Jesus' Teaching about Discipleship
Closely related to Jesus' teaching about the Kingdom of God are his sayings about discipleship. The choice to follow Jesus is a condition of entrance into the Kingdom of God; one cannot enter the Kingdom of God either preliminarily without being willing to become Jesus' follower or, finally, at time of the full eschatological reversal, without having been one. Jesus sees a person's relation to himself as determinate of that person's standing with God.
Jesus says that reward will be given to those who have followed him and sacrificed for him. This will take place "in this age" when his followers will receive all the good things that they have denied in the present. Jesus seems to mean that his followers will be rewarded when the Kingdom of God comes to its full realization, which is still part of "this age." Jesus also says that those who have followed him will receive "eternal life" "in the age to come" at which time there will be a reversal of statuses: "The last will be first and the first will be last." In the context, he is probably referring to the period after the full realization of the Kingdom of God. Exactly how this "eternal life" will differ from receiving reward in the future Kingdom is not explained.
Jesus demands that those who follow him do so immediately and unconditionally: "Let the dead bury their own dead" (Luke: "You depart and preach the Kingdom of God"). To follow Jesus is to accept his message of the Kingdom of God and to repent. As in most cultures, a son had a strong obligation to provide his deceased father with a proper burial (see Tobit 4:3; 6:15); the early rabbis even exempted a man from reciting the shema, from the tefillah (Eighteen Benedictions) and from tefillin (wearing phylacteries) in order to fulfill his duty to bury his dead (m. Ber. 3.1) (see Hengel, The Charismatic Leader and His Followers, 3-15). Of course, Jesus' directive for the literal dead to bury the literal dead is absurd, which has led many commentators to interpret the first reference to the dead metaphorically as the "spiritually" dead (Fitzmyer, Luke, 833-37; Bultmann, TDNT, 4. 893; Hengel, The Charismatic Leader and His Followers, 8. This is possible, but probably not as likely as interpreting Jesus as using extreme hyperbole, to the point of absurdity, to make the point that no obligation can take priority over following him (and preaching the Kingdom of God) (Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, 144; Manson, The Sayings of Jesus, 72-73). To say "Let the dead bury the dead" is to say "Let the dead remain unburied," if this is an obstacle to following Jesus. In other words, no duty, however important, can take priority over following Jesus.
Matthew and Luke both have a version of a saying in which Jesus teaches that becoming his disciple entails an unconditional commitment to him, which he expresses as loving him more than members of one's family (see Gospel of Thomas, 55 for another version). In the Lukan version, Jesus says that a would-be disciple must "hate" (misei) "father and mother, wife and children, sisters and brothers, and even his own self (tên psuchên heautou)"; "to hate" is a Semitism, meaning "to love less" (Gen 29:31-33; Deut 21:15-17; 2 Sam 19:7; Prov 13:24; Isa 60:15; Mal 1:2-3 (Jeremias, New Testament Theology, 224; Marshall, Luke, 592). Matthew's version correctly renders the meaning of this idiom: "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matt 10:37).
Matthew and Luke have another saying following Luke 14:26 = Matt 10:37 in which Jesus says, in order to be a follower Jesus, one must bear one's cross. He means that to be his follower a person must be willing to suffer persecution and martyrdom for his sake and the sake of the Kingdom of God. The Jews were familiar with the Roman practice of compelling a condemned man to carry his own cross. Even in a non-rejection context, Jesus still held that his followers could experience resistance from Jews who reject his message of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus teaches that the one who loses his or her life for his sake will gain it. Jesus means that the one who is martyred for his sake will find eternal life at the time of the resurrection. This is part of the eschatological reversal, which extends to those who have died unjustly.
1.5. Luke 9:61-62
Jesus teaches that the cost of becoming a disciple is high, so that a person cannot even return to say farewell to his family; such a person is not worthy of the Kingdom of God. Thus, to enter the Kingdom of God and to be a disciple of Jesus are inseparable. Jesus is probably using hyperbole to make the point that becoming a disciple takes priority over all natural relationships. It would seem that Jesus uses a common proverb to make his point: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." To look back when plowing results in crooked furrows (see Marshall, Luke, 412). Jesus' point is that no one who "looks back" to his old life after having become a disciple and begun working for the Kingdom of God will succeed at that work. He will be double-minded and too distracted. What is required is absolute commitment.
