Tribute to Caesar (Lk 20:22-20:22)

“Is it lawful

For us

To pay taxes

To Caesar,

The Roman Emperor,

Or not?”

 

ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς Καίσαρι φόρον δοῦναι ἢ οὔ;

 

Luke indicated this group asked whether it was lawful for them (ἔξεστιν ἡμᾶς) to pay taxes (φόρον δοῦναι) to Caesar (Καίσαρι), the Roman Emperor, or not (ἢ οὔ)?  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 22:17, and Mark, chapter 12:14, but slightly different.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax law.  Mark said that they asked him whether it was lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  They wanted to know the practical answer about whether they should pay this tax or not (δῶμεν ἢ μὴ δῶμεν)?  Matthew indicated that these Pharisee disciples and the Herodians tried to trick Jesus.  They wanted to know what Jesus thought about the Roman tax.  They asked him (εἰπὸν οὖν ἡμῖν) what did he think (τί σοι δοκεῖ).  Was it lawful to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not (ἔξεστιν δοῦναι κῆνσον Καίσαρι ἢ οὔ)?  Rome had an annual personal census tax of one denarius worth about $1.50 USA, not that much.  However, many of the Roman tax collectors were considered sinners.  Jesus, on the other hand, had a milder view of these tax collectors.  He appeared to accept the Roman rule and its taxing policies.  As the political party of the Romans, the Herodians were there.  The Israelites with the Pharisees were there also.  Thus, his answer might offend someone.  In fact, some Jewish zealots refused to pay any civil tax to the emperor.  Do you like to pay taxes?

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John was a prophet (Lk 20:6-20:6)

“But if we say.

‘Of human origin,

All the people

Will stone us.

They are convinced

That John

Was a prophet.’”

 

ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, ὁ λαὸς ἅπας καταλιθάσει ἡμᾶς· πεπεισμένος γάρ ἐστιν Ἰωάνην προφήτην εἶναι.

 

Luke indicated that the Jerusalem Jewish leaders thought that if they said the baptism of John was of human origin (ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων), all the people would stone them (ὁ λαὸς ἅπας καταλιθάσει ἡμᾶς), because the people were convinced or persuaded (πεπεισμένος) that John was a prophet (γάρ ἐστιν Ἰωάνην προφήτην εἶναι).  Once again, this is a unique Luke usage of the term καταλιθάσει, to cast stones, stone down, stone to death, or overwhelm with stones, that is not found elsewhere in the Greek biblical literature.  This question about the value of the baptism of John the Baptist can also be found in Matthew, chapter 21:26, and Mark, chapter 11:32, almost word for word.  Mark said that these Jewish Jerusalem leaders did not want to say that this baptism of John was from human origins, man-made (ἀλλὰ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων).  They were afraid of the crowds of people (ἐφοβοῦντο τὸν ὄχλον), since they all regarded John the Baptist as a true prophet (ἅπαντες γὰρ εἶχον τὸν Ἰωάνην ὄντως ὅτι προφήτης ἦν).  Matthew indicated that if these leaders said that this baptism of John was from human origins (ἐὰν δὲ εἴπωμεν Ἐξ ἀνθρώπων), they were afraid of the crowds of people (φοβούμεθα τὸν ὄχλον), since they all regarded John the Baptist as a prophet (φοβούμεθα τὸν ὄχλον).  There was no mention of being stoned in Mark and Matthew, only in Luke.  Nevertheless, these leaders were stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Have you ever been unable to answer a question?

A parable near Jerusalem (Lk 19:11-19:11)

“As they were listening

To these things,

Jesus proceeded

To tell a parable.

He was near Jerusalem.

Thus,

They supposed

That the kingdom of God

Was to appear

Immediately.”

 

Ἀκουόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ταῦτα προσθεὶς εἶπεν παραβολὴν, διὰ τὸ ἐγγὺς εἶναι Ἱερουσαλὴμ αὐτὸν καὶ δοκεῖν αὐτοὺς ὅτι παραχρῆμα μέλλει ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀναφαίνεσθαι·

 

Only Luke had this unique introduction to this parable.  He said that as the disciples were listening to these things (Ἀκουόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ταῦτα), presumably the story about Zacchaeus, Jesus proceeded to tell another parable (προσθεὶς εἶπεν παραβολὴν).  He was near his Jerusalem goal (διὰ τὸ ἐγγὺς εἶναι Ἱερουσαλὴμ αὐτὸν), which meant that he was in Jericho or between Jericho and Jerusalem.  The disciples supposed or thought (καὶ δοκεῖν αὐτοὺς) that the kingdom of God (ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ) was about to appear immediately or soon (ὅτι παραχρῆμα μέλλει…ἀναφαίνεσθαι).  Somehow the disciples assumed that if they got to Jerusalem, the kingdom of God would be revealed to them.  They anticipated that the messianic age would happen.  Some more revolutionary followers may have even expected a political earthly kingdom to be established, in opposition to the Roman occupation.  This parable was meant to tone down their expectations about an earthly kingdom and the immediacy of this new heavenly kingdom.  Do you expect the the kingdom of God to come soon?

