Wednesday, February 4, 2015

NT: Luke 13-20

I’m going to skim lightly over Luke chapters 13 through 20 because of how they don’t seem (personally) to advance the Jesus story as crisply as prior chapters do. For instance, Luke 13-16 contain at least 11 pericopes that are found in no other Gospel. Since my goal for these foundational posts on the Gospels is to broadly outline their content (and purposely defer analysis and criticism until much later), this cluster of chapters appears to be one that I can tour at one sitting.

Recall that Luke 12 concludes with Jesus speaking in parabolic, oblique terms:

Luke 12:58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, [as thou art] in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.
59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.

Luke Chapter 13 then seems to switch gears dramatically with a reference to Pilate and sacrifice:

Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

This seems out-of-place, as if the author felt it just had to be said, but couldn’t find a home for it.

He then goes on to speak the “Parable of the Barren Fig Tree” and “The Healing of the Crippled Woman on the Sabbath” - neither of which have parallels elsewhere in the Gospels. There are teachings and parables through Chapter 16, of which half are paralleled in other Gospels, although in increasingly disordered fashion. As always, refer to the Gospel Parallels if you’re interested in the relationship of Luke’s words to other books. I found this stretch slightly tedious. The story of the rich man and Lazarus is a unique exception to the tedium, with the implication that those who suffer in this life get their reward in the next one.

Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

In Chapter 17, Jesus wraps up his teaching and makes his way to Jerusalem. In route, he heals ten lepers, then makes pronouncements that foreshadow the Second Coming

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.
33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two [men] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

Luke Chapter 18 brings us parables and some more tips on reaching the Kingdom of God. We also find Jesus foretelling of his crucifixion

Luke 18:31 Then he took [unto him] the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
33 And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

...followed by Jesus restoring the sight of one of the faithful.

I notice (for the first time???) how Jesus is referred to as “Lord” in this chapter. It’s a clear indication that by the time the Gospel of Luke was written, Jesus’ divinity is well established in the mind of the author. Maybe this has been the case all along for the other two Gospels, but it struck me as comment-worthy today.

Chapter 19 is where the action picks up again. Jesus passes through Jericho, where he meets Zacchaeus and we’re treated to The Parable of the Pounds. By mid-chapter, Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Luke 19:47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,
48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.

Chapter 20 consists mainly of Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees and elders on his authority, with much parable and many teachings, but no arrests yet.


Here’s what the other Gospels look like from Luke’s perspective: from chapter 13 through the middle of 18, the pericopes in Luke are either unique, or are paralleled in a different order in the two other Synoptic Gospels. From that point to the end of chapter 20, Luke appears to unfold in the same order as Matthew and Mark. Accordingly, you *might* think that these passages (Luke 18:15 through 20:47) bear more weight than the prior ones. It may just be a narrative necessity, since the crucifixion is imminent.

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