1.6. Luke 14:28-33
Because he demands that a person give up everything to become his disciple, Jesus urges would-be disciples to consider carefully what is required of them. He uses two examples to make the point that what is required of would-be disciples is a total commitment: the man who frivolously begins a construction project or the king who casually decides to make war will fail in their endeavors, because total commitment of resources is required for success. Jesus concludes, "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."
1.7. Matt 11:28-30
Jesus invites people to come to him and he will give them rest; they are to take his yoke upon themselves and learn from him, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light; the result will be that those who do so will find rest. The metaphor of taking on a yoke is found in Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira 51:26: the author instructs his readers to put their necks under the yoke of (a personified) wisdom and receive instruction. Elsewhere in Sirach, wisdom is equated with the Law (Sir 1:8-27; 3:17-24; 15:1; 21:11; 34:8; 39:6-11; see also Bar 3:9-4:4; 1 Enoch 69:9-12). Similarly, in Ps. Sol. 7:8, the author describes Israel as under God's yoke, meaning under obligation to obey the Law. In several early rabbinic texts, likewise, one finds the metaphor of the yoke of the Law, the yoke of the commandments or the yoke of Heaven, which means the yoke of God (m. Abot 3.5; Sipra Leviticus 11:45 121 [Parashat Shemini Pereq 12]; Sipre Deut 117; Sipra Leviticus 255 [Parashat Behar Parashah 5]) (see also Sipre Deut 93 for a description of the wicked as being "without the yoke"). In Sipre Deut 323, one even finds a reference to accepting upon oneself "the yoke of the kingdom of heaven." (In m. Ber. 2.2, R. Judah b. Korcha says that one takes on the yoke of Kingdom of Heaven and then the yoke of commandments, meaning that one submits to God' s rule first and then as a manifestation of this submission one takes upon oneself the obligation to keep the commandments.) It is not difficult to imagine the Pharisees and other Jewish religious groups in Jesus' day as describing a life of obedience to the Law as taking on the yoke of the Law or the commandments or of Heaven (God); in fact all the evidence points in that direction. What Jesus means is that, as the representative and mediator of the Kingdom of God, people can find the rest that comes from submitting themselves to his authority and learning from him; although he does not say why this is true, according to Jesus, to do so is much easier as compared to the other religious options available. Jesus may have in mind the burden that learning all the Pharisaic oral tradition imposes upon those without adequate resources or opportunity to do so (see Matt 23:4). Jesus adds that he is gentle and humble of heart, which could explain why becoming a disciple is such a positive experience: Jesus will not exploit or oppress his disciple. It should also be pointed out that, in calling others to come to him, to take his yoke and to learn from him, Jesus is casting himself in the role of personified wisdom (see Prov 1:20-33; 8:1-36; Sir 24:19-22; 51:23-27; Wis 6-11).
To enter the Kingdom of God
or Heaven is to synonymous with becoming a follower of Jesus; the one
who repents and believes Jesus' message is required to submit unconditionally
to Jesus' demand to become a disciple (Luke 9:59-60 = Matt 8:21-22; Luke
14:26-27 = Matt 10:37-39; Luke 9:61-62; Luke 14:28-33).
Jesus' describes becoming his followers as taking his yoke upon themselves
and learning of him, which, surprisingly, is not at all difficult and
burdensome (Matt 11:28-30). Jesus promises that in "the age to come,"
disciples will be rewarded: "The last will be first and the first will
be last" (Mark 10:28-31 = Matt 19:27-30 = Luke 18:29-30); those who have
been martyred for Jesus' sake will find eternal life (Luke 17:33 = Matt
In Luke, Jesus gives a prayer to his disciples in response their request for a prayer like the one John (the Baptist) gave to his disciples; in Matthew there is no such introduction.
