The man with two sons (Lk 15:11-15:11)

“Then Jesus said.

‘There was a man

Who had two sons.’”

 

Εἶπεν δέ Ἄνθρωπός τις εἶχεν δύο υἱούς.

 

This unique parable in Luke continues the theme of lost things that are found.  First, it was the sheep, then the coin, but now it is a lost son.  Luke has this lovely long story about finding oneself and mending lost relationships.  He indicated that then Jesus said (Εἶπεν δέ) that there was a certain man (Ἄνθρωπός) who had 2 sons (τις εἶχεν δύο υἱούς).  This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Have you ever been estranged from a family member?

Adam (Lk 3:38-3:38)

“The son of Enos,

The son of Seth,

The son of Adam,

The son of God.”

 

τοῦ Ἐνὼς τοῦ Σὴθ τοῦ Ἀδὰμ τοῦ Θεοῦ.

 

These names are listed in 1 Chronicles 1:2-1:3, and Genesis, chapter 5:1-8.  Luke concluded his genealogy with Adam, whom he called the son of God.  This terminology was not part of the Jewish tradition.  Of course, this term was applied to Jesus, the Son of God.  Luke said that Cainan was the son of Enos (τοῦ Ἐνὼς), the son of Seth (τοῦ Σὴθ), the son of Adam (τοῦ Ἀδὰμ), the son of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ).  The grouping has the so-called first man Adam, with his son, and grandson.  His son, besides Cain and Abel who are not even mentioned here, was Seth who lived to be 912 years old.  Seth’s son was Enosh who lived to be 905 years old.  Obviously, there were other brothers and sisters, but they are not mentioned.  This genealogy repeats the theme of Genesis, chapter 1.  God created humans in the image of God, male and female.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image.  He named this son Seth.  Adam had other sons and daughters.  Thus, all the days that Adam lived were 930 years.  The offspring of Seth, and not Cain, were to lead to Noah.  Most of these patriarchs began having children in old age, but they all had other sons and daughters.  Seth became the father of Enosh.  Enosh was the son of Seth, but also the father of Kenan or Cainan.  Thus, Luke completed his genealogy by going from Jesus to Adam, while Matthew went from Abraham to Jesus.  These 77 names of Luke represented a lucky completion or fullness of time.  Jesus would not only be a Jewish leader of the tribe of Abraham, but a worldwide universal leader.

The mighty and the lowly (Lk 1:52-1:52)

“God has brought down

The powerful

From their thrones.

He has lifted up

The lowly.”

 

καθεῖλεν δυνάστας ἀπὸ θρόνων καὶ ὕψωσεν ταπεινούς

 

This canticle of Mary was modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:4, that praised Yahweh for her son, the prophet Samuel.  Just like here, Hannah said that the mighty and the rich would stumble, but the lowly and the poor would succeed.  Luke indicated that Mary said that God had brought down the powerful (καθεῖλεν δυνάστας) from their thrones (ἀπὸ θρόνων), while he has lifted up the lowly (καὶ ὕψωσεν ταπεινούς).  There is almost an exact equivalency between Hannah and Mary.  Mary had mentioned nothing about lowly people until now.  Luke emphasized this theme of the poor or lowly as important throughout his gospel.

The Spirit descended on Jesus (Mk 1:10-1:10)

“Just as he was coming up

Out of the water,

He saw

The heavens

Torn apart.

The Spirit

Descended upon him

Like a dove.”

 

καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν·

 

The role of the Holy Spirit at the baptism of Jesus was very important.  The four gospel stories show what happened to Jesus after he had been baptized Matthew, chapter 3:16, Luke, chapter 3:21-22, and John, chapter 1:32, are almost word for word the same as here.  John did not mention a dove, while Luke called it a bodily form of a dove.  Mark said that just as Jesus was coming up out of the water (καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος), he saw the heavens torn apart (εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς).  The Spirit descended upon him like a dove (καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν).  The heavens opened up or broke open was a theme found among the prophets Isaiah, chapter 63:19, and Ezekiel, chapter 1:1.  As Jesus came up from the water, not during the baptism itself, the Holy Spirit, as a dove, came to stay on Jesus.  Just as the dove after the great flood in Genesis, chapter 8:8-12, heralded a new age, so too Jesus would preach the good news in this new age.  With his prophetic vocation, Jesus was anointed with power to begin his public ministry of healing and exorcising.  The later concept of the anointing of Jesus with the Spirit referred to this action of the dove, after his baptism in the Jordan.  There was a clear distinction between the baptism of Jesus himself, and the specific dove bestowal of the Spirit that followed.  Despite the fact that there was no indication of any real anointing in any of these baptismal accounts of Jesus, the coming of the Spirit, in the form of a dove, was considered a symbolic anointing of Jesus within the Judaic prophetic line.  This incident functioned as the basis for an understanding of Jesus’ metaphorical anointing as “the anointed one,” “Christ.”  This symbolic metaphorical anointing action gathered many of the Hebrew bible strands of a messianic king, a sacerdotal high priest, a servant, and a prophet into this one event.   Within this process, the messianic time began with a pre-figuration of what was going to take place at the later Pentecost event, when the fullness of the Spirit came to all the followers of Jesus.

