Ten lepers (Lk 17:12-17:12)

“As Jesus

Entered a village,

Ten lepers

Approached him.

They kept

Their distance.”

 

καὶ εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην ἀπήντησαν δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες, οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν

 

Only Luke has this story about the curing of the ten lepers, although Luke had Jesus cure a leper earlier in chapter 5:12-16, that can be found in the other synoptics, Matthew, chapter 8:1-4, and Mark, chapter 1:40-45.  Luke indicated that Jesus entered a village (καὶ εἰσερχομένου αὐτοῦ εἴς τινα κώμην), where 10 lepers approached or met him (ἀπήντησαν δέκα λεπροὶ ἄνδρες).  However, these lepers kept their distance (οἳ ἔστησαν πόρρωθεν).  Leprosy was some kind of skin disease that was usually found among poor people.  Today, there are about 2,000,000 people with leprosy or Hansen’s disease, mostly in India, Indonesia, and Brazil.  The Greek word “λέπρας” used here is a broader definition of leprosy than just Hansen’s disease.  Leprosy was a Jewish religious problem also.  What to do about it was clearly defined in Leviticus, chapters 13-14.  Leprosy in the wide sense was considered unclean and had religious connotations, since only a priest could declare a person clean, with a distinct ritual for cleansing the leper.  As a leper, they were considered unclean and not fit to live in normal communal life.  Thus, there were spiritual, physical, social, and religious implications with being a leper.  Here there were 10 lepers in this village, so that they might have been a small leper colony.  They approached Jesus, but kept their appropriate distance from him, since they were quarantined from being with other non-leper people.  Have you ever met a leper?

The power of the twelve (Lk 9:1-9:1)

“Then Jesus called

The twelve apostles together.

He gave them power

And authority

Over all the demons,

As well as

The power

And authority

To cure diseases.”

 

Συνκαλεσάμενος δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς δύναμιν καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια καὶ νόσους θεραπεύειν·

 

Luke said that Jesus called the 12 apostles together (Συνκαλεσάμενος δὲ τοὺς δώδεκα).  He gave them (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς) power (δύναμιν) and authority (καὶ ἐξουσίαν) over all the demons (πάντα τὰ δαιμόνια).  He also gave them the power and authority to cure diseases (καὶ νόσους θεραπεύειν).  This section about the power, the authority, and the mission of the 12 disciples or apostles is similar to Matthew, chapter 10:1, and Mark, chapter 6:7.  Mark said that Jesus summoned or called his 12 apostles, as he began to send them out 2 by 2.  He gave them authority over unclean or impure spirits.  Thus, they could cast out or banish these evil spirits or demons.  However, Mark did not mention curing diseases, illnesses, sicknesses, or weakness, just casting out the evil spirits that might have been the cause of their illnesses.  Matthew said that Jesus summoned or called to him his 12 disciples.  He called them disciples rather than the ambiguous “12.”  He gave them spiritual authority over unclean or impure spirits.  Thus, they could cast out or banish these evil spirits or demons.  They were also able to cure, treat, or heal all diseases, illnesses, sicknesses, or weakness.  In other words, Jesus was giving his own power or authority to cast out evil spirits and heal people to these 12 disciples or apostles.  This was a big deal.  The number 12 corresponded to the number of sons of Jacob or the 12 tribes of Israel.  This authority will be referred to later as the apostolic authority.  Jesus thus established these 12 disciples or apostles to carry on his work in casting out or exorcising evil spirits and curing people of their illnesses.  What do you think about this apostolic authority?

Jesus tells the young man to rise up (Lk 7:14-7:14)

“Then the Lord

Came forward.

He touched the bier.

The pall bearers

Stood still.

The Lord said.

‘Young man!

 I say to you!

Arise!’”

 

καὶ προσελθὼν ἥψατο τῆς σοροῦ, οἱ δὲ βαστάζοντες ἔστησαν, καὶ εἶπεν Νεανίσκε, σοὶ λέγω, ἐγέρθητι.

 

Luke uniquely said that the Lord Jesus came forward (καὶ προσελθὼν) and touched the funeral bier (ἥψατο τῆς σοροῦ).  The pall bearers stood still (οἱ δὲ βαστάζοντες ἔστησαν).  The Lord told the young man (καὶ εἶπεν Νεανίσκε) with a solemn pronouncement of I say to you (σοὶ λέγω), rise up (ἐγέρθητι).  Luke used the pronoun he to speak about the Lord.  This would have been a shocking thing to touch the funeral bier, since it made people unclean to touch a dead person.  Thus, the pall bearers were taken back.  However, the command of Jesus telling the young man to get up meant that he was not dead.  This is the first instance of a man being raised from the dead, but it is only found here in Luke, not elsewhere.  This would be a big deal, not just curing people of illness and diseases, or chasing demons out of people.  This was a raising from the dead, a foretaste of the resurrection.  Have you ever heard of a young man getting up from a funeral casket?

Jesus rebukes the demon (Lk 4:35-4:35)

“But Jesus rebuked him.

Saying.

‘Be silent!

Come out of him!’

The demon

Had thrown him down

Before them.

He came out of him

Without having done

Any harm.”

 

καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ. καὶ ῥίψαν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον εἰς τὸ μέσον ἐξῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ μηδὲν βλάψαν αὐτόν.