After the direct address "Father" (patêr), a translation of the Aramaic 'abba, occurs two eschatological petitions: "May your name be made holy" and "May your kingdom come." God's name is synonymous with God or at least with God as known to human beings. To make God's name, or God, holy is an idiom, meaning to give the reverence and obedience that is due to God (see Isa 29:23; Ezek. 36:22-23; Sipre Deut 306; Sipra Leviticus 195 [Parashat Qedoshim Parashah 1]). The opposite of making God's name holy is to profane the name of God (See Moore, Judaism, 2.100-111). The disciples are also to pray for the coming of the Kingdom of God, the time when God's name will be made holy. This will be the time when God's will will done by human beings as it is done by God's angels, as Matthew explains. As Jeremias points out, the first two petitions in the Lord's Prayer are similar to the Kaddish, an ancient Jewish prayer, composed in Aramaic, and recited in the time of Jesus (New Testament Theology, 197-99):
Exalted and holy be his great nameThe prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples, therefore, was similar in content to a Jewish prayer used in his day. The next three petitions concern the needs of the petitioners. They ask God for forgiveness on the condition that the petitioner forgives others (see Sir 28:2), for their daily required provision of food and for not to be led into trial or difficult circumstances (The implication is that human beings will naturally face difficulties unless they ask God to be exempt from them). (There has been much debate on the meaning of the adjective epiousion modifying arton ["bread"].) Fitzmyer is probably correct translating it as "essential" or "necessary" [Luke, 904-906]. The word opheilêma reflects the Aramaic use of "debt" [chwb'] for "sin" [see Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts, 102; Fitzmyer, Luke, 2.906]. None of these petitions would have seemed unusual to Jesus' contemporaries; no doubt Jews made similar peititions of God all the time. Matthew's version adds as a supplement to this final petition: "But deliver us from the evil one." To be delivered from trial is to be delivered from the influence of Satan or spirits under his authority no doubt on the assumption that these beings are responsible for human suffering.
After they notice that the fig tree that Jesus cursed earlier has now dried up, the disciples marvel. Jesus exhorts them to have faith in God, and then teaches them about the power of believing prayer (Mark 11:22-23 = Matt 21:21).The implication is that Jesus used faith to cause the fig tree to become withered and that the same power is available to the disciples. He teaches that with faith everything is possible, even the causing of the removal of "this" mountain into the sea, a proverbially impossible task. Jesus could be referring to the Mount of Olives, which is to be thrown into the Dead Sea, visible from the former; the Mount of Olives lies between the Temple and Bethany, where Jesus resided (Mark 11:12) (Lane, Mark, 410). Following this is another saying in which Jesus teaches that when one asks for something from God in prayer a condition of receiving the request is faith (Mark 11:24 = Matt 21:22). The final Markan saying cautions against asking while harboring unforgiveness against another when praying; a condition of being forgiven by God is forgiveness of others (Mark 11:25). The implication is that one's prayers will not be heard if the one praying has unforgiven sin. (Matthew omits this saying, perhaps because he includes similar non-Markan sayings elsewhere in his gospel [Matt 5:23; 6:9; 6:14-15].)
In Luke 11:9-12 = Matt 7:7-11 are found two sayings on prayer and faith. In the first saying (Luke 11:9-10 = Matt 7:7-8), verbally identical in each gospel, Jesus teaches in poetic form that the one who in faith asks God for something will receive it (see Burney, The Poetry of Our Lord, 67, 83, 114). He makes three parallel statements Luke 11:9 = Matt 7:7): "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you," which are are reinforced in the three shorter lines that follow in Luke 11:10 = Matt 7:8: "He who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
In the second saying (Luke 11:11-12 = Matt 7:9-11), using the analogy of a human father and his benevolent attitude towards his own children, Jesus instructs his disciples to expect God to answer their prayers. In other words, he argues from minor to major that, if human fathers are good to their children, then surely God will be good to His spiritual children. There are differences between the two versions of this saying. In Matthew, Jesus asks, "Which man from among you, whose son asks for bread will give him a stone, or whose son asks for a fish will give him a snake?" Syntactically, Jesus' question is really a conditional sentence, the questions functioning as the apodosis and the protasis being supplied by the relative clauses relating to the son's requests: if a man's son asks for either bread or a fish, a man will surely not give him a stone or a snake. In the Lukan version, Jesus likewise makes a conditional proposition in the form of a question; different from Matthew, however, the son asks his father for a fish and an egg: "Which father from among you, when his son asks him for a fish will give him a snake or when he asks him for an egg will give him a scorpion?" (In some manuscripts of Luke, after "son" (huios), is found the phrase "bread, not a son will he give to him, or [also]," but this is clearly an assimilation to the Matthean text). Those who assume that Matthew and Luke each derives the saying from the so-called Q source attempt to determine which of the two versions best represents the hypothetical original (For a list of suggestions, see Marshall, Luke, 469). It is probable, however, that there were two different versions of this saying in circulation, and this because Jesus used this saying more than once and varied its wording. Nevertheless, in spite of the differences, Jesus' point is clear: human beings should expect good things from God, and not bad, since God is at least as good as human fathers.
