The bad manager wasting things (Lk 16:1-16:1)

“Jesus said

To the disciples.

‘There was a rich man

Who had a house manager.

Charges were brought

To the rich man

That this manager

Was squandering

His property.’”

 

Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς Ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν πλούσιος ὃς εἶχεν οἰκονόμον, καὶ οὗτος διεβλήθη αὐτῷ ὡς διασκορπίζων τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said to his disciples (Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς) that there was a rich man (Ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν πλούσιος).  He had a manager of his affairs, a household manager, a steward, or a guardian (ὃς εἶχεν οἰκονόμον).  Luke used this unique Greek word οἰκονομεῖν, meaning household manager.  Although traditionally, he has been called a steward in English, household manager seems more correct.  However, charges were brought to the rich man (καὶ οὗτος διεβλήθη αὐτῷ).  This Greek word διεβλήθη is found once in the New Testament literature, only here in this story or parable of Luke.  The word διεβλήθη means slander, complaint, or accusation.  Someone had accused this manager of squandering or wasting this rich man’s property or possessions (ὡς διασκορπίζων τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ).  This rich man had a house manager taking care of his possessions.  Apparently, it was reported to him, that his manager was not doing a good job and may have been taking some of his property.  It is not exactly clear, but there were some problems.  Have you ever had a problem with someone who was to manage something for you?

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Cut the tree down (Lk 13:7-13:7)

“Thus,

He said

To the gardener.

‘See!

For three years,

I have come

Looking for fruit

On this fig tree.

Still,

I find none.

Cut it down!

Why should it

Be wasting the soil?’”

 

εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τὸν ἀμπελουργόν Ἰδοὺ τρία ἔτη ἀφ’ οὗ ἔρχομαι ζητῶν καρπὸν ἐν τῇ συκῇ ταύτῃ καὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκω· ἔκκοψον αὐτήν· ἵνα τί καὶ τὴν γῆν καταργεῖ;

 

Luke uniquely had Jesus continue with this parable story of the fig tree.  Jesus said that this fig tree owner spoke to his gardener (εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τὸν ἀμπελουργόν).  He told him that for 3 years (Ἰδοὺ τρία ἔτη ἀφ’ οὗ), he had come looking for fruit on this fig tree (ἔρχομαι ζητῶν καρπὸν ἐν τῇ συκῇ ταύτῃ).  However, he did not find any (καὶ οὐχ εὑρίσκω).  He told the gardener to cut it down (ἔκκοψον αὐτήν) because it was only wasting the soil (ἵνα τί καὶ τὴν γῆν καταργεῖ).  In other words, this fig tree did not have any fruit for 3 years.  Why not get rid of it?  The 3 years may represent the 3 years that Jesus was preaching and teaching with little results.  Have you ever been disappointed for 3 straight years?

A spirit seized him (Lk 9:39-9:39)

“Suddenly,

A spirit seized

The boy.

All at once,

He cried out.

This evil spirit

Convulsed him

Until he was foaming.

It bruised him.

It would scarcely

Leave him.”

 

καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν, καὶ ἐξαίφνης κράζει καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν μετὰ ἀφροῦ, καὶ μόλις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ συντρῖβον αὐτόν

 

Luke said that, a spirit seized this young boy (καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν).  All at once (καὶ ἐξαίφνης), he shrieked or cried out (κράζει).  This evil spirit convulsed him (καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν) until he was foaming (μετὰ ἀφροῦ,).  It bruised him (συντρῖβον αὐτόν), so that it would scarcely leave him alone (καὶ μόλις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ).  This story of the man with the incurable epileptic son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:15, Mark, chapter 9:18, and here in Luke, but there are differences in all 3 accounts.  Apparently, this man’s son was an epileptic, possessed by the devil.  This description of the young man’s suffering in Mark and Luke differed from Matthew, who had the child suffer very badly, falling into fire and water.  However, Mark had even a more descriptive narrative of what was happening to this young man.  He said that whenever the spirit seized him, it dashed or threw him down.  This young boy would foam at the mouth.  He would grind or gnash his teeth.  He would become rigid as he was wasting or withering away.  This sounded worse than Luke.  Have you ever seen a person in an epileptic seizure?

Jesus should know that she is a sinner (Lk 7:39-7:39)

“Now the Pharisee,

Who had invited Jesus,

Saw this.

He said to himself.

‘If this man

Were a prophet,

He would have known

Who

And what sort of woman

Is touching him.

