The King of Stories -- Administrations

Introductory note from Jason Pratt: see here for the previous entry; and see here for the first entry of the series. (It explains what I'm doing, and how, and contains the Johannine prologue.)

The GosLuke incidents reported in this chapter had no specific time/place tags--Luke implies very generally, by putting them where he does, that they happen during Jesus' final tour of Galilee on the way back to Jerusalem to die. Which still fits the general timeframe I am assigning them here; but since Luke isn't more explicit about the linkages, I've ported them over to fill a chapter while Jesus and His disciples are on the way north into Syria from Jerusalem.

Plus, if crowds are following Jesus after the spats He recently had, with Pharisee disciples/supporters of His bowing out--and with His knowledge of where He's going, which soon becomes a key topic in preparing His disciples--then I can easily imagine Him nipping the crowd's enthusiasms by implicitly comparing them with the failed Pharisaical disciples: this is what discipleship entails, people... this is what following Me entails. Count the cost.

Which is what Jesus Himself is doing, too...


Now great multitudes went together with Him (says the Scholar).

But He turned and said to them:

"If anyone comes to Me and is not hating his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters--and yet more, his own soul besides!... he cannot be My disciple.

"And whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.

"For which of you, wanting to build a tower, would not first sit down to count the cost, to see if you can do it?--lest at some time you lay a foundation and cannot finish, and all who observe it begin to mock you saying, 'This man started to build, but wasn't strong enough to finish!'

"Or what king, setting out to meet another king in battle, won't sit down and ponder whether with ten thousand troops he can encounter his opponent--who is bringing twenty thousand!? Otherwise, while still far off, he sends ambassadors to ask the terms toward peace!

"So then: not one of you who doesn't leave behind all your possessions, can be My disciple."


Now all the tax-collectors and the sinners would come near Him to be hearing Him; and the Pharisees and scribes both grumbled, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and is eating with them!"

But He told (the Pharisees and scribes, along with others perhaps) this parable, saying:

"Which man of you, if he had a hundred sheep yet losing even one of them, does not leave all the ninety-nine, (even) in a mountain pasture, and go searching for the lost one until he has found it?

"And then when he finds it, he is placing it upon his shoulders, rejoicing!

"And when he comes home, he calls his friends and neighbors to him, saying to them: 'Rejoice together with me!--for I found my sheep which had been lost!!'

"So I say to you: in just this way there will be joy in heaven over one repenting sinner, more than over nine and ninety justice-lovers who have no need to repent.

"Or what woman, having ten day-wager silver coins, losing one, does not light up her lamp and sweep the house and search with care until she finds it?!

"And when she has found it, she then calls her women-friends and neighbors all together saying: 'Rejoice together with me!--for I found the coin which was lost!

"So I say to you: in just this way the angels in the sight of God rejoice when they see even one repenting sinner!"


And He said,

"A certain person had two sons. And one of them, the younger, told his father, 'Father, give me all that I am owed from your estate!' (as if the father had already died)

"So he divided up his life among them. (becoming legally dead though still alive; the older brother now controls the household as the heir.)

"But a few days afterward, the younger son packed up all his inheritance and went out on a journey to a distant land.

"And there, he wastes all his inheritance (the lifegift of his father)--doing anything he wanted.

"Now when he had spent everything, a famine hit that land severely, and he starts to be in want.

"And so he went and ‘joined himself’ unto one of the citizens of that far country; and he sent him out into the fields to feed his hogs. (possibly referring to two of the things that would disgust a Jewish audience most about Gentile habits...)

"And he yearned to even eat the little carob pods eaten by the hogs, to satisfy his belly--and no one gave to him.

"But coming to his senses, he declared: 'How many of my father's bondsmen actually are bored with bread!--yet I am dying here of famine!!

"'I will rise, and go back to my father and declare to him: "Father, I have sinned against the heaven (meaning God) and in your sight! No longer am I worthy to be called your son--make me one of your hired men!"'

"And rising, he came toward his father.

"Now while he was still far distant, his father saw him--

“--and he has compassion!

“--and (abandoning any Middle Eastern dignity for a patriarch) running, he embraces him and fondly kisses him!

"Now the son does say to him: 'Father, I have sinned against the heaven; and also in your sight! No longer am I worthy to be called your son--'

"Yet the father said toward his slaves: 'Speed!!! Bring the first robe out here! Put it on him! Give a ring into his hand! Put sandals on his feet! And bring the grain-fed calf, and sacrifice it, so that eating we may celebrate!--for this is my dead son who lives again!--he was lost, and has been found!!!'

"And they began to celebrate!

"Now, his elder son was in the field, and as he comes and nears the house, he hears the music, (even) choral dancing!

"And he called a servant-boy to him, in order to inquire what this might be!

"Now he said to him, 'Your brother is arriving; and your father sacrifices the best calf, seeing that he got him back entire!'

"But he was furious, and would not enter. (a mortal insult to the father...)

"Yet his father, coming out, entreated him.

"Now he, in answer to his father, said: 'Look! For all these years, I have been slaving for you, and I have never passed aside a single order that you gave--and you have never given even one young goat to me that I might have a celebration with my friends! Yet when this son of yours comes, who has devoured your life with prostitutes... you sacrifice for him the grain-fed calf!!!'

