shall be the lowliest
Of the kingdoms.
It shall never again
Above the nations.
I will make them
That they will never again
Rule over the nations.
The Egyptians shall never again
Be the reliance
Of the house of Israel.
They will recall
When they turned
Then they will know
That I am Yahweh God!’”
Yahweh told Ezekiel that at end of forty years, he would gather the Egyptians from wherever they were scattered. He was going to restore the fortunes of Egypt. He was going to bring them back to Pathros, the southern part of Egypt near Thebes, where they originally came from. However, this would be a low kingdom that would not exalt itself among the various nations. They would be so small that they would never again rule over other countries. Israel would not rely on Egypt again. They would recall their iniquity when they turned to them for aid. They would all know that Yahweh was God.
“Honor comes from speaking.
Dishonor also comes from speaking.
The tongue of mortals may be their downfall.
Do not be called double-tongued.
Do not lay traps with your tongue.
Shame comes to the thief.
Severe condemnation comes to the double-tongued.
In great and small matters,
Cause no harm.”
Both honor and dishonor can come from speaking. Be careful when you speak, because your tongue may be your downfall. Do not be double-tongued, saying one thing here and another there. Do not set verbal traps because shame comes to the thief, but especially severe condemnation comes to the double-tongued. Whether in great or small matters, you should cause no harm to anyone.
“Because as servants of his kingdom,
You did not rule rightly.
You did not keep the law.
You did not walk
According to the purpose of God.
He will come upon you terribly.
He will come upon you swiftly.
Because severe judgment falls
On those in high places.
The lowliest may be pardoned in mercy.
But the mighty will be mightily tested.
The Lord of all
Will not stand in awe of any one.
He will not show deference to greatness.
Because he himself made
Both small and great.
He takes thought for all alike.
But a strict inquiry is in store for the mighty.”
Severe judgment will come upon those who are in high places that did not rule rightly. They did not keep the law (νόμον) or walk according to God’s purposes (κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπορεύθητε). God will come upon them terribly and swiftly. God might pardon the lowly with mercy, but the mighty are tested mightily. The Lord of all will not be awed by anyone. He does not show deference, whether they are small or great. He does a strict inquiry into all, especially the mighty ones.
“These also are sayings of the wise.
Partiality in judging is not good.
He who says to the wicked,
‘You are innocent’
Will be cursed by their people.
They will be abhorred by the nations.
But those who rebuke the wicked
Will have delight.
They will have a good blessing come upon them.
Whoever gives an honest answer,
Gives a kiss on the lips.”
Apparently this is another small collection of wise sayings that was not associated with the preceding collection. This section seems to be aimed at judges and how they judge people since they should not be partial. In particular, they should not let the wicked go free. They will be cursed by their own people. Furthermore, in an international outlook, other nations will also abhor them. However, if they judge correctly against the wicked ones, they will delight in this life with blessings coming to them. An honest answer is like giving a kiss on the lips.
“Whoever plans to do evil
Will be called a mischief-maker.
The devising of folly is sin.
The scoffer is an abomination to all.
If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.”
Mischief-makers are those who plan to do evil. The very planning of folly is a sin. The scoffer or the mocker cynic is an abomination to all people. If you faint during hard times, your strength is obviously small.