Monday, May 30, 2016

Luke 7:11-17

This passage occurs in the RCL, Year 3, most recently June 5, 2016.
Summary:  Luke paints a vivid picture of a funeral here.  I have two points I'd like to emphasize.  First, that human grief over death is real.  In our culture we expect people to move on so quickly.  I think the church, even the church of the resurrection, should be a place where we have compassion on people as they grieve.  Secondly, Jesus raises this child up.  We often refer to Jesus "three fold messianic" prediction where he speaks of his death on the cross and resurrection.  In Luke 7, 8 and 9 he raises up three only begotten children, perhaps also a place of foreshadowing his great work of resurrection.

Key Words:
First, a note.  Luke paints a vivid picture of a funeral here in a just a few sentences.
Words related to death: 
τεθνηκως 12:  Particle form of "to die"
εκκομιζω 12:  To carry out, often referring to act of carrying body for burial
σορος 14:  coffin, bier
νεκρος 15: corpse (death in general)

κλαιε ("wail", 7:13)  Some translations put this as weep.  While it can mean weep, it signifies an intensity much more like "wail" than "weep."  Like when Hagar is alone in the wilderness; or Joseph sees his brother; or when Mary is searching for the risen Christ.

χηρα ("widow"; 7:13)  In this culture, a widow was not simply a marital status, but also a financial one.  A widow would have lacked resources, likely.  Her son was her social security.  This detail can open up the door for a nice contrast between the story of the widow at Nain and the Centurion at Capernuam.

μονογενη ("only begotten", 7:13)  Jesus heals three "only begotten" children in Luke 7, 8 and 9.  While Jesus himself is never referred to as the only-begotten son in Luke, this three fold healing suggests foreshadowing for Jesus resurrection.

προφητης ("prophet", 7:16)  The word prophet appears 24 times in Luke, often from Jesus' lips.  Most often Jesus refers to prophets in two ways:  Those who were killed or those who spoke of his (eventual) coming.  To put it another way, people often associate being a prophet with the capacity to speak about the future (Harry Potter) or the audacity to speak about social justice.  In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus depicts the prophets as people who spoke of him and got killed for doing so.

For example:
Luke 13:34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! Luke 18:31 Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.
But more to the point, look at how Jesus describes the work of prophets on the road to Emmaus:
Luke 24:25 Then he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!
Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
Luke 24:44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you -- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled."

As a side note:  Jesus does declare himself greater than a prophet (Luke 7:26 says that John was greater than a prophet; Luke 16:16 that the Good News, not the Law and Prophets, is proclaimed through him).

εσπλαγχνισθη ("compassion", from σπλαγχνιζομαι, 7:13)  I've frequently mentioned this before but this verb comes from the noun for intestines.  In his gut Jesus felt sorry for the woman.

Grammar point:
μη + present verb (as in "weep" in 7.13) means "no longer do such and such," implying the action was going on before this.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good stuff as always. Your comments on prophets makes this passage less confusing.

I also found the Greek for "to see" in verse 13 to be helpful. It has the implications that just by looking at the widow a connection has been formed and already has made up his mind he is going to help.