"But he said to him; 'My child... you are always with me, and all the things I have are yours. Yet it is necessary that we should rejoice and celebrate--for this, your brother, had been dead and lives again...

"...and he was lost; but has been found."


Now He said to His disciples also:

"There was a certain rich man with a steward.

"But an adversary told him that this steward was embezzling his possessions.

"Now calling him, he said to him: 'What is this I hear about you!? Give up the accounting sheet of your administration: for you cannot be my steward any longer!' (a relatively light punishment according to the laws of the time; the man could have been sold into slavery with his family or even executed as a traitor.)

"But to himself the steward said: 'What shall I be doing?!--for my master will be wresting my administration from me! I cannot dig, I am not strong enough; and I am too ashamed to beg... ... ... Now I have the knowledge what to do!--so that whenever I may be deposed from office, they shall be receiving me into their homes!'

"Now calling to him each one of the debtors owing to his master interest money, he said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' And he said to him, 'A hundred baths of oil.' Now he said to him, 'Receive your bills!--and sit yourself and quickly write out fifty!' (i.e. the debtor will be visibly complicit in the fraud, but the fraud will also benefit the rich man in public standing.)

"Then he said unto another, 'Now, you!--how much are you owing?' And he said, 'A hundred kors of grain.' And he is saying to him, 'Take your bills, and write down eighty!'

"Now--the Lord applauds the unjust steward: because he acted shrewdly! For the sons of this, the eon, are more shrewd above the sons of light in their own generation!

"But: is this what I am saying to you?--'Make your friends with the security of injustice, so that if you ever fail then they, the unjust, shall be receiving you into the tabernacles of God's own'??!

"He who can be trusted in a very little thing, is faithful in much also; and whoever is unjust in very little things, is also unjust in the much.

"If, therefore, you cannot be worth trusting even in the unjust security, who will entrust the true to you!?

"And if you never come to be trustworthy in another's things, then who will give you what is yours!?

"No house-slave can serve two masters: either he will hate the one and love the other; or he will uphold one, and despise the other.

"You cannot be serving security, and also God."

[Footnote: Mammon--a Hebrew word, related to the word for trust or truth, carrying the context of security, and commonly applied to the security of wealth. Notice the use of 'trust' and 'trustworthiness' themes in this parable also.]

Now (the Scholar says) the Pharisees--who by nature loved their money!--also heard all this; and they were blowing out their lips in mockery! (literally 'out-noise-izing')

But He said to them:

"You are the ones who are justifying yourselves in the sight of the people! (i.e., well, now everyone here has heard your defense, from your own lips! With a defense like that, why should I add anything more??)

"Yet God knows your hearts, for the high among people is an abomination in the sight of God! (i.e., had you given an epic defense, the people might be impressed, but God would still know the despicable truth; how much more despicable is that truth in relation to that vulgar defense then!)

"The Law and the Prophets were (preached, most recently by the Pharisees, scribes, lawyers and priests in the Temple and synagogues) until John (the Baptist); since then, the good news of the kingdom of God is being!

"But everyone rapes it (is ‘violently forcing into it’, for their own pleasure and benefit).

"Yet it is easier for the heaven and the earth to pass away, than for a single stroke of a letter of the Law to fail! (As an example how diamond-hard the Law really is:) Everyone sending away his wife and marrying another, commits adultery. And everyone marrying her who has been dismissed from a husband commits adultery.

"Now--there was a certain rich man, and he dressed in purple and fine linen, making merry every day in splendor. (Thus voiding the Sabbath by making his servants work to serve him on that day.)

"And there was a certain poor man named... Lazarus! (‘God-helped’)--who had been cast off toward his door, having ulcers (probably being a leper), and yearning to be satisfied by any scraps which might be falling from the rich man's table. But the wild dogs came and licked his ulcers (being helped by them in pity.)

"Now the poor man came to die--and he is being carried off by angels into Abraham's embrace!

"And the rich man also died... and was entombed.

"Yet existing in torments, in the unseen (literally in Hades, or the state between the death and resurrection), lifting up his eyes... he is seeing Abraham far off, embracing Lazarus. (much as the father in the previous parable had embraced the stricken repentant son.)

"Now shouting out he said, 'Father Abraham! Be merciful to me!--and send Lazarus that he should dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am pained in this flame!!'

"But Abraham said: 'Child... remember that you received your good things in your life, and Lazarus likewise the evil things; yet here he is now being comforted, but you are agonizing!

"'And so in all these things, there has been fixed a mighty chasm between yourself and us, so that whoever wants to cross from here toward you may not be able; nor yet those from there may cross to us.'

"But he said, 'Father I am asking you then, that you would send him into the house of my father--for I have five brothers--so that he may verify the facts to them, lest they may also come into this place of torment!'

"Now Abraham is saying to him, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' (i.e. in regard to the charity the rich man should have showed but didn't.)

"Yet he said, 'Not!--father Abraham! But if a dead man went to them, then they will willingly change their hearts!'

"But he said to him:

"'If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded...

...even by one who rises from the dead.'"

Matthew 6:24
Luke 14:25-33
Luke 15:1-32
Luke 16:1-31

[Next time: To the Puppies! (which has an interesting topical link to at least one of these parables...)]


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