Epistles of Thomas

October 6, 2008

Luke 16-18

Filed under: New Testament — Thomas @ 14:30
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In Luke 16:16-17 we have two context-less statements that at first glance seem contradictory. Until John, the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed but since that time the good news of the Kingdom of God is being preached. This would seem to indicate a contrast between the time of Law and the time of the Kingdom. Then it says that it is easier for everything to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. This is immediately followed by the example of the law against adultery. Then a fuller explanation is provided in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This concludes with the statement that if people do not listen to Moses and the Prophets they will not listen even if someone rises from the dead. Living on this side of Jesus’ resurrection we understand the full implications of this statement. This seeming contradiction points to there being a different emphasis on what it means to be the people of God. Previously, people were defined by the Law and the Prophets, which was proclaimed. Now the KoG has arrived and its proclamation is taking place. It does not replace the Law, e.g. adultery is still a sin, but the focus is on defining the people of God through their membership in the KoG. Let’s read the rest of this book carefully in order to understand what this means.

The story in 17:7-10 does not relate to most of us because we do not have servants and certainly do not think we serve anyone (Bob Dylan aside;-). How does this example illustrate his point and how does it speak to us?

Notice that once again Jesus makes a Samaritan the hero in the story of the ten lepers (17:11-19). The Samaritan is the only one who returns to thank Jesus for healing him. We don’t know the ethnicity of the other nine but clearly he is making a distinction. What impact did this have on his audience? The audience’s understanding of God’s relationship to Samaritans? Did the Samaritan return because he did not think he was worthy of the mercy of God? (something the Jews would heartily agree with). Did the others not return because somehow they thought they deserved healing and no thanks was necessary?

Notice that in 18:1 Luke gives a very plain explanation of why Jesus told the following parable: “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Do we call out for justice with faith that God will answer and provide justice? Or do we fear justice, knowing that we are just as guilty? (18:9ff).

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