Forgiveness (Lk 17:4-17:4)

“If the same person

Sins against you

Seven times

A day,

Yet turns back

To you

Seven times,

And says.

‘I repent!’

You must forgive!”

 

καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ λέγων Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that if the same person sinned against you (ἁμαρτήσῃ εἰς σὲ) 7 times a day (καὶ ἐὰν ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας), yet turned back to you 7 times (καὶ ἑπτάκις ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς σὲ), and said that he repented (Μετανοῶ, ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ), you must still forgive him (ἀφήσεις αὐτῷ).  There is something like this saying in Matthew, chapter 18:21-22, although there was no mention of Peter here in LukeMatthew indicated that Peter took on a specific leadership role.  He wanted to know how many times he should forgive his brother’s sins?  Peter wanted to know how often he should forgive his brother who had sinned against him (ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ).  Peter thought that 7 would be a good number.  Was 7 times enough (ἕως ἑπτάκις)?  Most Jewish people had forgiven offenses 3 times.  3 strikes and you were out.  Peter seemed overly generous in his attempts at forgiveness.  Jesus surprised Peter with a solemn declaration (λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦ) by telling him to forgive his brother’s sins not just 7 times (Οὐ λέγω σοι ἕως ἑπτάκις) but 490 times, 7*70 (ἀλλὰ ἕως ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά).  However, this saying about 7*70 was unique to Matthew, who was the only one who ever used this number ἑβδομηκοντάκις ἑπτά in the New Testament literature.  This number, nevertheless, could be found in Genesis, chapter 4:24 when Cain and Lamech were talking about violent revenge.  Lamech wanted his vengeance 7*70.  Was this number an attempt to indicate infinity before we had that term?  490 seems overly generous in any circumstances.  However, here in Luke, it might be even more since forgiveness was expected 7 times each day.  How many times do you forgive people?

 

The sinner (Lk 15:18-15:18)

“I will get up.

I will go

To my father.

I will say to him.

‘Father!

I have sinned

Against heaven

And before you.’”

 

ἀναστὰς πορεύσομαι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου καὶ ἐρῶ αὐτῷ Πάτερ, ἥμαρτον εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐνώπιόν σου,

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that finally, this prodigal son said that he would get up (ἀναστὰς) and go home to his father (πορεύσομαι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου).  He was going to say to his father (καὶ ἐρῶ αὐτῷ Πάτερ) that he had sinned (ἥμαρτον) against heaven (εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν) and his father (εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  This prodigal son finally came to his senses.  He was going to go home and ask for forgiveness from heaven and his father.  Have you ever thought about going home to ask forgiveness from your family for what you have done?

Sin and punishment (Lk 13:2-13:2)

“Jesus asked them.

‘Do you think

That these Galileans,

Suffered in this way

Because they were

Worse sinners

Than all the other Galileans?’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Δοκεῖτε ὅτι οἱ Γαλιλαῖοι οὗτοι ἁμαρτωλοὶ παρὰ πάντας τοὺς Γαλιλαίους ἐγένοντο, ὅτι ταῦτα πεπόνθασιν; 

 

Next Luke uniquely indicated how Jesus used this contemporary event to make a point.  Jesus asked them (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) if they thought (Δοκεῖτε) that these Galileans (ὅτι οἱ Γαλιλαῖοι οὗτοι) suffered this way (ὅτι ταῦτα πεπόνθασιν) because they were worse sinners than all the other Galileans (ἁμαρτωλοὶ παρὰ πάντας τοὺς Γαλιλαίους ἐγένοντο)?  Jesus wanted to know if they thought that Galileans who got killed offering their sacrifice at the Temple were worse sinners than the other Galileans.  Is it worse to die in Church?  Does the type of death that you endure indicate what kind of sinner you were?

 

Storage space (Lk 12:17-12:17)

“He thought to himself.

‘What shall I do?

I have no place

To store my crops.’”

 

καὶ διελογίζετο ἐν ἑαυτῷ λέγων Τί ποιήσω, ὅτι οὐκ ἔχω ποῦ συνάξω τοὺς καρπούς μου;

 

Luke uniquely continued this parable about the rich man.  Jesus said that this rich man thought or was reasoning to himself (καὶ διελογίζετο ἐν ἑαυτῷ λέγων) what should I do (Τί ποιήσω)?  He had no place to store his crops (ὅτι οὐκ ἔχω ποῦ συνάξω τοὺς καρπούς μου).  This seems like a legitimate concern.  His harvest had been so abundant that he no place to put all his harvested crops.  Do you worry about a place to put all your stuff?