Gospel of Luke 08 (ch. 17, 18, 19)


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

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

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

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).



As Jesus draws closer and closer to Jerusalem his teachings and tone grow increasingly  urgent and stronger.  He focuses on the costs of discipleship – knowing that his own discipleship and obedience to the Father involves going to certain death.

Chapter 17


Johnson p. 258: “In the theme of forgiveness, Luke is entirely within the framework of Jewish piety, for which the forgiveness offered by God to those who repent is endless, and demands similar forgiveness of the neighbor; for the combination of reproof and forgiveness (as well)”

Faith / mustard seed

A continuation from the disciples failure to exorcise the demon in the boy back in Chapter 9???  It would seem unlikely but the apostles  have not been mentioned since then! (Johnson p. 259)

Attitude of a Servant

This saying only appears in Luke.  Johnson p. 259: “The point is not good manners, but social obligation and expectation.   The structure of the Greek question demands the answer “no,” and the translation makes that explicit.”  i.e. – he is not grateful, does not say “thanks”.

Generally slaves were considered interchangeable and entirely dispensable – much like minimum wage workers today.  BUT – there were always exceptions, as with slaves entrusted with running whole businesses, households, etc.


Cleansing of 10 lepers

Numbers 5:1-4

The LORD said to Moses:  Order the Israelites to expel from camp everyone with a scaly infection, and everyone suffering from a discharge, and everyone who has become unclean by contact with a corpse.    Male and female alike, you shall expel them. You shall expel them from the camp so that they do not defile their camp, where I dwell in their midst.  This the Israelites did, expelling them from the camp; just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did.

Leviticus 13: 45,46

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.

Johnson p. 260: “Like the hero of the parable in 10:33, the Samaritan gives a positive example, this time of faith rather than love.  The shock is that it is given by one regarded as an ‘outcast,’ only marginally part of ‘Israel.’”


Johnson p. 261: “The community of the poor (early church) can easily see itself as pure victim.  But the saying on scandal and repentance turn the ethical demand on this community as well.  Even in the kingdom there is opportunity for scandal and the need for repentance and forgiveness.  The demand placed by Jesus on his followers is that they are themselves responsible for both; they cannot plead innocence because they are oppressed by others.  If they cause scandal, they will be punished for it.  If they are sinned against, they must forgive.”

With regard to healing the Samaritan – Johnson p. 262 “The story points back to the instructions to the disciples: they were all as outcast as the Samaritan; they were all forgiven, cleansed, healed.  They cannot assume another status that that of those who are gifted.  They are not to expect thanks, but rather are to give thanks to the one who has saved them.”


Coming of the Kingdom 

First Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees and then to the disciples.

The signs of the Kingdom are not difficult to read (the blind see, the poor hear good news etc.) – but the Pharisees refuse to see them.  (Luke has specifically noted that the Pharisees have been keeping a close eye on Jesus – not to see signs of the Kingdom but to find ways to accuse him.)  The Kingdom has begun with the ministry of Jesus, continues with the ministry of the early church, and will come in its fullness with Jesus and the second coming.

Day of the Son of Man

The fullness of the Kingdom is not yet here.  When those days come there will be majestic and frightening and obvious  signs.  These are apocalyptic in nature, were quite in the mainstream of Jesus’ time (100 years before to 100 years after were the heyday of apocalyptic).

It will still catch people off guard – their busyness in the daily grind, oriented to the things of this world – will blind them (as the Pharisees are blind now to the presence of the Kingdom in Jesus).  And it will come suddenly – that is sort of the point.

Johnson p. 267: “The question of ‘when’ the kingdom will come is therefore entirely inappropriate.  For Luke, the call of God, the visitation of God, is constant for every life, as close as death itself.  The point is not chronology, but conversion.  Those who would obey god must travel with sufficient lightness to be able to respond.  The final question of the disciples, ‘where Lord?’ is almost as obtuse, for the kingdom of God is not a place, but a rule.  Jesus’ answer is therefore parabolic but precise.  Vultures gather wherever there is carrion.  The kingdom is wherever the people are gathered by God’s word.”

Chapter 18

Parable of Persistent Widow

Over the course of Luke / Acts there are about 20 references or stories of Jesus and / or the disciples engaged in prayer.

Johnson  p. 269: “Doing justice for widows becomes shorthand for covenantal loyalty among the prophets.”  It was written into the law in multiple places, widows and orphans were particularly vulnerable in those times.  They GOT justice only when judges and others were mindful of the covenant and of God.

Sirach 35: 15-22

Do not trust in sacrifice of the fruits of extortion,

For he is a God of justice, who shows no partiality.

He shows no partiality to the weak but hears the grievance of the oppressed.

He does not forsake the cry of the orphan, nor the widow when she pours out her complaint.

Do not the tears that stream down her cheek cry out against the one that causes them to fall?

Those who serve God to please him are accepted; their petition reaches the clouds.

The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal;

Nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right.



Parable of Pharisee and Tax Collector

The temple was primarily a place of sacrifice and the center of the three great pilgrimage festivals each year.  However, because it was believed that God Himself was present in the Holy of Holies – people did come to the Temple to pray.  They could not get close to the Holy of Holies but might stand in the courtyards.

Here again comes the “great reversal’ – the last will be first, the first last.

