Gospel of Luke 03 (ch. 5, 6)


Bailey, Kenneth E..  The Cross & the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants, second edition.  (IVP Books, Downers Grove IL, 2005).

————————-  Finding the Lost Cultural Keys to Luke 15.  (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis MO, 1992).

————————-  Jacob and the Prodigal: How Jesus Retold Israel’s Story.  (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2003).

Byrne, Brendan.  The Hospitality of God: a Reading of Luke’s Gospel.  (Liturgical Press, 2000 , Collegeville MN).

Craddock, Fred B.  Luke.  Part of Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching edited by James L. Mays.   (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1990).


Culy, Martin M., Mikeal C. Parsons, and Joshua J. Stigall.  Luke: A Handbook on the Greek Text.  (Baylor University Press, 2010, Waco TX).


Fitzmyer, Joseph A.  The Gospel According to Luke I – IX.  A New translation with Introduction and commentary.  Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary Series edited by W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 1970).


————————–  The Gospel According to Luke X – XXIV.  A New translation with Introduction and commentary.  Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary Series edited by W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 1985).


Gillman, John.  Luke: Stories of Joy and Salvation.  Part of the Spiritual Commentaries on the Bible series edited by Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan.  (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2002).


Gonzalez, Justo L.  Luke.  Part of the Belief: A theological commentary on the Bible series, Amy Plantinga Pauw and William C. Placher General Editors.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2010).


Hendrickx, Herman.  The Third Gospel for the Third World.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1997).

  • Volume One – Luke 1:1-2:52
  • Volume Two – A  Luke 3:1-6:49
  • Volume Two – B  Luke 7:1-9:50
  • Volume Three – A  Luke 9:51-13:21
  • Volume Three – B  Luke 13:22-17:10
  • Volume Three-C  Luke 17:11-19:44
  • Volume Four  – A  Luke 19:45-21:38


Johnson, Luke Timothy.  The Gospel of Luke.  Part of the Sacra Pagina biblical commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J..  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1991).

Levine, Amy-Jill and Marc Zvi Brettler editors.  The Jewish Annotated New Testament / New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation.  (Oxford University Press, New York, 2011).

Marshall, I. Howard.  The Gospel of Luke.  Part of the New International Greek Testament Commentary (NIGTC) series edited by I. Howard Marshall and Donald A. Hagner.  (Eerdmans, 1978, Grand Rapids MI)

McKenna, Megan.  Luke: The Book of Blessings and Woes.  (New City Press, Hyde Park NY, 2009).

Patella, Michael F..  The Gospel According to Luke.  Part of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary edited by Daniel Durken O.S.B.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 2005).

Walker, Thomas W..  Luke.  Part of the Interpretation Bible Studies series .  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2001).



Chapter 5

The Call of Simon

Lake of Gennesaret = Sea of Galilee.  The area around the lake is the Genasaur Valley.  In the OT also called Kinneret and Chinnereth.

Byrne p. 56: by the 70’s when the gospel was written a boat was the dominant image of the church.  That Jesus teaches from Peter’s boat signals a deep connection being established between Jesus, Peter, and the future church.  The quantity of fish foretells the success of the mission to the Gentiles / ends of the earth.

We have, over our history, perhaps lost a sense of amazement at the reality that the apostles who followed Jesus and led our church in its initial decades were fisherman and laborers and tax collectors.

Fishing was not done at night so much as in the very early morning hours before dawn.

Cleansing a Leper

Jesus touches the leper in the act of curing him.  In Mosaic Law the uncleanness would flow from the afflicted person to the one touching him – here, however, the flow goes the other way and the man is cleansed and purified by Jesus.   BUT, Jesus then tells him to fulfill the requirements of the Law – show himself to the priests at the temple to be declared clean and able to re-enter society.

A contrary point of view is offered by  Levine et al p. 110: “… contrary to many homiletic appropriations, no Jewish law forbids touching a person with leprosy.”  Technically this is true – if one does so, however, one is made ritually unclean and must wash etc. before offering prayers or taking part in Jewish ritual.  Hence Leviticus 13:45,46 says:

“The garments of one afflicted with a scaly infection shall be rent and the hair disheveled, and the mustache covered.  The individual shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!”  As long as the infection is present, the person shall be unclean. Being unclean, that individual shall dwell apart, taking up residence outside the camp.”

Healing of Paralytic

Here is how we maintain the humanity of Jesus through his life on earth: “the power of the LORD was with him for healing”.

Lowered through the tiles – not a thatch roof.  Palestine had thatch and mud roofs, the Greco-Roman world of the Gentiles knew roofs of tile.  Luke adapts the inherited story for his readers.

Byrne p. 59: “They “carry” the paralyzed man as much by their faith as by their physical strength, and this little community of faith creates the context for healing.”

The Pharisees make their first appearance – controversy will begin to build.

The connection between illness / suffering and sinfulness is troubling.  At other points in the gospels Jesus rejects the idea that there is some necessary connection between them.  One has the sense that in this story Jesus is simply looking for an opportunity to forgive sins and to stir up the Pharisees and the opposition.  Byrne p. 60 suggests that the man simply had two distinct issues (a need for healing in both body and in relationship to God / community) and that Jesus made a cure of one a sign of his authority to cure in both.

Byrne p. 60: “Jesus has struck a blow for the total healing of human beings.  Bodily healing and spiritual healing go together.  The paralyzed man and his associates had to break through a physical barrier to get the one (physical healing).  Jesus had to confront a more resistant barrier (the “thoughts” of the religious authorities) to communicate the other (forgiveness).  In both areas, faith created the essential context for the outreach of the hospitality of God.”

