Jesus perceived their craftiness (Lk 20:23-20:23)

“But Jesus perceived

Their craftiness.”

 

κατανοήσας δὲ αὐτῶν τὴν πανουργίαν

 

Luke said that Jesus perceived, understood, or discerned (κατανοήσας) their cunning craftiness (δὲ αὐτῶν τὴν πανουργίαν).  There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 22:18, and in Mark, chapter 12:15.  Mark said that Jesus was aware of their evil intentions or hypocrisy (ὁ δὲ εἰδὼς αὐτῶν τὴν ὑπόκρισιν).  He asked them (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) why were they testing or tempting him (Τί με πειράζετε)?  This idea of testing or tricking Jesus was a common theme in the gospels.  Matthew said that Jesus was aware of their evil intentions (γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν πονηρίαν αὐτῶν).  He called them hypocrites (ὑποκριταί).  He wanted to know why they were testing or tempting him (εἶπεν Τί με πειράζετε).  This idea of testing or tricking Jesus was a common theme in the Gospel of Matthew, as in chapter 4:7, at the time of his temptations at the beginning of his ministry, as well as in chapter 16:1, when the Pharisees were asking for signs, and in chapter 19:3, when they were asking about divorce.  Jesus referred to them as hypocrites in chapter 6:2-5, when they were praying in public places, and in chapter 6:16, when they were fasting, as well as in chapter 15:7, when they were dishonoring their parents in order to worship in the Temple.  Do you consider yourself crafty?

The prayer of Elizabeth (Lk 1:25-1:25)

“Elizabeth said.

‘This is what

The Lord

Has done to me.

He looked on me.

He took away

The disgrace

That I have endured

Among my people.’”

 

λέγουσα

ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος ἐν ἡμέραις αἷς ἐπεῖδεν ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός μου ἐν ἀνθρώποις.

 

Luke has this prayer of Elizabeth.  She said that the Lord had done this to her (ὅτι Οὕτως μοι πεποίηκεν Κύριος).  Many believed that only God could help people get pregnant, since he controlled the opening and closing of the womb, as indicated in Genesis, chapter 16:2, about Sarah and being barren.  That was the reason that there were so many pagan fertility gods, rites, and rituals, since giving birth was considered to be some kind of magical or divine action.  Also, contemporary political gesturing around reproductive rights has its basis in religious beliefs.  Elizabeth said that in those days (ἐν ἡμέραις), the Lord had looked on her (αἷς ἐπεῖδεν), since he took away her disgrace or reproach (ἀφελεῖν ὄνειδός) that she had endured among her people or other men (ἐν ἀνθρώποις).  Being barren or sterile was considered a punishment from God.  The prime example of a happiness at birth would have been in Genesis, chapter 29:31-30:23, where Rachel finally had a son, Joseph.  Elizabeth understood her pregnancy as a personal vindication or reward for her righteousness.  She did not seem to understand the wider consequences of her pregnancy.

 

Third narrative

This third narrative centered around a variety of miracles and various comments to his disciples.  Jesus cured the leper before great crowds, but then told him to keep it a secret.  Then he cured the centurion’s paralyzed servant at Capernaum.  This Roman soldier understood the role of authority since he had faith.  Jesus chastised the failure of the sons of Abraham but healed the Roman centurion’s servant.

Jesus also cured other sick and possessed people, including Peter’s mother-in-law.  He thus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah.  He had some scribe followers, even though Jesus was homeless.  Was the death of a father enough to disrupt a disciple?  During a stormy boat ride, they woke up Jesus.  Thus, he responded by showing them his power by calming the storm.

Jesus cured the two possessed demoniacs who were calling out to him as the Son of God.  These demons wanted to be pigs, so that they died in the sea, jumping off a cliff.  However, the herdsmen in the city were upset so that the people asked Jesus to leave.

Jesus then went home and cured a paralytic.  Did Jesus blaspheme?  What was the difference between sin and sickness?  The people were amazed at his powers.  Jesus then called Matthew, the tax collector.  Jesus hung out with these tax collectors and sinners, so that the Pharisees complained.  Jesus responded by asking if well people needed doctors?  Then there was a citation from Hosea about mercy.

The Pharisees wanted to know why his disciples were not fasting, but the disciples of John the Baptist were.  Jesus explained that there would be no fasting while he, the bridegroom, was present.  You did not use old cloth to mend clothes or put new wine in old wineskins.

Then Jesus cured the woman with hemorrhages, because she was a woman of faith.  Then he cured the dead girl who was only sleeping.  He cured the two blind men because they were believers also.  He cured the mute person so that he could speak again.  The Pharisees questioned the power of Jesus.  However, Jesus had compassion for the sheep because there would be a need for many laborers at the harvest time.

