Luke indicated that Jesus, the Lord, replied (εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος) that if they had faith (Εἰ ἔχετε πίστιν) the size of a mustard seed (ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), they could say (ἐλέγετε) to this mulberry or sycamore tree (ἂν τῇ συκαμίνῳ ταύτῃ), be rooted up (Ἐκριζώθητι) and planted in the sea (καὶ φυτεύθητι ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ). Luke is the only biblical writer to use the Greek term συκαμίνῳ that means a black mulberry tree or a sycamore tree that had medicinal value. Then this tree would obey them (καὶ ὑπήκουσεν ἂν ὑμῖν). There are expanded faith sayings that can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:28-29, and Matthew, chapter 17:19-21, who are much closer to each other. Matthew indicated that the disciples came to Jesus privately (Τότε προσελθόντες οἱ μαθηταὶ τῷ Ἰησοῦ). They wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirits from that boy (κατ’ ἰδίαν εἶπον Διὰ τί ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό). Jesus reminded them (ὁ δὲ λέγει αὐτοῖς) of their little faith (Διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν), a term used predominately by Matthew. Jesus came back with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν) that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed (ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν ὡς κόκκον σινάπεως), like here in Luke, they could move mountains from here to there (ἐρεῖτε τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Μετάβα ἔνθεν ἐκεῖ, καὶ μεταβήσεται). Nothing would be impossible for them (καὶ οὐδὲν ἀδυνατήσει ὑμῖν). If they had faith with prayer and fasting (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ), they would be able to cast the evil spirits out (τοῦτο δὲ τὸ γένος οὐκ ἐκπορεύεται). Matthew continued to emphasize the lack of faith or the little faith of the disciples of Jesus. Mark said that the disciples wondered why they were not able to cast out the evil spirit from that boy (Ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἠδυνήθημεν ἐκβαλεῖν αὐτό). The disciples were concerned that they must have lacked something that made it impossible for them to get rid of this evil spirit that was in that boy. Mark added the need for prayer. There was no emphasis on faith as in Matthew, where Jesus talked about faith and the mustard seed. Mark emphasized prayer, as he indicated that Jesus said that this kind of evil spirit could only be expelled (Τοῦτο τὸ γένος ἐν οὐδενὶ δύναται ἐξελθεῖν) through prayer (εἰ μὴ ἐν προσευχῇ). Prayer might imply faith, but it is not explicit here in Luke. Which is more important to you, faith or prayer?
Luke uniquely indicated that the apostles asked the Lord (Καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἀπόστολοι τῷ Κυρίῳ) to add or increase their faith (Πρόσθες ἡμῖν πίστιν). Notice that Jesus was called the Lord (Κυρίῳ) here. Although there are other instances of people having a lack of faith or a strong faith, quite often they were around being healed by Jesus. This saying was the only instance of the apostles, not merely the disciples, or other followers of Jesus, where they specifically wished to increase or add to their belief. Do you want to increase your faith?
Luke indicated that Jesus said to Jerusalem that nothing of their house was left for them as it will be forsaken (ἰδοὺ ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν), using the second person singular. With a solemn pronouncement (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν), Jesus said that they would not see him, Jesus (οὐ μὴ ἴδητέ με) until the time came when they said (ἕως ἥξει ὅτε εἴπητε) the Hallel Psalm 118:26, “Blessed is the one who comes (Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος) in the name of the Lord (ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου)!” Both Luke and Matthew, chapter 23:38-39, have this desolation of Jerusalem, almost word for word, so that this may be a Q source. Matthew was more detailed. He indicated that Jesus said that their house of worship would be left desolate at its destruction (ἰδοὺ ἀφίεται ὑμῖν ὁ οἶκος ὑμῶν), because Yahweh God would abandon the Temple of Jerusalem. In a solemn pronouncement (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν), they would not see him again (οὐ μή με ἴδητε ἀπ’ ἄρτι), until they would say the Hallel Psalm 118:26 about blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord (ἕως ἂν εἴπητε Εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου). This was a warning against the powerless Temple of Jerusalem, perhaps indicating that Temple had already been destroyed by the time of this writing. Does the destruction of the church Notre Dame de Paris sound like the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple to you?
Luke uniquely indicated that Jesus responded to these Pharisees (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς). Jesus told them to go tell that fox Herod (Πορευθέντες εἴπατε τῇ ἀλώπεκι ταύτῃ) that he, Jesus, was casting out demons (Ἰδοὺ ἐκβάλλω δαιμόνια) and performing cures (καὶ ἰάσεις ἀποτελῶ). He was doing this today (σήμερον), tomorrow (καὶ αὔριον), and on the 3rd day (καὶ τῇ τρίτῃ) until he finished his work (τελειοῦμαι). Earlier in Luke, there were comments about John the Baptist and Herod. Here, however, there is nothing about John the Baptist at all. This little unique saying in Luke had Jesus refer to Herod as a fox, either indicating that he was shrewd or trying to insult him. There was also an allusion to the 3rd day or the day of the Lord’s resurrection. Jesus had not yet finished his work in Galilee or Perea. Has anyone ever called you a fox?