 

This is very similar, almost word for word, to Mark, chapter 1:25-26.  Luke said that Jesus rebuked the evil spirit (καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς).  Rebuking was a common Hebrew term used in exorcisms, while in Greek it has a more English sense of warning, chiding, or admonishing.  Jesus told him to be silent (λέγων Φιμώθητι), so that the unclean or evil spirit could come out of that person (καὶ ἔξελθε ἀπ’αὐτοῦ).  Then Luke had an explanation about how the unclean spirit left this person unharmed.  The demon threw him down (καὶ ῥίψαν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον) in the midst (εἰς τὸ μέσον) of everyone there.  Then the evil spirit came out of him (ἐξῆλθεν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ) without having done any harm to him (μηδὲν βλάψαν αὐτόν).  Mark said that the unclean spirit convulsed this person, so that crying with a great loud voice, he came out of that one person.  Thus, the exorcism was complete

Many people were baptized by John (Lk 3:21-3:21)

“All the people

Were baptized.”

 

Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν

 

Mark, chapter 1:5, and Matthew, chapter 3:5-6, spoke about all the people coming out to be baptized by John the Baptist.  Matthew, like Mark, mentioned that all the people from Jerusalem and the Judean area were going out to see John the Baptist.  However, Matthew also added that the people from along the Jordan River, a little further north, were also coming out to see him.  Mark said that all the people from the whole Judea countryside or region as well as all the people of Jerusalem were going out to see John   Perhaps not all the people of Judea and Jerusalem went out to be baptized by John.  Luke here, on the other hand, gave no geographical indications.  He simply generically stated that all the people were baptized (Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν).  Once again, “all” might be an exaggeration.  John baptized these people in the Jordan River, while they were confessing their sins.  The Jordan River is north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.  Jewish baptisms were not that uncommon.  Washing was a physical and spiritual cleansing for sins, as people were unclean or dirty.  Thus, in the process of this spiritual cleansing, they would confess their sins.  John’s baptism had a few unique qualities, since it was a moral statement with an expectation of a coming Messiah or savior.  Clearly, John held a central role in the gospels of Mark and Luke, since they started their stories about Jesus with John.

The purification (Lk 2:22-2:22)

“When the time came

For their purification,

According to the law

Of Moses,

They brought him up

To Jerusalem

To present him

To the Lord.”

 

Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα παραστῆσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ,

 

Luke said that when the time or the days were completed (Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι) for their purification (τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν), according to the law of Moses (κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem (ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα) to present him to the Lord (παραστῆσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ).  What is this purification and is it different than circumcision.  The story of John did not have this purification ritual.  Strictly speaking, this was a purification of the mother to take place 40 days after the birth of a child that had made her unclean as described in Leviticus, chapter 12:1-8.  The presentation of the child and the father were not part of this purification ritual.  There was no law or custom about the presentation of a child, other than the presentation of the first born as in Exodus, chapter 13:2 and 13:16.  Women were considered unclean after childbirth because of the blood discharge that took place with birthing.  If a male was born, the woman was unclean for 7 days, like menstruation, so that on the 8th day the male child could be circumcised.  There were 33 more days of blood purification for the male child.  During her unclean period, this new mother could not touch any holy thing, or go into the sanctuary.  Thus, the purification ritual took place on the 40th day, a symbolic number based on the 40 years of the Israelites in the desert wilderness.

Evil comes from the human heart (Mk 7:21-7:23)

“It is from within,

From the human heart,

That evil intentions come.

Fornication,

Theft,

Murder,

Adultery,

Avarice,

Wickedness,

Deceit,

Licentiousness,

Envy,

Slander,

Pride,

And folly,

All these evil things

Come from within.

They defile a person.”

 

ἔσωθεν γὰρ ἐκ τῆς καρδίας τῶν ἀνθρώπων οἱ διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ ἐκπορεύονται, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, φόνοι,

μοιχεῖαι, πλεονεξίαι, πονηρίαι, δόλος, ἀσέλγεια, ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός, βλασφημία, ὑπερηφανία, ἀφροσύνη·

πάντα ταῦτα τὰ πονηρὰ ἔσωθεν ἐκπορεύεται καὶ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:19-20.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that it is from within the heart of a person (ἔσωθεν γὰρ ἐκ τῆς καρδίας τῶν ἀνθρώπων) that evil or wicked thoughts come forth spreading out (οἱ διαλογισμοὶ οἱ κακοὶ ἐκπορεύονται).  This included such evil things as fornication or pornography (πορνεῖαι), theft (κλοπαί), murders or killings (φόνοι), adulteries (μοιχεῖαι), avarice (πλεονεξίαι), wickedness (πονηρίαι), deceit (δόλος), licentiousness or wanton sensuality (ἀσέλγεια,), envy or the evil eye (ὀφθαλμὸς πονηρός), slander, abusive language, or blasphemy (βλασφημία), pride (ὑπερηφανία), and folly or foolishness (ἀφροσύνη).  This list in Mark was longer and different than the list in Matthew.  All these evil things came from within (πάντα ταῦτα τὰ πονηρὰ ἔσωθεν).  They come forth from the person (ἐκπορεύεται).  They are the things that defile a person (καὶ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  You can clearly see what Jesus, his disciples, and the early Christian community considered as sins or defilements that made a person unclean or defiled.