Children and the kingdom of God (Lk 18:16-18:16)

“But Jesus

Called the disciples.

He said.

‘Let the little children

Come to me!

Do not stop them!

It is to such

As these

That the kingdom of God

Belongs.’”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσεκαλέσατο αὐτὰ λέγων Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά· τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ

 

Luke indicated that Jesus called his disciples (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς προσεκαλέσατο αὐτὰ).  He told them to let the little children come to him (λέγων Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με).  They were not to stop them (καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά), since the kingdom of God belonged to them (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This story about Jesus and the little children can be found in Mark, chapter 10:14-16, and Matthew, chapter 19:14, but slightly different.  Mark said that Jesus saw what was going on (ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  He was indignant or angry with his disciples (ἠγανάκτησεν).  Once again, there was a little dispute between Jesus and his disciples.  He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) to let the little children come to him (Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία ἔρχεσθαι πρός με).  They were not to stop or hinder them (μὴ κωλύετε αὐτά).  They belonged to the kingdom of heaven (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  Matthew indicated that Jesus said (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν) to his disciples that the little children should not be forbidden to come to him (Ἄφετε τὰ παιδία καὶ μὴ κωλύετε αὐτὰ ἐλθεῖν πρός με).  They belonged to the kingdom of heaven (τῶν γὰρ τοιούτων ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν).  Once again, there was a difference between Mark with the “kingdom of God” and Matthew with the “kingdom of heaven.”  Then Matthew indicated that Jesus laid his hands on them (καὶ ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῖς) before he traveled from there on his way (ἐπορεύθη ἐκεῖθεν).  This was not in the Mark or Luke.  Thus, Jesus favored the little children.  There was no mention of infants in any of these gospel stories, except for Luke at the beginning.  Do you think that priests and ministers should bless little children?

 

Eternal life (Lk 10:25-10:25)

“Just then,

A certain lawyer

Stood up

To test Jesus.

He said.

‘Teacher!

What must I do

To inherit eternal life?’”

 

Καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν λέγων Διδάσκαλε, τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω;

 

Luke said that just then, a certain lawyer stood up (Καὶ ἰδοὺ νομικός τις ἀνέστη) to test Jesus (ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν).  He said, calling Jesus a teacher (λέγων Διδάσκαλε), what did he have to do to inherit eternal life (τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω)?  Although there was a question like this in all 3 synoptics, there are nuanced differences.  Matthew, chapter 22:35-36, had a Pharisee lawyer ask the question about the greatest commandment, and not about eternal life.  Mark, chapter 12:28, had a Scribe, not a Pharisee lawyer ask the same question about the greatest commandment.  In Luke, here, there was an unnamed lawyer, probably an expert in the Mosaic law, who wanted to know about how to gain eternal life.  Mark had this unnamed Scribe approach Jesus, because he had heard the disciples discussing, disputing, or arguing with each other.  He saw how Jesus had answered their questions so well.  He was not there to test him, as here in Luke and Matthew, but he did question Jesus.  Matthew had a lawyer, who was a Pharisee, question Jesus to explicitly test him.  This Pharisee lawyer probably was someone skilled in the Mosaic law.  He addressed Jesus in a very respectful tone calling him “Teacher” or rabbi (Διδάσκαλε), like Luke.  He wanted to know which commandment of the law was the greatest, since there were 613 commandments in late Judaism.  Thus, it would seem like a legitimate question with so many commandments or laws.  Luke had the question about eternal life, but the other 2 synoptics questioned Jesus about the most important commandment.  These questions were related, but not the same.  3 different people, with different motives, posed this question.  Do you question people to learn something or to test them?