Jesus continues his argument from minor to major in Luke 11:13 = Matt 7:11. He reasons that, if evil human fathers give "good gifts" (domata agatha) to their children, then surely the heavenly Father will be at least equally as generous. In Matthew's version, Jesus asks, "How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him," whereas in Luke's version, rather than good things, Jesus says that God will give a or the "Holy Spirit" to those who ask Him. Scholars who accept the existence of the hypothetical document known conventionally as "Q" usually judge that Luke has change the original reading, represented by Matthew, on account of his particular interest in the Spirit (see Luke 1:15, 35, 41, 67, 80; 2:25, 26, 27; 3:16, 22; 4:1 [bis], 14, 18; 10:21; 11:13; 12:10, 12; 24:49) (Fitzmyer, Luke, 913-17; Ellis; Luke, 166). But, it is possible that there were two different versions of this saying in circulation, both originating with Jesus. The gift of a holy spirit or spirit of holiness was a part of Jewish eschatological expectation (see John the Baptist).
Matthew and Luke have two different sayings that make the same point about the power of faith. What they share in common is the use of the metaphor of the mustard seed: faith can be as small as the proverbial mustard seed in order to achieve great results (Perrin, Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus, 138). (Matthew appends the saying to the Markan narrative about the inability of the disciples to exorcize "a dumb spirit" from a boy, whereas Luke includes it among a collection of sayings in 17:1-10.) The results that are achievable by faith are described with two different metaphors of contrast. Faith as small as a mustard can move a mountain in Matt 17:20 (see Matt 21:21 = Mark 11:23), whereas in Luke 17:6 it can uproot a sycamore tree, known for its deep roots (see m. B. Bat. 2.11).
2.5. Luke 11:5-8
In Luke 11:5-8, situated by Luke after the Lord's Prayer, is found a saying about the need for persistence in prayer (see Bonsirven, Le règne de Dieu, 169-73). Jesus makes the point by telling the parable of the man who importunes his neighbor at night until the neighbor finally gets out of bed and gives the man what he wants. Jesus argues from minor to major: if an unwilling man will finally give a another man what he wants because of his persistence, how much more will a willing God give to those who persist in asking for something. The parable begins with the formula, "Who among you...?" (tis ex humôn), which is characteristic of other Lukan parables (see 11:11; 12:25; 14:28; 15:4; 17:7; 14:31; 15:8). Jesus begins this way in order to engage his hearers and cause them to judge for themselves and thereby judge themselves. The expected answer is either "No one" or "Everyone," depending on the situation described. (Jeremias claims that by appending Luke 11:9-13 to the parable, Luke has provided it with an interpretation that distorts Jesus' original meaning. Jeremias holds that the point of the parable was to depict God as the helping friend, whereas Luke's interpretation focuses on the need for persistent prayer [The Parables of Jesus, 105; 157-59]. But Jeremias' position seems improbable, especially given the Parable of the Persistent Widow, which is parallel in meaning [Luke 18:1-8].)
2.6. Luke 18:1-8
Jesus teaches that God is well-disposed towards those who petition him in prayer, although such petitioning must be done with perseverance. Luke explains that "Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1), thereby guiding the reader in its interpretation. Jesus compares the one who asks of God to a widow who harasses a judge for so long that he finally gives her what she wants, justice. God is like the judge, not in being unwilling to give justice, but because, for whatever reason, sometimes God must be "harassed" until he gives what is requested by the petitioner.
2.7. Matt 6:5-8
Jesus teaches how not to pray: One should not pray to make a favorable impression on onlookers like "the hypocrites," and one should not pray as the pagans, with repetitious babbling.
Jesus calls the disciples "the light of the world," by which he means that they communicate God's truth and salvation to all who have contact with them; they cannot hide their "light-nature" any more than a city on a hill can be concealed from view. Jesus encourages those who follow him to let their lights shine so that people will see their good works and glorify God (Matt 5:14, 16). Jesus also compares the one who enters the Kingdom of God to a light that is not to be placed under a basket but set upon a lamp stand. The point is that such a one should make it known that he or she has entered the Kingdom of God (Mark 4:21 = Luke 8:16-17; Luke 11:33 = Matt 5:15).
Jesus says to the crowd that his true mothers and brothers are those who do the will of God. In Jesus' view, whether one does the will of God has priority over everything else. It is God's will that Jesus' hearers believe the message of the Kingdom of God and repent.
