The tax collector prayer (Lk 18:13-18:13)

“But the tax collector,

Standing far off,

Would not even

Look up to heaven.

But he was beating

His breast.

Saying.

‘God!

Be merciful to me

A sinner!’”

 

ὁ δὲ τελώνης μακρόθεν ἑστὼς οὐκ ἤθελεν οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπᾶραι εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν, ἀλλ’ ἔτυπτεν τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ λέγων Ὁ Θεός, ἱλάσθητί μοι τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ

 

Luke has Jesus continue with this parable about a Pharisee and this tax collector that is only found in this gospel.  Luke indicated that Jesus then turned to the tax collector (ὁ δὲ τελώνης), who was standing far off or a distance away (μακρόθεν ἑστὼς).  He would not even look up or lift his eyes to heaven (οὐκ ἤθελεν οὐδὲ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἐπᾶραι εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν).  He was beating his breast (ἀλλ’ ἔτυπτεν τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ), a common form of penance.  He prayed to God (λέγων Ὁ Θεός) that God would be merciful to him (ἱλάσθητί μοι) a sinner (τῷ ἁμαρτωλῷ).  Instead of thanking God for being good, this tax collector admitted his guilt, not looking up, but striking his breast, asking God to be merciful to him because he was a sinner.  We have two different regular activities, and two different attitudes.  The Pharisee was a better actor in doing the right thing, but had a bad attitude.  The tax collector was not doing the right thing, but had a better attitude.  Are you a good doer or do you have a good attitude?

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The Pharisee prayer (Lk 18:11-18:11)

“The Pharisee,

Standing by himself,

Was praying thus.

‘God!

I thank you

That I am not

Like other people.

I am not

A thief,

A wicked person,

An adulterer,

Or even

Like this tax collector.’”

 

ὁ Φαρισαῖος σταθεὶς ταῦτα πρὸς ἑαυτὸν προσηύχετο Ὁ Θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἅρπαγες, ἄδικοι, μοιχοί, ἢ καὶ ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης·

 

Luke has Jesus tell a parable about this Pharisee and a tax collector that is only found in this gospel.  Luke indicated that Jesus said this Pharisee stood by himself (ὁ Φαρισαῖος σταθεὶς ταῦτα πρὸς ἑαυτὸν).  He was praying (προσηύχετο) to God.  He said thank you to God (Ὁ Θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι) that he was not like other people (ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  He was not a thief, a robber, or a swindler (ἅρπαγες), unjust, unrighteous, or wicked (ἄδικοι), or an adulterer (μοιχοί), or even like this tax collector (ἢ καὶ ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης).  This Pharisee considered himself a just, righteous person, not like other sinners who were evil.  Certainly, he was happy not to be a terrible Roman tax collector, like that other person in the Temple.  Thus, he uttered the prayer of an upstanding righteous Jewish person.  Do you thank God that you are better than other people?

 

The priest went by (Lk 10:31-10:31)

“Now by chance,

A priest

Was going down

That road.

When he saw him,

He passed by

On the other side.”

 

κατὰ συγκυρίαν δὲ ἱερεύς τις κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν.

 

Luke uniquely continued this story or parable about who is my neighbor.  Jesus said that by chance (κατὰ συγκυρίαν), a certain Jewish priest (δὲ ἱερεύς τις) was going down (κατέβαινεν) this same road (ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ).  He saw the badly wounded man (καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν), but he passed by on the other side of the road (ἀντιπαρῆλθεν).  There is a lot of speculation on why this priest did not help this man.  Was it because of ritual purity?  Was he in a hurry, so that he did not have time to stop?  Did he simply not care?  Was it too much of a bother?  Certainly, a Jewish priest had standing in the Jewish community.  Other than the high priest, he represented the most important level of Jewish society.  What is certain is that this high-ranking religious leader did not engage in any way with the afflicted man on the other side of the road.  He clearly saw him, as he specifically crossed over to the other side, so as not to be bothered by him.  The ritual purity argument has been raised since a priest could not touch a corpse.  However, there was no mention of a dead body.  Do you always have an excuse on why you do not help other wounded people?