Then Jesus began his apostolic talk to his disciples, in particular about the authority of the twelve disciples, with four major apostles.  Matthew then listed the twelve apostles that would be sent to the Jews and what their work was.  Jesus told them what to bring with them and where to stay.  He told them how to enter a house.  Those unhospitable towns who did not accept them would be punished.  These apostles should be like wise simple sheep.  When they would be persecuted, the Holy Spirit would speak through them.  They would be involved in family disputes and hated.  Both the teacher and his disciples would suffer, but they should not be afraid.  They should proclaim the message.  They were to worry about their souls, since they had more value than sparrows.  They should acknowledge Jesus whether in peace or with the sword.  Who was worthy of Jesus?  You had to pick up your cross and lose your life to find it.  Receive Jesus and be a prophet as the righteous disciple of Jesus.

Elijah and John the Baptist (Mt 17:12-17:13)

“‘But I tell you!

Elijah has already come.

They did not recognize him.

But they did to him

Whatever they pleased.

Thus,

The Son of Man

Is about to suffer

At their hands.’

Then the disciples

Understood

That he was speaking

To them

About John the Baptist.”

 

λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι Ἡλείας ἤδη ἦλθεν, καὶ οὐκ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτὸν, ἀλλ’ ἐποίησαν ἐν αὐτῷ ὅσα ἠθέλησαν· οὕτως καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μέλλει πάσχειν ὑπ’ αὐτῶν.

τότε συνῆκαν οἱ μαθηταὶ ὅτι περὶ Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς.

 

The comparison of John the Baptist and Elijah can also be found in Mark, chapter 9:12-13, but without the remark about the disciples understanding it.  Jesus told his disciples in a solemn pronouncement (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν).  He said that Elijah had already come (ὅτι Ἡλείας ἤδη ἦλθεν), but they did not recognize him (καὶ οὐκ ἐπέγνωσαν αὐτὸν).  They did to him whatever they pleased or wanted to do (ἀλλ’ ἐποίησαν ἐν αὐτῷ ὅσα ἠθέλησαν).  Thus, the Son of Man was also about to suffer at their hands (οὕτως καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μέλλει πάσχειν ὑπ’ αὐτῶν.).  Then the disciples understood (τότε συνῆκαν οἱ μαθηταὶ) that Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist (ὅτι περὶ Ἰωάνου τοῦ Βαπτιστοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  The murdered John the Baptist was the new precursor prophet Elijah.

The yeast of the Pharisees (Mt 16:11-16:12)

“How could you fail

To perceive

That I was not speaking

To you

About bread?

Beware of the yeast

Of the Pharisees

And Sadducees!’

Then they understood

That he had not told them

To beware

Of the yeast of the bread,

But of the teaching

Of the Pharisees

And Sadducees.”

 

πῶς οὐ νοεῖτε ὅτι οὐ περὶ ἄρτων εἶπον ὑμῖν; προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.

τότε συνῆκαν ὅτι οὐκ εἶπεν προσέχειν ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν ἄρτων, ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ τῆς διδαχῆς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, via Matthew, asked the disciples how they could not perceive or understand (πῶς οὐ νοεῖτε) that he was not speaking to them about bread (ὅτι οὐ περὶ ἄρτων εἶπον ὑμῖν).  Instead, he was warning them about the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees (προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων).  Finally, they understood (τότε συνῆκαν) that he was not talking to them about the yeast in bread (ὅτι οὐκ εἶπεν προσέχειν ἀπὸ τῆς ζύμης τῶν ἄρτων), but the yeast of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees (ἀλλὰ ἀπὸ τῆς διδαχῆς τῶν Φαρισαίων καὶ Σαδδουκαίων.).  Once again, Jesus, via Matthew, took a shot at both the Pharisees and Sadducees, but not the Scribes.  The Pharisees were a political party, a social movement, and a religious school of thought that followed the Law of Moses, but with a number of oral traditions.  They had they own expert explanations of Jewish law that sometimes appeared to be hypocritical or arrogant, with a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple.  The Sadducees, on the other hand, were generally aristocratic priestly officials, tied to the Temple and ritual purifications.  They were less concerned about oral traditions, so that they might have been political religious rivals to the Pharisees.  However, Jesus warned his disciples against both groups and their teaching yeasts.

The authority of the centurion (Mt 8:8-8:9)

“The centurion responded.

‘Lord!

I am not worthy

To have you

Come under my roof!

But only say the word,

Then my servant

Will be healed.

I am a man

Under authority,

With soldiers

Under me.

I say to one.

‘Go!’

Then he goes.

I say to another.

‘Come!’

Then he comes.

I say to my slave.

‘Do this!’

Then he does it.’”

 

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος ἔφη Κύριε, οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα μου ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην εἰσέλθῃς· ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγῳ, καὶ ἰαθήσεται ὁ παῖς μου.

καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν, ἔχων ὑπ’ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας, καὶ λέγω τούτῳ Πορεύθητι, καὶ πορεύεται, καὶ ἄλλῳ Ἔρχου, καὶ ἔρχεται, καὶ τῷ δούλῳ μου Ποίησον τοῦτο, καὶ ποιεῖ.

 

This saying of the centurion is exactly the same as in Luke, chapter 7:6-10, perhaps indicating a Q source.  The Roman centurion responded to Jesus (ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ ἑκατόνταρχος ἔφη).  Calling him “Lord” (Κύριε) again, this centurion said that he was not worthy to have such an important man as Jesus enter into his house (οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα μου ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην εἰσέλθῃς).  He merely wanted Jesus to say the word (ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγῳ), and then his servant would be healed (καὶ ἰαθήσεται ὁ παῖς μου).  He explained that he understood authority (καὶ γὰρ ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπός εἰμι ὑπὸ ἐξουσίαν), since he was a Roman solider under the authority of his superiors and yet at the same time, he had soldiers under him (ἔχων ὑπ’ ἐμαυτὸν στρατιώτας).  Thus, if he said to one to go (καὶ λέγω τούτῳ Πορεύθητι, καὶ πορεύεται,) or come (καὶ ἄλλῳ Ἔρχου, καὶ ἔρχεται), they would do precisely that.  The same would be true of his slave who would do whatever he told him to do (καὶ τῷ δούλῳ μου Ποίησον τοῦτο, καὶ ποιεῖ).  This saying about not being worthy has entered into the Roman Catholic liturgy as a prayer before receiving Holy Communion.

Herod kills all the two-year old boys (Mt 2:16-2:16)

“When Herod saw

That he had been tricked

By the magi,

He was infuriated.

He sent men

To kill

All the male children

In and around Bethlehem

Who were two years old

Or under.

This was based

According to the time frame

That he had ascertained

From the magi.”

 

Τότε Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν παρὰ τῶν μάγων.

 

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Herod realized that he had been tricked or outwitted by the magi (Τότε Ἡρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων), those tricky magicians.  He was very angry (ἐθυμώθη λίαν), so he sent out people (ἀποστείλας).  He ordered them to kill all the little infant boys (ἀνεῖλεν πάντας τοὺς παῖδας) under the age of 2 in the Bethlehem area and vicinity (τοὺς ἐν Βηθλέεμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς).  He picked the age of 2 and under (ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω) based on the information about the time frame (κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσεν) about the birth of this child that he had understood from the magi (παρὰ τῶν μάγων).  However, since the Bethlehem area was sparsely populated, this might have meant that he only killed about 20 children at most.  Thus, there would not have been wide spread panic, except in Bethlehem itself.  This story of the killing of the infant male children is like that of the Israelite male children in Exodus, chapter 1:15-22, where Moses was saved, just like Jesus here.  There, the Egyptian king told the midwives to kill every male Israelite baby.  Finally, he had all the Israelite male babies thrown into the Nile River.

A Community of Believers

No man is an island.  We exist in a society, in a community.  We grow up in a family, in a community of people.  As a Christian, we must live in a Christian community.  The Christian religious experience is always lived within a community.  Individual spirituality leads to a commitment not merely as an individual, but to the larger community of Christian believers.  Even the hermits understood that they shared in the larger Christian community.  Just as there is no religious practice without a religion, there cannot be any Christian belief except within a Christian community, a Christian Church.  An individual and communal faith goes hand in hand, not face to face.  God created us out of love, so faith is within a community.  If faith is not communal it is not complete.  Nevertheless, nearly half of American Christian believers are not affiliated with a church, because we live in a highly individualist country.  There is a certain hypocrisy that allows each of us to define our morality as what we would like to do.  We have lost the sense of personal and social responsibility for the common good as “me” and my individual personal experience becomes more important.  We are social by nature and need the common experience of worship.

The wages of thirty silver shekels (Zech 11:12-11:13)

“Then I said to them.

‘If it seems right to you,

Give me my wages.

But if not,

Keep them.’

Thus,

They weighed out,

As my wages,

Thirty shekels of silver.

Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Throw it into the treasury.’

This is the lordly price

At which I was valued

By them.

Thus,

I took the thirty shekels

Of silver.

I threw them

Into the treasury

In the house of Yahweh.”

Zechariah asked the sheep merchants whether he would he be paid any wages.  Then they weighted out 30 silver shekels, the price of a slave.  This insult was added to injury.  Next Yahweh told Zechariah to throw this money, the lordly price of a slave, into the Temple treasury.  They obviously had not understood his value.  Like all good prophets, Zechariah did what Yahweh asked him to do.  He threw the 30 silver shekels into the treasury in the house of Yahweh.