Blessed are the poor (Lk 6:20-6:20)

“Then Jesus

Looked up

At his disciples.

He said.

‘Blessed are you

Who are poor!

Yours is

The kingdom of God.”

 

Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

Luke said that Jesus looked up at his disciples (Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ).  He said (ἔλεγεν) that the poor are blessed or happy (Μακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί), using the second person plural.  Their reward would be the kingdom of God (ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ).  This sermon on the plain is somewhat similar to the sermon on the mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7.  Most people speak about the 8 beatitudes of Jesus on the mountain, since they feature the key points of Jesus’ preaching that was founded on the Hebrew Scriptures.  What does “blessed (Μακάριοι)” mean?  This Greek word Μακάριοι appeared over 68 times in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, especially in the Psalms.  God will bless these people, so that they will be the fortunate ones, the happy ones, the wise ones.  There are echoes of Psalm 32, where the happy and blessed ones are those who have had their sins forgiven, since they have no deceit in their hearts.  The blessed people are the poor, the hungry, the mourners, and those being persecuted.  Number one is the poor.  However, right off the bat, there is a difference with Matthew. chapter 5:3, who used the term the “poor in spirit (οἱ πτωχοὶ τῷ πνεύματι).”  What did Matthew mean by this “poor in spirit” or spiritual poverty?  There is a whole Judaic tradition about the oppressed poor and the humble of the land, as in the prophets Isaiah, chapter 61:1 and 66:2, and Zephaniah, chapter 2:3, but that was not spiritual poverty.  Perhaps, this was more like the lack of concern for material things, whether you are actually poor or not.  For Luke, it was black or white, poor or not.  The 2nd major difference was the reward.  Matthew talked about what they would possess, the kingdom of the heavens (ὅτι αὐτῶν ἐστιν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν), while Luke said it was the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ), plain and simple.

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Healing the hand (Lk 6:10-6:10)

“After looking around

At all of them,

He said to the man

With the withered hand.

‘Stretch out your hand!’

He did so.

His hand was restored.”

 

καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντας αὐτοὺς εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἔκτεινον τὴν χεῖρά σου. ὁ δὲ ἐποίησεν, καὶ ἀπεκατεστάθη ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that after looking around at all of them (καὶ περιβλεψάμενος πάντας αὐτοὺς), Jesus said to the man with the withered hand (εἶπεν αὐτῷ) to stretch out his hand (Ἔκτεινον τὴν χεῖρά σου).  He did so (ὁ δὲ ἐποίησεν), and his hand was restored (καὶ ἀπεκατεστάθη ἡ χεὶρ αὐτοῦ).  All 3 synoptic gospels have this healing the same way.  Matthew, chapter 12:13, and Mark, chapter 3:5, have something similar where Jesus cured the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.  Thus, Mark may have been the source of this healing story.  Mark said that Jesus was angry, because he was upset at the hardness of their hearts.  Finally, after all this discussion about the Sabbath, Jesus said to the man with the withered hand to stretch out his hand, which he did.  Then his hand was restored like new.  Jesus healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath without doing any physical activity.  His hand was restored just like his other hand.

 

Only God forgives sins (Lk 5:21-5:21)

“Then the Scribes

And the Pharisees

Began to question.

‘Who is this

That speaks blasphemies?

Who can forgive sins

But God alone?’”

 

καὶ ἤρξαντο διαλογίζεσθαι οἱ γραμματεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι λέγοντες Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος ὃς λαλεῖ βλασφημίας; τίς δύναται ἁμαρτίας ἀφεῖναι εἰ μὴ μόνος ὁ Θεός;

 

Luke said that the Scribes (οἱ γραμματεῖς) and the Pharisees (καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι) began to reason or question Jesus (καὶ ἤρξαντο διαλογίζεσθαι).  Was Jesus not speaking blasphemies (λέγοντες Τίς ἐστιν οὗτος ὃς λαλεῖ βλασφημίας)?  Only God could forgive sins (τίς δύναται ἁμαρτίας ἀφεῖναι εἰ μὴ μόνος ὁ Θεός).  Mark, chapter 2:6-7, and Matthew, chapter 9:3, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this saying about the Pharisees and the Scribes saying that Jesus was committing blasphemy.  Mark and Matthew did not mention the Pharisees, just the Scribes.  Mark said that some of these Scribes were sitting there in this crowded room.  They were reasoning or questioning in their hearts, but not to others.  They wondered why Jesus was talking this way, since it appeared to be blasphemy.  Blasphemers used scurrilous or irreverent language about God.  How was Jesus able to forgive sins, since only God can forgive sins?  This seems like a legitimate question.