Pick up your cross (Mt 10:38-10:38)

“Whoever does not

Take up the cross

And follow after me

Is not worthy of me.”

 

καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου, οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 14:27, indicating a Q source.  Matthew had Jesus repeat this remark in chapter 16:24, about the same theme of unworthiness.  Mark, chapter 8:34 has the carrying of the cross as a condition of discipleship.  If you did not take up his cross (καὶ ὃς οὐ λαμβάνει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ) and follow after Jesus (καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ ὀπίσω μου), you were not worthy of Jesus (οὐκ ἔστιν μου ἄξιος).  This assumes knowledge of the cross and suffering of Jesus.  To be a follower of Jesus, you had to follow him and take up his cross.  The cross was the Roman way of punishment and execution.  After the death and resurrection of Jesus, it became a symbol of the death of Jesus on the cross.

The value of sparrows (Mt 10:29-10:31)

“Are not two sparrows

Sold for a penny?

Yet not one of them

Will fall to the ground

Without your Father’s will.

But even the hairs

Of your head

Are all numbered.

Do not be afraid!

You are of more value

Than many sparrows.”

 

οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται; καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν.

ὑμῶν δὲ καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶσαι ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν.

μὴ οὖν φοβεῖσθε· πολλῶν στρουθίων διαφέρετε ὑμεῖς.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapter 12:6-7, indicating a Q source.  Jesus, via Matthew, compared human life to 2 sparrows.  He asked whether 2 sparrows (οὐχὶ δύο στρουθία) that sold for a penny or a Greek “assarion” (ἀσσαρίου πωλεῖται), worth about 2 cents. were more valuable than humans.  Not one of these sparrows would fall to the ground without the heavenly Father (καὶ ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ πεσεῖται ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἄνευ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑμῶν).  God, the Father, could number all the hairs on their head (μῶν δὲ καὶ αἱ τρίχες τῆς κεφαλῆς πᾶσαι ἠριθμημέναι εἰσίν.).  They should not be afraid (μὴ οὖν φοβεῖσθε), because they are more valuable that many sparrows (πολλῶν στρουθίων διαφέρετε ὑμεῖς).  If God the Father cares for these insignificant birds, how much more is he concerned about humans.  There was a continual theme about not being afraid.

Public prayer (Mt 6:5-6:5)

“When you pray,

Do not be

Like the hypocrites!

They love to stand.

They pray

In the synagogues,

And at the street corners.

Thus,

They may be seen

By other men.

Truly,

I say to you,

They have received

Their reward.”

 

Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε, οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί· ὅτι φιλοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς γωνίαις τῶν πλατειῶν ἑστῶτες προσεύχεσθαι, ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν.

 

This is another saying of Jesus, only found in Matthew, that carries on with the theme of the hypocrites.  However, this time it is about prayer.  When the followers of Jesus went to pray (Καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε), they should not be like the hypocrites (οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί) who love to stand praying in the synagogues and the street corners (ὅτι φιλοῦσιν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ ἐν ταῖς γωνίαις τῶν πλατειῶν ἑστῶτες προσεύχεσθαι).  Just as they had done with their almsgiving, these hypocrites wanted to be seen by other men (ὅπως φανῶσιν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις).  Certainly, there was the common times for prayer of the faithful Jews.  The Greek word for hypocrites “οἱ ὑποκριταὶ” originally meant actors or someone who sought praise, while acting deceitfully.  According to Matthew, these hypocrites were usually the enemies of Jesus.  Just as about almsgiving, Matthew has Jesus give a solemn saying (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) concluding that these men who sought human appeal have already received their reward (ἀπέχουσιν τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν).  Is this a repudiation of public prayer?