She is a sinner.’”

 

ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Φαρισαῖος ὁ καλέσας αὐτὸν εἶπεν ἐν ἑαυτῷ λέγων Οὗτος εἰ ἦν προφήτης, ἐγίνωσκεν ἂν τίς καὶ ποταπὴ ἡ γυνὴ ἥτις ἅπτεται αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἁμαρτωλός ἐστιν.

 

Luke uniquely said that the Pharisee (ὁ Φαρισαῖος), who had invited Jesus (ὁ καλέσας αὐτὸν), saw this (ἰδὼν δὲ).  This Pharisee said to himself (εἶπεν ἐν ἑαυτῷ λέγων) that if Jesus was a prophet (Οὗτος εἰ ἦν προφήτης), he would have known (ἐγίνωσκεν) who and what sort of woman was touching him (ἂν τίς καὶ ποταπὴ ἡ γυνὴ ἥτις ἅπτεται αὐτοῦ).  She was a public sinner (τι ἁμαρτωλός ἐστιν).  In the other gospel stories, there was a complaint about wasting expensive oil on Jesus, but here the inner thoughts of the Pharisee seem to indicate that Jesus did not know or understand who he was dealing with.  Would you let a sinful person touch you?

The oil should have been given to the poor (Mk 14:5-14:5)

“‘This ointment

Could have been sold

For more

Than three hundred denarii.

The money

Could have been

Given to the poor.’

They scolded her.”

 

ἠδύνατο γὰρ τοῦτο τὸ μύρον πραθῆναι ἐπάνω δηναρίων τριακοσίων καὶ δοθῆναι τοῖς πτωχοῖς· καὶ ἐνεβριμῶντο αὐτῇ.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:9, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:4-6, where Judas Iscariot complained about wasting money, but John then made other derogatory remarks about Judas.  Mark said here that these unnamed disciples said that this was a waste of this precious “oil (μύρον)” that could have been sold for a large sum (ἠδύνατο γὰρ τοῦτο τὸ μύρον πραθῆναι), more than 300 denarii (ἐπάνω δηναρίων τριακοσίων), worth about $450.00 US.  This must have been a very expensive small jar of nard oil imported from the Indian Himalayan mountains.  They complained that this large sum of money could have been given to the poor (καὶ δοθῆναι τοῖς πτωχοῖς).  Giving to the poor at the time of Passover was a common custom.  Thus, these disciples angrily scolded her (καὶ ἐνεβριμῶντο αὐτῇ).

A description of his illness (Mk 9:18-9:18)

“Whenever it seizes him,

It dashes him down.

He foams.

He grinds his teeth.

He becomes rigid,

Wasting away.”

 

καὶ ὅπου ἐὰν αὐτὸν καταλάβῃ, ῥήσσει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀφρίζει καὶ τρίζει τοὺς ὀδόντας καὶ ξηραίνεται·

 

The story of the man with the incurable son can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:15, Luke, chapter 9:39, and here in Mark, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Apparently, this son was an epileptic, who was often considered to be possessed by the devil.  Even today, we are still unsure of the exact cause of epilepsy seizures.  This description of the young man’s suffering differed from Matthew who had the child suffer very badly, falling into fire and water.  Luke had a description similar to Mark.  However, this was a very descriptive narrative of what was happening to this young man.  Mark said that whenever the spirit seized him (καὶ ὅπου ἐὰν αὐτὸν καταλάβῃ), it dashed or threw him down (ῥήσσει αὐτόν).  This young boy would foam (καὶ ἀφρίζει) at the mouth.  He would grind or gnash his teeth (αὶ τρίζει τοὺς ὀδόντας).  He would become rigid as he was wasting or withering away (καὶ ξηραίνεται).

The third curse against their towns (Hab 2:12-2:14)

“Woe to you!

You build a town

By bloodshed!

You found a city

On iniquity!

Is it not from Yahweh of hosts

That people labor,

Only to feed the flames?

Do nations weary themselves

For nothing?

The earth will be filled

With the knowledge

Of the glory of Yahweh,

As the waters cover the sea.”

Habakkuk issued his 3rd woe or curse against the Chaldeans, because they built their towns with bloodshed and founded their cities on iniquity.  They forced the people into building their cities with free labor.  However, the flames of a fire would come to destroy them.  They were wasting their time, because these towns and cities would not last.  The end result was that the earth would be filled with the knowledge and glory of Yahweh, just as water covered the sea.