Christian life: context

“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:27-38) Continue reading

On the plain: sermon

This passage is the introduction to a new major section of the book of Luke (6:17-9:50). While previous passages have dealt with the early ministries of John the Baptizer and Jesus, and have only referred to the teachings of Jesus, here for the first time the actual content of his teaching to the crowds is presented. Also, for the first time, teachings are addressed directly to Jesus’ disciples. There has been a steady progression within Luke from a focus on God’s work in the world in Jesus (the infancy narratives, chs. 1-2), to the preparation for Jesus’ ministry by John the Baptizer (3:1-20), to Jesus himself and his own preparation for ministry (3:21-4:13). Then Luke begins to highlight how Jesus and his teachings were received, beginning with the hometown folks in Nazareth (4:14-30) and concluding with the choosing of the twelve, who were among those who responded by leaving everything to follow him (6:12-16). In this section, Luke begins expanding that dimension of response by focusing on Jesus’ teaching related to the “ethics of the Kingdom,” the responsibilities and consequences of being disciples. Luke continues this focus on discipleship until the journey toward Jerusalem begins (9:51), where it takes on a slightly different tone. Continue reading

On the plain: blessing and woes

At this point in his narrative, Luke incorporates part of the same material that Matthew had included in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7). But instead of staying on the mountain to deliver his discourse, Jesus comes down from the mountain like Moses descending to deliver the law to the people (Exod 34:15). As before, people crowd around him to hear the word of God and to be healed (5:1, 15).

And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way. Continue reading

On the plain: more context

And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon  came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured.

As you have already considered, this Lucan passage is very similar to Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” – the beginning part referred to as the Beatitudes. Both versions are (and will, no doubt, continue to be) the source of much scholarly inquiry and debate. Some ask whether this is a single-setting sermon or if this is a compilation of Jesus’ sayings arranged in a “sermon.” As we have been doing throughout our study of Luke, it is helpful to compare Luke with the parallel passages in Matthew to help understand Luke’s concerns here (there are no parallels in Mark or John, although some of the same sayings are found scattered throughout the books). While questions about origin, sources, and redaction of the text are certainly valid and interesting, it will probably be sufficient here simply to acknowledge the fact that Luke and Matthew differ in how they have constructed these sermons. Continue reading

On the plain: context

And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured.  Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all. And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.  But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.  Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way. Continue reading

Fishing: reaction

Fishers-of-men-iconThe Reaction. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” 9 For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon.

The focus of these verses is on Simon, now called Simon Peter for the first time in Luke’s gospel – even James, John, and the unmentioned Andrew, are referred as partners of Simon. It is here that Luke calls Simon as Peter for the first time, “the Rock,” the name he will later have as the leader of the church. His eyes are opened through his act of faith, and he falls before Jesus. Peter is the first person in the public ministry to call Jesus “Lord” (no longer only “Master”: v. 5). Suddenly we realize that the story has been more than the initial calling of the fishermen disciples. From earliest times the church has seen herself as the “bark of Peter” in which faith in Jesus is tested (Mark 4:35–41; Matt 8:23–27). Jesus chooses Simon’s boat, sending him into deep water and calling for a decision based solely on personal faith. The faith of Simon’s response is what makes him the rock on which the church is built (Matt 16:18). Continue reading

Fishing: the Word

Fishers-of-men-iconThe account begins with a wide-angle view: the press of the crowd leading to Jesus’ teaching in a natural amphitheater from a boat on the lake. Quickly, however, events on the boat move to the forefront and the crowd disappears completely from view. The important interaction here is between Jesus and Peter, who represent the ones who respond positively to Jesus. Continue reading

Fishing: crowds

Fishers-of-men-iconWriting with Intent. Christian tradition and popular biblical opinion is the St. Luke was a physician. I occupy the minority camp on that matter. There have been lots of studies comparing his writing and language to know physicians of his age. There is nothing about this Gospel (or Acts of the Apostles) that points to a physician. But as many have pointed out, there are lots that points to another occupation: rhetorical historian (and yes, he could have been both…). As the rhetorical historian, he writes with a purpose and intent. Green [230] writes: “Within his overall narrative strategy, the initial purpose of this episode is to secure for Luke’s audience the nature of appropriate response to the ministry of Jesus. Simon’s obedience and declaration of his sinfulness, and especially the final note that Simon, James, and John “left everything and followed” contrast both with the earlier “amazement” of the crowds and with the questions and opposition characteristic of the Pharisees and teachers of the law in the later episodes of this chapter. His further statement, “Go away from me, Lord,” contrasts even more sharply with attempts by people at Nazareth and Capernaum, as it were, to keep Jesus to themselves.” Continue reading

Fishing: context

Fishers-of-men-icon1 While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” 9 For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, 10 and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. Continue reading