Conclusion: Passion, Resurrection and Great Commission

 

This gospel concluded with the events of the last week of Jesus, a main preoccupation of all four gospels.  Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph.  He held a last supper and prayed to be spared.  He was betrayed by Judas.  Then he was tried by the Jewish leaders and before The roman governor Pontius Pilate.  Jesus was crucified as king of the Jews and mocked by all.  At his death, there was an earthquake, when the veil of the Temple was cut in two, and the saints rose from their tombs.  Mary Magdalene and the other women discovered the empty tomb.  Jesus told them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

There was a plot to kill Jesus.  Jesus spoke to his disciples and gave his fourth prediction about the death of the Son of Man.  Then the chief priests and the elders gathered to plot the arrest of Jesus.  However, before that, there was an anointing by the unnamed women in Bethany as she poured oil on Jesus.  Others wanted to know why she was wasting oil.  Jesus said that she had done a good thing by anointing him for burial.  Thus, she would be remembered.  Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Then they made the preparations for the Passover.  Where would the Passover be?  There was a house for the Passover meal, as the disciples prepared for the Passover evening meal.  Jesus announced the betrayal.  Who would betray Jesus?  This betrayer would be cursed, as Judas spoke out.  At the Last Supper Eucharist, Jesus said that this was his body and blood with eschatological implications.

They went to the Mount of Olives.  Jesus predicted that the apostles would scatter.  He was going to go to Galilee.  Peter said that he would never desert Jesus.  Then Jesus warned Peter about his desertion, but Peter was adamant that he would never deny Jesus.

They went to Gethsemane as Jesus took his three favorite apostles.  He prayed to his Father while these apostles slept.  There was a second prayer of Jesus, as he came a second time to the sleeping apostles.  He prayed a third time.  Then Jesus woke them up.

Judas arrived and kissed Jesus, as they then seized Jesus.  Someone cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.  However, Jesus told them to put their swords away as the disciples fled.

Jesus went before Caiaphas the high priest, while Peter followed Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest.  They were looking for false testimony.  Finally, two witnesses came forward.  The high priest spoke and Jesus responded.  He called the words of Jesus blasphemy, as they mocked Jesus.  Peter’s denied Jesus three time and then he remembered Jesus’ words.

The elders and Pharisees planned to kill Jesus.  They would deliver Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor.  Meanwhile, Judas repented, but he hung himself.  He returned the pieces of silver to the Temple, but it was used to purchase a graveyard called the Field of Blood to fulfill a prophecy of Jeremiah.

Jesus went before Pilate as he asked him if he was the king of the Jews?  However, Jesus did not respond.  The governor was going to release one prisoner at the festival time.  However, the people wanted the prisoner Barabbas rather than Jesus.  Pilate got a warning from his wife.  Nevertheless, the crowd wanted to crucify Jesus.  Pilate claimed that he was innocent of his blood but the crowds said that his blood be on us.  Barabbas was then released.  Jesus went to the governor’s head quarters where the Roman soldiers mocked him.

They prepared Jesus for the crucifixion.  They got Simon of Cyrene to help with the cross as they went to Golgotha.  They divided his garments and wrote on the cross Jesus, King of the Jews.  There were two robbers who derided and and taunted Jesus, just like the Jewish religious leaders had mocked Jesus.

Darkness fell over the land as Jesus died.  The cry of Jesus was interpreted as a call to Elijah.  They gave him sour wine to drink.  Would Elijah save Jesus?  When Jesus died, the Temple curtain was torn in two.  Tombs opened and the dead rose and appeared in Jerusalem.  He truly was  the Son of God.

There were women from Galilee, especially the women called Mary.  Joseph of Arimathea got the body of Jesus and put it in his tomb as the women called Mary were vigilant.  Meanwhile, there was a gathering with Pilate, since the Jewish religious leaders wanted to have the tomb secure.  Thus, a custodial guard was set up at the tomb.

The two Marys visited the tomb, where there was another earthquake with an angel at the tomb.  The guards were afraid, but the angel speaks to the women to tell them to let the disciples know what happened.  The women left the tomb and Jesus appeared to them.  Meanwhile, the guards told the chief priests in Jerusalem what had happened.  These religious leaders paid the guards to tell everyone that someone stole the body of Jesus while they were sleeping.  Thus, this stolen body story spread.