Rabbinic tradition was NOT generally approving toward going beyond the given Law.  If the Law said to fast on this day, then do it.  If the Law said to tithe on your income, then do it.  But DON’T go beyond the Law to fast on other days or to give more than the required tithe.  Who are YOU to decide that God’s wisdom and God’s Law is not enough????   In the development of rabbinic Judaism the assumed position of the Pharisees at the time of Jesus must have lost out – they are presented as fasting “frequently”.   In the later Christian tradition (post 400AD) fasting and asceticism in general became an important part of the Christian tradition – ROLE REVERSAL?????

Children and Kingdom of God

Blessings from elders and “holy” persons were part of the regular routine in this time and culture.

Children were useless and dependent in the mindset of the day.  The least of the least.

Johnson p. 276: “…it is more likely that he means that the kingdom is like a child whom one must accept.”   I have never heard this explanation but the text does seem to support it!

Rich Official  & Riches

Johnson p. 277: “By telling this ruler to ‘give to the poor everything you own,’ Jesus invites him to a fundamental reversal of his own status.  It is a conversion call even more radical than that addressed to the Pharisees, that they should invite the poor to their banquets.  This is a call to discipleship, which demands giving up all one’s possessions.  For Luke, this is fundamental, rather than a mark of ‘perfection’ as in Matthew 19:21.”

Johnson p. 281: “The kingdom proclaimed by Jesus is entirely about the power of God at work to heal and liberate and empower, not about humans accomplishing things for themselves.  The point of the rich man’s disposal of his property was not another ‘good work’ or observance of Torah, but precisely to abandon all possessions in order to receive the good news as one who was poor.”

Johnson p. 278: “The camel is a real camel, the needle a real needle.  It is meant to be impossible, otherwise the following statement (about what is ‘possible’) would have no point.”   The preaching point about some “needle gate” is modern invention.  The whole point is that Jesus is telling us that God saves us, we are utterly dependent upon that.


Healing the Blind Beggar

Bartimaeus in the other gospels.  Note that he asks to see – after several chapters of the Pharisees refusing to see the Kingdom and signs and Jesus’ work.

Johnson p. 283: ‘The blind man is obviously one o f the poor and therefore one of the outcast of the people.  In both Mark and Luke the story provides a contrast to the rich ruler (official).  Begging was as much a cause of shame in that world as in our own, as shown by the reflection of the dishonest manager ‘I am ashamed to beg.’ “

Those who truly ‘see’ Jesus follow him.

Chapter 19


This story is only in the Gospel of Luke.

Note that this tax collector / sinner is trying / seeking to see Jesus.  The Pharisees refuse to see.  The blind man asks to see.  All of these stories have been put together with an underlying theme.  At the same time Jesus is seeking out the lost and the blind and the sinner and the outcast to include them in God’s kingdom.

Zaccheus pledges to repay anything extorted “fourfold”.  Exodus 21:37: 37  “When someone steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for the one ox, and four sheep for the one sheep.”    It goes well beyond restitution – something more appropriate for accidents, misunderstanding etc.

Johnson p. 287: “Luke reminds his readers once again that the disposition of the heart is symbolized by the disposition of possessions.  The one who clings to his wealth is equally  closed to the prophet’s call.  The one who shares generously with the poor can welcome the prophet gladly.”

Parable of 10 Gold Coins

This is a rather harsh but telling story that reflects life in ancient times.  Herod is said, by Josephus, to have murdered 45 rivals once he had been named king.

Reading the story carefully we see that each servant was given ONE coin.  They are able to turn it into more on a sliding scale.  The coin was a lot of money – but not an enormous amount.  That one servant turns one into ten is quite an achievement.

Johnson p. 290: The process seems to have been a little like the tax collector situation in which a job in the Roman empire is put up for sale / bid  or appointment.  This person wishes to be given rule over a territory – others dislike him or envy him and try to undermine his effort.

Johnson p. 292: “…the reward for those reliable is a place in the rule of the kingdom; the slave who did not perform financially is not punished (as in Matthew) but only excluded from ruling power.”   No real timeframe is established in Luke but is presumably fairly quickly accomplished.

Johnson p. 293: an allegory.  Jesus goes to God to become King, the Pharisees oppose his rule, faithful disciples are rewarded, those who opposed are punished. EXCEPT – not so much at the end of time but immediately!  Jesus is to be proclaimed …

Entry into Jerusalem

No waving of palms in Luke.  However, Jesus gets the “royal” treatment with the cloaks on the ground.

The story about the ass is to fulfill a prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, 10:

Exult greatly, O daughter Zion!  Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!

Behold: your king  is coming to you, a just savior is he,

Humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem;

The warrior’s bow will be banished, and he will proclaim peace to the nations.

His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River  to the ends of the earth.


Johnson p. 298 – the Pharisees object to Jesus being proclaimed as king (establishing their opposition to his kingship) and tell him to rebuke his followers – fulfilling the parable before!


Lament for Jerusalem

Luke was written in the general time period of 70AD – when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed.  The rebellion began in 68 and was doomed from the start.  But dates for the gospels do vary.  Almost all concede that Mark was first and preceded the destruction of the Temple.  Almost all scholars recognize Matthew and Luke as independent of each other and from similar times.  And almost all put John significantly later (mid to late 90’s).  In the end the texts we have now do not clearly tell us: Luke written before rebellion?  During it?  Or after it?

Cleansing of the Temple

The offering of animal sacrifices was the central purpose of the temple.  Without animals to purchase for  sacrifice (and money changers to change money for pilgrims from around the world0  the whole operation would have come to a halt.

Johnson p. 300: “According to (Mishnah) there were thirteen tables in the Temple and thirteen chests for funds.  The Qumran sect, in contrast, took offense at such financial dealing, calling it a profanation of the Temple.”


Comments are closed.