This Week’s Gospel Readings: Luke 16:19 – 21:38
We are nearing the end of the Gospel of Luke. We’re moving fast because the Torah reading schedule has been doubled (and we read the Gospels on pace with Torah). Luke’s portrait of Yeshua is beginning to take a turn, from healer/teacher to suffering Messiah and then divine Messiah.
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A Few Highlights from the Greek and the Commentary
Luke 16:22 — apanexthaenai auton hupō tōn angelōn eis ton Kolon Abra’am, ἀπενεχθῆναι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγγέλων εἰς τὸν κόλπον Ἀβραάμ, “he was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side [bosom].” At ancient Jewish sacred meals, such as Passover, the guests reclined on cushions and the place of honor was to recline directly in front of the master of the feast. As in a Greco-Roman symposium (banquet), the place of honor is to recline next to the head of the banquet, so Lazarus is pictured as reclining next to Abraham. See Matt 8:11 for the “table of Abraham”. See Luke 13:28 for the idea of people seeing the patriarchs in the kingdom.
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Luke 17:16 — epesen epi prosōpon para tous podas autos eucharistōn, ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον παρὰ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστῶν, “he fell on his face at the feet of him and gave thanks.” Although the characters in the Gospels do not know that Yeshua is actually divine, they do know that he wields a power beyond any they’ve ever seen or heard of. They are shown in a number of teens bowing and offering respect, thanks, and even worship to him. Of course, people would act this way toward any person in power to whom they wished to show reverence. This kind of reverence and bowing was not abnormal for relationships with rulers on earth, but nonetheless, these scenes are a hint of something more. After Messiah ascended it became clear that he was divine and that he occupied a throne on God’s right hand side. The early believers worshipped him in ways reserved for God alone. Therefore, scenes like this one, in which a leper bowed and gave thanks (offered “eucharist”) to Yeshua, became type scenes for worship.
Luke 18:35-19:10 — These two stories also juxtapose with two of Yeshua’s powerful teachings. As Luke Johnson observes, Bartimaeus illustrates the faith like a child from 18:16-17, while Zaccheus shows the beautiful alternative to the rich young ruler of 18:18-27. Simple faith brings a miracle with Bartimaeus. The desire for absolution through repentance transforms a man’s life with Zaccheus. Bartimaeus is helpless and open to the kingdom blessings. Zaccheus is rich like the rich ruler, but different from him in two ways: rather than being a righteous person, he has been a sinner, and rather than being self-righteous, he is sorrowful. “Let the children come to me,” said Yeshua, and “to such belongs the kingdom of God” (18:16). So the blind man simply believes Yeshua is the Son of David and asks for mercy. There is no questioning. His faith is absolute. “All these [laws of Torah] I have kept from my youth,” said the rich ruler (18:21). That may have been the truth, but there was no sense of contrition, no longing to be elevated and purified. The rich ruler’s righteousness was his stumbling block, whereas Zaccheus’s certainty that he did not deserve absolution was true repentance. He longed for acceptance from heaven and change in his ways. He reached out desperately for a hand up from God and through Yeshua, God’s agent on earth, Zaccheus received the affirmation and permission his soul needed to accept himself and believe in his new identity as a reinstated son of Abraham. Yeshua commends to us absolute faith and pure contrition. This simple formula keeps us humble and at the same time hopeful.
Luke 19:42 — hoti ei egnōs en tae haemera taut kai su ta pros eiraenaen, ὅτι εἰ ἔγνως ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ταύτῃ καὶ σὺ τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην, “if you had known, even you, this day, the things that make for peace!” Yeshua isn’t talking here about a peaceful afterlife, but literal peace. He came as a prophet to his own generation, a sort of Jeremiah and an Elijah-like figure. He was God’s agent offering to bring the nation into agreement with God’s reign and rule. Like Elijah and Jeremiah before him, his message fell on deaf ears. The coming war with Rome would be horrific. Yeshua set his face to Jerusalem to experience personally the suffering that would soon fall on his generation. His violent death was a vicarious suffering for Israel (and it was also more than that). The mystery of Yeshua’s identity was about to unravel. The enigma would start to become clear in what happened after Yeshua’s death.
Outlines of the Week, Luke 16:19 – 21:28
LUKE 16:19-31 Lazarus and the rich man.
LUKE 17:1-10 On causing scandal and stumbling (1-2), on forgiveness (3-4), on having faith (5-6), on being dutiful servants (7-10).
LUKE 17:11-19 Ten lepers (11-19).
LUKE 17:20-37 Timing of the kingdom (20-21), Son of Man (22-25), days of the Son of Man (26-37).
LUKE 18:1-14 The persistent widow and the unjust judge (1-8), the tax collector and the Pharisee (9-14).
LUKE 18:15-34 Infants epitomize the kingdom (15-17), a rich ruler who epitomizes those that miss the kingdom (18-27), those who leave all to follow and inherit the kingdom (28-30), the disciples do not grasp suffering as messianic (31-34).
LUKE 18:35 – 19:10 The blind man at Jericho (18:35-43), Zacchaeus (19:1-10).
LUKE 19:11-27 Introduction: they thought the kingdom would suddenly appear (11), the Parable of the King and the Minas (12-27).
LUKE 19:28-48 Obtaining a donkey (28-35), Yeshua’s entry into Jerusalem with messianic acclaim (36-38), some Pharisees protest (39), Yeshua affirms his messianic identity (40), Yeshua weeps over Jerusalem (41-44), Yeshua cleanses the Temple (45-48).
LUKE 20:1-19 Yeshua’s authority questioned (1-8), Parable of the Vineyard (9-16), the rejected cornerstone (17-18), leaders seek to arrest Yeshua (19).
LUKE 20:20-40 Plots to trap Yeshua (20), question about taxes to Caesar (21-26), question about marriage in the life to come (27-40).
LUKE 20:41 -21:4 (Continued from 20:20, plots to trap Yeshua): Yeshua challenges the messianic theology of the scribes (41-44), Yeshua warns against the pride of the leaders (45-47), the widow’s mite (21:1-4).
LUKE 21:5-24 Yeshua foretells the Temple destruction (5-6), signs of nearness (7-11), warnings of persecution of Yeshua-followers (12-19), the terror of the Temple destruction (20-24).
LUKE 21:25-38 Signs of the coming of the Son of Man (25-33), readiness for the Son of Man’s coming (34-36), Yeshua’s itinerary teaching in the Temple (37-38).
Commentary Links of the Week
More About The Weekly Gospel
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I plan to post weekly summaries here on DerekLeman.com on Tuesdays. You will find outlines of the readings for the previous seven days, links to my full online commentary, and more. I hope this makes it easier for people to engage more with the Bible and follow a consistent reading plan. See more about reading the Bible here.