This week’s readings contain a sample of Jesus teachings. In reading them we will notice two things particularly that will help us better understand:
(a) Jesus is a prophet: so the rules we learnt for reading Old Testament prophets will help us understand Jesus. These rules were:
- Prophets spoke to a context: knowing the who, what, when, where, how & why can help us get the point.
- Prophetic speech is often a conversation.
- Prophets are about conversion (not prediction).
(b) Jesus taught (often) in parables. Parables are picture language. Parable in Greek parabole or in Hebrew mashal means a “comparison”. So to understand a parable, as well as looking at the context we need to ask what comparison is being made?
In the first reading (the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, Mat 5:1-6:4) we’ll notice that Luke has a Sermon on a Plain and so how each Gospel remembers Jesus for themselves, that like any good biography Gospels are not transcripts, but meaningful retellings of the life of Jesus.
The second reading is the second part of the Sermon on Mount (Mat 6:5-7:29) we’ll notice that Jesus teaches like the prophets and how radical that teaching is.
The third reading Mat 13 introduces us to parables, and also shows us that parables are sometimes intended to make us think not provide quick simple answers.
For the fourth reading, Luke 10:25-37, I’ll suggest that the “Good Samaritan” is not about the Good Samaritan Jesus remember is a prophet and prophets turn things upside down and inside out.
Then we’ll apply all this to the lost and found parables Luke 15:1-32, especially to “The Prodigal Son” and again I’ll suggest the parable is not about the prodigal son, or even his forgiving father.