Luke uniquely said that the Lord, not Jesus, answered this synagogue leader (ἀπεκρίθη δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ Κύριος). He called them hypocrites (καὶ εἶπεν Ὑποκριταί) in the second person plural. He asked each of them (ἕκαστος ὑμῶν) whether they had untied their ox (οὐ λύει τὸν βοῦν αὐτοῦ) or donkey (ἢ τὸν ὄνον) from the stall or manger (ἀπὸ τῆς φάτνης) and led them away (καὶ ἀπαγαγὼν) to give them water (ποτίζει) on the Sabbath (τῷ σαββάτῳ)? Despite the sacredness of the Sabbath, they took care of their farm animals by providing water for them, as Jesus questioned how they handled their animals on the Sabbath. What are you Sabbath practices?
Luke indicated that Jesus said that they should know (τοῦτο δὲ γινώσκετε) that if the owner of a house had known (ὅτι εἰ ᾔδει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης) at what hour (ποίᾳ ὥρᾳ) the thief was coming (ὁ κλέπτης ἔρχεται), he would not have let his house be broken into (οὐκ ἂν ἀφῆκεν διορυχθῆναι τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ). This was very similar to Matthew, chapter 24:42-43, about the thief at night. Matthew said that Jesus warned his disciples to be vigilant. They were to stay awake (γρηγορεῖτε οὖν) because they did not know on what day (ὅτι οὐκ οἴδατε ποίᾳ ἡμέρᾳ) the Lord was coming (ὁ κύριος ὑμῶν ἔρχεται). They had to understand or realize (ἐκεῖνο δὲ γινώσκετε) that if an owner of a house had known at what time of the night a thief was coming (ὅτι εἰ ᾔδει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης ποίᾳ φυλακῇ ὁ κλέπτης ἔρχεται), he would have been alert and stayed awake (ἐγρηγόρησεν ἂν). He would not have let his house be broken into (καὶ οὐκ ἂν εἴασεν διορυχθῆναι τὴν οἰκίαν αὐτοῦ). Would you stay up all night protecting your house?
Luke indicated that Jesus the Lord cursed the Pharisees again. This friendly dinner took a strange twist. Jesus said that woe would come to them, the Pharisees, (οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις) because these Pharisees loved (ὅτι ἀγαπᾶτε) to have the first seats or the seats of honor (τὴν πρωτοκαθεδρίαν) in the synagogues (ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς). They loved to be greeted (καὶ τοὺς ἀσπασμοὺς) in the market places (ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς). There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:39, and Matthew, chapter 23:6-7. Matthew indicated that Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts and the best or front seats in the assembled synagogues. They loved to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Matthew also went on about the use of the term Rabbi. Mark indicated that as Jesus told them to beware of the Scribes, but there was no mention of Pharisees, because these Scribes walked around in long robes. They loved to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. They loved the front seats in the assembly synagogues They loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts They were the elite social butterflies. Do you like privileged public positions?
Next Luke had the Lord Jesus curse the Pharisees the way that Matthew had done. Jesus said woe to them, the Pharisees (ἀλλὰ οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις)! They had paid their tithes (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε) of mint (τὸ ἡδύοσμον), rue (καὶ τὸ πήγανον), and every kind of herb (καὶ πᾶν λάχανον). However, they had neglected (καὶ παρέρχεσθε) justice (τὴν κρίσιν) and the love of God (καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ). They ought to practice these things (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι), without neglecting the other things (κἀκεῖνα μὴ παρεῖναι). This is like Matthew, chapter 23:23, where Jesus cursed the Pharisees and the Scribes. Matthew indicated that Jesus said woe to them because of their insistence on tithing. He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants, instead of the more serious matters of the law. Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice, mercy, and faith. They should have spent more time on these issues without neglecting the other things. This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities, with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law itself. Luke had almost the same critique here, but the tithing herbs are slightly different. He also wanted their concerns to be about justice and God’s love. Otherwise the critique was pretty much the same. Do you neglect justice and mercy in your life?
Luke uniquely had Jesus turn to alms. The Lord Jesus told the Pharisee that they should give alms (δότε ἐλεημοσύνην) with things that are from within them (λὴν τὰ ἐνόντα), so that everything would be clean for them (καὶ ἰδοὺ πάντα καθαρὰ ὑμῖν ἐστιν). Giving alms would help them, since this was already part of the Mosaic and Pharisaic law, but it had to be interior and and not exterior. It is hard to figure out what an interior almsgiving would be. Are you generous in your gift giving to others?
Luke uniquely continued with Jesus, the Lord, saying that they were fools (ἄφρονες). Did not the one who made the outside (οὐχ ὁ ποιήσας τὸ ἔξωθεν) also make the inside (καὶ τὸ ἔσωθεν ἐποίησεν)? This quiet dinner party was now more heated. Jesus called the Pharisees fools, insensitive or inconsiderate. Jesus continued to warn them about the inside and the outside of their body and various vessels. Cleaning the outside was not good enough. Are you worried about outside or inside cleanliness?