Call of Levi

Tax collectors were independent contractors to the Romans.  They bought the right to collect taxes in an area and then collected them at some profit for themselves.  They were known to extort more than was owed – especially from the weak.  Those who were Jewish were particularly despised – both for their collaboration with the Roman occupiers and for the injustices they perpetrated.

Levine p. 522:

“Jesus and his disciples adhered to these food restrictions. … In these passages, Jesus does not reject the dietary laws of the Torah but rather the more stringent Pharisaic requirement that food be consumed in a ritually pure fashion.  Jesus contests other food practices associated with Jewish sectarians as well, such as the refusal to eat with non-sectarians and the frequent observance of fasting but these stances in no way indicate ambivalence toward dietary laws found in the Torah.”

That Jesus talked to and called a tax collector, then ate his home was a great scandal to the “religious authorities”.  The Pharisee movement was in full opposition to the Temple authorities (priests) and the Sadducees precisely for their corruption by association with the Romans.

Byrne p. 60: “Repentance is certainly required (v. 32).  But repentance is not a precondition for God’s acceptance.  Rather, it is something that a sense of God’s acceptance makes possible, joy-filled and transformative in human lives.”   THIS IS SOMETHING WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT !

Fasting / parable of wineskins

The “messianic banquet” in OT and NT tradition is often associated with a wedding feast (numerous parables).  So fasting in the presence of the Messiah is not appropriate behavior.

  • Church tradition often excuses us from fasting on Sundays (celebrating the resurrection)
  • Advice columnists also suggest to those on “diets” not to impose their issues and limits when attending wedding receptions

Byrne p. 61: “A humorous touch at the end states the problem Luke sees Jesus facing.  Just as old wine is preferred to new, people – good religious people – are slow to surrender long-treasured expectations.  Like the wine buff they say: “the old is good”.”

Chapter 6

Debates about the Sabbath (grain, cure)

Strict observance of the Sabbath was a distinguishing feature of Jewish culture and faith.

Exodus 31:12-17

The LORD said to Moses: You must also tell the Israelites: Keep my sabbaths, for that is to be the sign between you and me throughout the generations, to show that it is I, the LORD, who make you holy.  Therefore, you must keep the sabbath for it is holiness for you. Whoever desecrates it shall be put to death. If anyone does work on that day, that person must be cut off from the people. Six days there are for doing work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD. Anyone who does work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. So shall the Israelites observe the sabbath, keeping it throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. Between me and the Israelites it is to be an everlasting sign; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested at his ease.

So, what is “work”????  Later rabbis and tradition deduced, due to proximity of this command to instruction on how to build the tent of meeting, that any sort of activity found in those instructions were “work”.  They came up with 39 categories.  There are also specific commands elsewhere – do not build a fire on the Sabbath.  (Hence Sabbath elevators, prohibition on driving, taking photos – all use electricity / fire.)

In the time of Jesus many of the specifics of what was “work” were still being debated.  There was not yet a compiled set of agreed upon limits.  And always, in the tradition and in the scriptures, there were exceptions – helping a neighbor get his ox / cow out of a ditch etc.

Mission of the 12

Jesus chose the 12 from among the larger circle of followers after a night of prayer.  They represent the 12 tribes that followed Moses out of Egypt – the fullness of Israel at its peak.

Jesus names them “apostles” – ones who are “sent”.

Ministering to a Great Multitude

Byrne p. 64: notice that the sermon which follows is addressed to the following groups in sort of concentric circles around Jesus:

  • Jesus
  • The 12, the apostles
  • Remaining disciples / followers
  • Crowds from Judea, Jerusalem, Tyre, and Sidon (drawn by the controversy, the healings etc.).  Judea and Jerusalem were Jews / Tyre and Sidon were pagan.

Sermon on the Plain

Matthew has 9 beatitudes, Luke has 4 (plus four “woes”)

Byrne p. 65: “In the biblical tradition “blessed” does not, strictly speaking, indicate a moral attitude to be adopted.  The formula declares a person to be in a fortunate or advantageous position in view of a coming action of God.  It really amounts to “Congratulations” – the sort of thing one might say to a friend who has won the lottery.”

SO – there is a very sharp contrast between what one might expect to be congratulated on and what Jesus does in these sayings.  The Jewish listeners especially would not have expected these.  Nor would most of us.

The beatitudes are based on a key theme of Jesus: the last will be first and the first will be last in the Kingdom of God.  Byrne p. 65: “The prospect of this reversal makes it better to be poor, hungry, weeping, and reviled rather than rich, full, laughing, and well spoken of.  So imminent and so certain is the reversal that the t6hought of it overcomes the painfulness of the present.”


Love of enemies

Respond to injury and hurt inflicted by others with love and compassion and forgiveness.  Byrne p. 67: “He is not laying down maxims to be followed literally.  Rather, he is seeking to inculcate a fundamental attitude according to which one would be prepared to be vulnerable to a degree foolish by the standards of the world, because such vulnerability and generosity is what one both discerns in God and experiences from God.”

Judging Others

The point – we do not know what is in the heart or the situation of others – so don’t judge them.  Remember that God is merciful.  In both Jewish and Christian tradition we note that God is BOTH merciful and just.  In Jewish tradition – God’s mercy engulfs God’s justice.

Tree / Fruit and 2 Foundations

The reversal is coming.  Put these words into action now, become vulnerable and sympathize with the vulnerable.

Pirke Avot 3:23   Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah used to say: Anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, to what is he likened? – to a tree whose branches are numerous but whose roots are few; then the wind comes and uproots it and turns it upside down.  But one whose good deeds exceed his wisdom, to what is he likened? – to a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are numerous; even if all the winds in the world were to come and blow against it, they could not budge it from its place.”

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