Using the metaphor of the beam and speck of wood in eyes, Jesus speaks against hypocritical judging: only he who is without fault can justifiably judge others. The picture is intentionally bizarre to stress how inappropriate it is to judge when one is as guilty as the one whom one judges.
Included as one of a collection of three sayings in Mark 4:21-25 is a saying in which Jesus sets forth a principle according to which God relates to human beings. Jesus teaches that the one who has it shall be given to him, but the one who does not have, whatever he does have, will be taken away. (As already indicated, Matthew interpolates into his Markan source either this Markan saying [Mark 4:25 = Luke 8:18b] or a non-Markan version of the same saying, placing this in relation to Jesus' explanation of why he teaches in parables. The version of the saying in the doublet in Luke 19:26 = Matt 25:29 does not differ substantially from Mark 4:25.) The point seems to be that God gives both abundantly and selectively; what is implied in Jesus' saying is that God gives on the condition of faith, so that faith receives abundantly from God, where the lack of faith loses what little it has.
Jesus says if the blind lead the blind they will both fall into the ditch, by which he means that one must be careful in one's choice of teachers.
In what appears to be three independent traditions, Jesus teaches that God will deal with a person in the same way that the person has dealt with others: "With the measure you use, it will be measured to you." This idea is also found in early rabbinic literature, some of which dates from before Jesus; thus, Jesus' teaching is likely not unique to him. In early rabbinic material, it is affirmed that punishment for transgression is not arbitrarily meted out. Rather, there is an appropriateness to each act of retributive justice. As the early rabbis put it, "By the measure that one metes out to others one is also measured." The appropriateness consists in the fact that a person is dealt with in the way that he or she has dealt with others. For example, Moses' exclusion of Miriam from the camp for seven days on account of her leprous condition is seen as appropriate punishment for someone who abandoned her baby brother Moses ("stood at a distance") after placing him in the water (Exod 2:4) (Sipre Num CVI:II 2.A; see also Mek. Beshallah 1.108-10, 194-95; 6.137-40; Mek. Shirata 4.80-101; 5.25-26; 6.104-105; Mek. Amalek 2.1-11; Sipre Deut 296, 308). In Luke 6:38, it is added that God will give to a person in proportion to his giving to others: "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap." This is a restatement of this principle of the measure.
3.7. Luke 10:25-37
In response to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan to make the point that one's neighbor is anyone in need. In the parable, it is the Samaritan who is a "neighbor" to the injured man, not the priest or Levite, both Jews involved in Temple service. The parable would have a jarring effect on the sensibilities of his hearers, because of the general antipathy of Jews towards Samaritans. The narrative concludes: "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
3.8. Luke 12:16-21
In response to being asked to be an arbitrator, Jesus warns against being distracted by greed: "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). In his view, a person is not his or her possessions. He makes his point by telling a parable about a rich, but foolish landowner. Unlike the landowner who accumulates only material wealth, a person must choose to become rich before God. To become rich towards God is to do accumulate deeds that really matter to God (see Matt 6:19-20).
Jesus says that a person cannot serve mammon and God at the same time. (Mammon is an Aramaic word for wealth.) Jesus is saying that it is impossible to have as one's life goal the accumulation of wealth and the goal of obeying and thereby pleasing God. The two are incompatible because the realization of the aim to accumulate wealth will at times prevent a person from obeying God, because to do the latter is not always financially profitable. In addition to pursue wealth as a life goal will require a general moral laxity, since moral scruples may interfere with profit.
3.10. Luke 17:7-10
Using a parable, Jesus explains that servants who merely do their duty are not to be praised. The same is true of those who do their duty towards God. When he obeys God, a man has only done he should have done, and therefore is not worthy of praise.
Jesus says that the one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. To speak against the Holy Spirit is to reject the message of the Kingdom of God and its messenger.
Jesus says that the one who wants to be first must become the servant of all. There is to be a reversal of values in the Kingdom of Heaven, so that the one who serves others will be considered great.
3.13. Mark 11:25; Matt 6:14-15
In two independent sayings, Jesus teaches that divine forgiveness is conditional on forgiving others.
Jesus commends a widow for giving all she had to the temple; he was commending her not merely for her generosity, but also for her faith: in giving all that she had, she was thereby trusting God to provide for her needs.
3.15. Luke 6:37 = Matt 7:1
Jesus teaches that a person ought not to judge, because judging others will bring God's judgment on the one who judges.