After the resurrection, the remaining eleven disciples returned to an unnamed mountain in Galilee.  There the post-resurrection Jesus gave them authority in heaven and on earth with his great commission:  They were to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them with a Trinitarian formula.  They were to follow his commandments because Jesus would be with them until the end of time.

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.

Jesus wakes up his favorite apostles (Mt 26:45-26:46)

“Then Jesus came

To the disciples.

He said to them.

‘Are you still sleeping?

Are you taking your rest?

See!

The hour is at hand.

The Son of Man

Is betrayed

Into the hands

Of sinners.

Get up!

Let us be going!

See!

My betrayer

Is approaching.’”

 

τότε ἔρχεται πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Καθεύδετε λοιπὸν καὶ ἀναπαύεσθε· ἰδοὺ ἤγγικεν ἡ ὥρα καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοται εἰς χεῖρας ἁμαρτωλῶν.

ἐγείρεσθε, ἄγωμεν· ἰδοὺ ἤγγικεν ὁ παραδιδούς με.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:41-42.  In Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 22, there is nothing more about these sleeping disciples of Jesus.  Matthew and Mark both recount that Jesus came to his disciples (τότε ἔρχεται πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς) for a 3rd time.  He spoke to them (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς).  He told them that there would be plenty of time for sleeping and taking rest later (Καθεύδετε λοιπὸν καὶ ἀναπαύεσθε).  He woke them up to tell them that the hour had come (ἰδοὺ ἤγγικεν ἡ ὥρα) when the Son of Man was going to be betrayed or handed over (καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου παραδίδοται) into the hands of sinners (εἰς χεῖρας ἁμαρτωλῶν).  They had to get up and get going (ἐγείρεσθε, ἄγωμεν).  The betrayer was approaching them right away (ἰδοὺ ἤγγικεν ὁ παραδιδούς με).  The time for resting was over.  All hands-on deck!  The betrayer was coming to get him right away.

Peter is adamant that he would never deny Jesus (Mt 26:35-26:35)

“Peter said to him.

‘Even if I must die

With you,

I will not deny you.

Thus,

All the disciples

Said the same thing.”

 

λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πέτρος Κἂν δέῃ με σὺν σοὶ ἀποθανεῖν, οὐ μή σε ἀπαρνήσομαι. ὁμοίως καὶ πάντες οἱ μαθηταὶ εἶπαν.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:31.  Peter said to Jesus (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πέτρος) that even if it was necessary that he had to die with Jesus (Κἂν δέῃ με σὺν σοὶ ἀποθανεῖν), he would never deny or repudiate him (ὐ μή σε ἀπαρνήσομαι).  Then all the other disciples said the same thing (ὁμοίως καὶ πάντες οἱ μαθηταὶ εἶπαν).  Thus, all the 12 leaders exaggerated their own loyalty to Jesus.

 

Why waste oil? (Mt 26:8-26:9)

“But when the disciples

Saw it,

They were angry.

They said.

‘Why this waste?

This ointment

Could have been sold

For a large sum.

The money could have been

Given to the poor.’”

 

ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ ἠγανάκτησαν λέγοντες Εἰς τί ἡ ἀπώλεια αὕτη;

ἐδύνατο γὰρ τοῦτο πραθῆναι πολλοῦ καὶ δοθῆναι πτωχοῖς.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:4-5, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:4-6, where Judas Iscariot complained about wasting money and John made derogatory remarks about Judas.  Matthew said that these unnamed disciples saw what had happened (ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ), so that they were angry, incensed, or indignant (ἠγανάκτησαν).  They complained that this was a waste of this precious oil (λέγοντες Εἰς τί ἡ ἀπώλεια αὕτη).  It could have been sold for a large sum (ἐδύνατο γὰρ τοῦτο πραθῆναι πολλοῦ), without mentioning the amount of 300 denarii (about $450.00 US), as did Mark and John, for this was very expensive oil.  Then that large sum of money obtained from the sale of this ointment could have been given to the poor (καὶ δοθῆναι πτωχοῖς).  Giving to the poor at the time of Passover was a common custom.