Was John the Christ Messiah? (Lk 3:15-3:15)

“The people

Were filled

With expectations.

All were wondering

In their hearts

Concerning John.

Was he perhaps

The Christ,

The Messiah?”

 

Προσδοκῶντος δὲ τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ διαλογιζομένων πάντων ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν περὶ τοῦ Ἰωάνου, μή ποτε αὐτὸς εἴη ὁ Χριστός,

 

This question about John the Baptist being the Messiah can be found in John, chapter 1:25, where the Pharisees asked this question.  Here Luke said that the people were full of expectations (Προσδοκῶντος δὲ τοῦ λαοῦ).  All were questioning or wondering in their hearts concerning John (καὶ διαλογιζομένων πάντων ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν περὶ τοῦ Ἰωάνου).  Was he perhaps the Christ, the Messiah (μή ποτε αὐτὸς εἴη ὁ Χριστός)?  In other words, the question was not explicitly stated, but only thought about.  They were wondering if John the Baptist, the son of Zechariah, was the expected Messiah or Christ.

The future of this child (Lk 1:66-1:66)

“All who heard

These words

And actions

Pondered them

In their hearts.

They said.

‘What then

Will this child become?’

Indeed,

The hand

Of the Lord

Was with him.”

 

καὶ ἔθεντο πάντες οἱ ἀκούσαντες ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῶν, λέγοντες Τί ἄρα τὸ παιδίον τοῦτο ἔσται; καὶ γὰρ χεὶρ Κυρίου ἦν μετ’ αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke indicated that there were great expectations about what was going to happen to his wonder child, John.  All the people were talking and listening (καὶ ἔθεντο πάντες οἱ ἀκούσαντες) to these words and activities.  They began to wonder in their hearts (ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῶν) what would become of this child (λέγοντες Τί ἄρα τὸ παιδίον τοῦτο ἔσται), since the hand of the Lord was on him (καὶ γὰρ χεὶρ Κυρίου ἦν μετ’ αὐτοῦ) in some special way.  Big things were in store for this baby John.

The strength of God (Lk 1:51-1:51)

“God

Has shown strength

With his arm.

He has scattered

The proud thinking

In their hearts.”

 

Ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ, διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν·

 

This canticle of Mary was modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:3-4, that praised Yahweh for her son, Samuel the prophet.  Hannah said that the mighty and the rich would stumble but the low and the poor would succeed.  Here Luke indicated that Mary said that God had shown strength with his arm (Ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ).  Thus, he has scattered the proud thinking in their hearts (διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν).  The power of God would scatter the proud people.

Jesus questions his detractors (Mk 2:8-2:8)

“Immediately,

Jesus perceived

In his spirit

That they were discussing

These questions

Among themselves.

He said to them.

‘Why do you raise

Such questions

In your hearts?’”

 

καὶ εὐθὺς ἐπιγνοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ ὅτι οὕτως διαλογίζονται ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, λέγει αὐτοῖς Τί ταῦτα διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν;

 

Luke, chapter 5:22, and Matthew, chapter 9:4, are similar to Mark, with Luke closer to Mark, so that Mark might be the source of this saying.  Mark said that Jesus immediately seemed to know with his spirit what they were thinking (καὶ εὐθὺς ἐπιγνοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ).  They were discussing, debating, or considering this among themselves (ὅτι οὕτως διαλογίζονται ἐν ἑαυτοῖς).  However, the text did not indicate that they had been discussing this issue among themselves, but only in their hearts.  Jesus then asked them (λέγει αὐτοῖς) why they were discussing or raising such questions in their hearts (Τί ταῦτα διαλογίζεσθε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν).  He did not call them evil thoughts as Matthew had done in chapter 9:4.