The kingdom of God is coming soon (Lk 9:27-9:27)

“But truly!

I tell you!

There are some

Standing here

Who will not

Taste death

Before they see

The kingdom of God.”

 

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ἀληθῶς, εἰσίν τινες τῶν αὐτοῦ ἑστηκότων οἳ οὐ μὴ γεύσωνται θανάτου ἕως ἂν ἴδωσιν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said with a solemn pronouncement (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν) that there are some men standing here (ἀληθῶς, εἰσίν τινες τῶν αὐτοῦ ἑστηκότων) who will not taste death (οἳ οὐ μὴ γεύσωνται θανάτου) before they would see the kingdom of God (ἕως ἂν ἴδωσιν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Jesus said that the judgment end times was coming soon.  Something similar can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 16:28, Mark, chapter 9:1, and here, almost word for word.  Mark reported that Jesus said to them with a solemn pronouncement that some of those standing before him would not experience or taste death before they would see the kingdom of God.  Matthew also indicated that Jesus said in a solemn pronouncement, that some of those standing before him would not experience death before they would see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.  Notice the difference between Mark/Luke with the “kingdom of God” and Matthew with the “Son of Man coming with his kingdom”.  The end times or judgment was imminent, not some far away time.  Do you believe that the judgment end is close?

The fisherman washing their nets (Lk 5:2-5:2)

“Jesus saw two boats

Standing there

At the shore

Of the lake.

The fishermen

Had left them.

They were washing

Their fishing nets.”

 

καὶ εἶδεν πλοῖα δύο ἑστῶτα παρὰ τὴν λίμνην· οἱ δὲ ἁλεεῖς ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ἀποβάντες ἔπλυνον τὰ δίκτυα.

 

Luke uniquely said that Jesus saw two boats (καὶ εἶδεν πλοῖα δύο) standing at the shore of Lake Gennesaret, Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee (παρὰ τὴν λίμνην).  The fishermen had gotten out and left their boats (οἱ δὲ ἁλεεῖς ἀπ’ αὐτῶν ἀποβάντες).  They were washing their fishing nets (ἔπλυνον τὰ δίκτυα).  Although there are many stories about Jesus around the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum, it is hard to find an equivalent to this story in Luke.  Basically, Jesus saw some fishermen washing their nets beside their two empty boats.

Gennesaret (Lk 5:1-5:1)

“Once while Jesus

Was standing beside

The lake of Gennesaret,

The crowd

Was pressing in

On him

To hear

The word of God.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ τὸν ὄχλον ἐπικεῖσθαι αὐτῷ καὶ ἀκούειν τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἑστὼς παρὰ τὴν λίμνην Γεννησαρέτ,

 

This verse of Luke is unique but not inconsistent with the other gospel stories.  Luke said that Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret (καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἑστὼς παρὰ τὴν λίμνην Γεννησαρέτ).  Gennesaret was another name for the Sea of Galilee or Lake Tiberias.  Then the crowd was pressing in on him (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ τὸν ὄχλον ἐπικεῖσθαι αὐτῷ) to hear the word of God (καὶ ἀκούειν τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Jesus was standing there as a crowd gathered around him.  They wanted to hear the word of God, as if Jesus were somehow qualified to present this word of God.

An angel appeared (Lk 1:11-1:11)

“Then there appeared

To Zechariah

An angel of the Lord.

He was standing

On the right side

Of the altar

Of incense.”

 

ὤφθη δὲ αὐτῷ ἄγγελος Κυρίου ἑστὼς ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τοῦ θυμιάματος.

 

Next, Luke introduced an angel, just as in Matthew, chapter 1:20, when an angel appeared to Joseph to tell him about the birth of Jesus.  Angels played a special role in Jewish society as messengers of the Lord.  These angels were spiritual beings who worshipped God in heaven.  Thus, the Temple had many engravings with angels on them, especially cherubim angels.  Luke said that an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah (ὤφθη δὲ αὐτῷ ἄγγελος Κυρίου).  This angel stood at the right side of the altar of incense (ἑστὼς ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου τοῦ θυμιάματος) in the sanctuary.  Those outside praying knew nothing about this appearance of an angel inside the sanctuary.