In two versions of the same tradition, Jesus teaches that a student or disciple is not above his teacher or master; all that a student or disciple can hope for is to be equal with his teacher or master. so that the disciple will share the fate of his master. The intended application of this saying, however, is not clear.
The two versions of this tradition are different at points, but may originate from a common source. In Luke's version, Jesus teaches his disciples that, by giving to the poor, they store up treasure in heaven; in Matthew's version, Jesus likewise speaks about storing up treasure in heaven and not on earth, but says nothing about the means by which this is done: giving to the poor. To store up treasure in heaven is to gain God's approval and reward through obedience, which, in this case, as Luke indicates, is through giving to the poor. The Torah requires protection of and generosity to the poor (see Exod 23:6; Lev. 25:35-37; Deut 15:7-11; 24:14-15); in Deut 15:10b, it is promised: "Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to." In other words, reward is promised to the one who is generous to the poor.
In the second-Temple period, the giving of alms was required of the righteous, and, in accordance with the Torah, the righteous were promised reward for their obedience to the Torah in being generous to the poor. In Tobit, the angel Raphael recommends to Tobit almsgiving with righteousness, "For almsgiving saves from death and cleanses from every sin" (12:9). In another passage almsgiving is compared in its efficacy to "a good offering...before the Most High" (4:9-11) (see also 14:10). The righteous person who is generous to the poor assures for himself or herself protection from premature death and the possibility of being cleansed from any and every sin. In other words, because of his or her past record, God in his mercy will exempt such a one from the consequences of his or her uncharacteristic sins. (This may explain why after Tobit was scourged, God had mercy on him [11:15]). Similarly, Ben Sirach says that giving alms to the poor not only protects a person from misfortune (29:9-13; 40:17, 24), but actually atones for sins (3:30). In Sipre Deut 117, which is a midrash on Deut 15:9-10, how God rewards the one who is generous to the poor is described in detail:
If a person had said that he would give and then gave, he would receive one reward for the saying and another reward for the act of giving. If he had said that he would give but was then unable to do so, he would receive a reward a reward for the saying equivalent to the act of giving. If he did not say that he would give but told others to give, he would receive a reward for that, as it is said, "Because that for this thing." If he neither said that he would give nor told others to give, but comforted the donee with kind words, whence do we learn that he would receive a reward even for that? From the statement, "Because that for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work.(M. Abot 1.2 calls the acts of charity (gemiloth chasadim) one of the three things whereby the world is upheld, the other two being the Law and Temple service.) It is clear that the person who was generous to the poor could expect reward in this life from God, whatever this might be.
The reward that Jesus promises to his disciples for their generosity to the poor is to be stored up in heaven, by which he means with God; it seems that Jesus is speaking of eschatological reward, to be given after the eschatological reversal at the time of final judgment. Jesus adds, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." This probably means that, when they store up eschatological reward for themselves by their generosity to the poor, the disciples will be characterized as those who eschew this age and its meager benefits and wait for the age to come, the Kingdom of God.
3.18. Luke 17:3b = Matt 18:15
In what appears to be two versions of the same saying, Jesus teaches that one must rebuke a brother if he sins. In Luke's version, one must forgive a brother who repents, whereas in Matthew, Jesus says that the one who rebukes a brother has won him over if he heeds the rebuke (The assumption is that he repents.)
In two independent sayings, Jesus teaches that there is no limit on the number of times one must forgive.
3.20. Luke 6:36 (see Matt 5:48)
Jesus requires that his followers be merciful as God is merciful.
3.21. Luke 11:27-28
Jesus teaches that true blessedness comes from hearing the word of God and doing it.
3.22. Matt 5:48 (see Luke 6:36)
Jesus requires that his followers be perfect as God is perfect.
3.23. Luke 14:12-14
Jesus advises those giving dinners or feasts to invite those who cannot repay them, for God will repay them at the resurrection of the righteous. God's rewards for obedience at the resurrection of the righteous is an aspect of the Kingdom of God in its future realization.
3.24. Matt 19:11-12
Jesus allows for the possibility that there would be voluntary eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, by which he means those who refrain from marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.
3.25. Acts 20:35
This saying of Jesus is not found in the gospels, but is cited by Paul. Paul quotes Jesus as saying that it is more blessed to give than to receive. The meaning is that a person who gives to others in the end will receive more in return (blessedness) than if he had received; the principle at work in creation is that, ironically, giving leads to receiving even more than one gave. It is the same idea expressed in Mark 4:24; Matt 7:2; Luke 6:38.
3.26. Forgiveness (Matt 18:23-35)
Jesus tells another parable in order to indicate that the Kingdom of Heaven (God) as the time of undeserved forgiveness. Even though Matthew attaches it to the pericope on forgiving one's brother seventy times seven times, this parable stands alone and should be taken as a self-contained point about the Kingdon of Heaven (God). The story is told is about an earthly king who seeks to settle accounts with his "servants" (douloi), who are probably to be taken more as government officials or ministers than mere domestic slaves (The phrase sunairô logon in active or middle voice is a commercial idiom; see P.Fay 109.6; BGU 775.19; Pap.Ox. 1. 113.27.) The situation envisioned is that of an earthly king (anthrôpos basileus) who has given his ministers certain governmental responsibilities with corresponding budgets and now intends to audit them. One minister is discovered to have a huge deficit for reasons that are unstated, but may be due to inept embezzlement. His deficit is ten thousand talents, which is six thousand denarii; a denarius is the standard daily wage for a worker. To have such a huge debt intentionally stretches the bounds of narrative realism: such hyperbole serves to make the point that the minister is so much in debt that he will never be able to repay the king. The penalty for incurring such a deficit is to be sold into slavery along with his entire family (see 2 Kgs 4; Neh 5:5; Isa 50). But when the minister appeals for mercy the king forgives his huge, unpayable debt. The Kingdom of Heaven is like this story that Jesus told because God mercifully forgives Jews their sins. The fact that in Aramaic the word debt (chwb') is used metaphorically to denote a sin would make the point of the parable even clearer to the original Aramaic hearers. According to the metaphor, Jews owe God obedience and when they do not give God what they owe by obeying the commandments then they are in debt to God (see M. Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts, 102) (see Matt 6:12 = Luke 11:4). (In 4Q584 [4QNoah ar], the terms "sin and debt" [cht'h wchwbth'] occur in tandem as apparent synonyms [frag. 2 17].) Jesus point in the first half of he parable is that the Kingdom of Heaven (God) is the time of unconditional forgiveness for Jewish sinners. In the second half of the parable the minister subsequently does not forgive a subordinate a much smaller debt, but throws his debtor into prison. When he finds out what has happened, the king becomes angry and cancels the forgiveness of the first servant's debt. The point is that only on the condition of forgiveness does a person retain God's forgiveness. Jesus concludes, "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."
Somewhere among the chambers in the Court of Women was located the Temple treasury (gazophulakia), a place where money donated to the Temple or deposited privately was kept (War 5.5.2; 200; 6.5.2; 282; see Ant. 19.6.1; 294). According to the Mishnah there were located in the Temple thirteen horned-shaped depositories (shoparoth) designated for different types of offerings; people would deposit money in these depositories for different purposes (m. Sheq. 2.1; 6. 1, 5). It is probable that these thirteen depositories were located near the Temple treasury. Jesus observes that a widow who put all that she had, two small copper coins (two lepta), rather than a small percentage of her total wealth: "For they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on" (Mark 12:44). Jesus commended the woman for her generosity but also her faith in God: in spite of having no more money she was confident that she would not be lacking with respect to the necessities of life.
Jesus avoids being trapped by a trick question. Whichever reply he gave to the question of whether an obedient Jew should pay Roman taxes would get Jesus in trouble. If he said that it was unlawful to pay Roman taxes, Jesus might have been considered politically dangerous.
3.29. Matt 10:29 = Luke 12:6-7
Jesus argues from minor to major that, if God is concerned about sparrows, then how much more is God concerned about human beings, who are much more valuable than birds. Jesus also hyperbolically explains that a human being is so important that even his or her hairs are numbered.
3.30. Luke 14:7-11
Jesus gives practical advice on how to behave when invited to a banquet. He says that one should not presume to be important and therefore take a prominent place at the table. (At banquets a person's social social status was expressed by how close they were sitting to the host.) This could result in humilitation because the host may require that the person move to the lowest ranked place because all the other places are already taken. Rather one should recline at the lowest ranked place and then be honored by being moved to a higher ranked place by the host. He concludes with the general principle: "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
3.31 Luke 14:12-14
Jesus advises that a person invite to a meal those who cannot repay him in kind, "the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." The result will be eschatological reward from God, "at the resurrection of the righteous."