September 29, 2011

Luke 9.44-50

Amid the general wonder and admiration at all he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, "What I now say is for you. The son of Adam is going to be given up into the power of men."

But they did not understand what he said; it had been hidden from them so they should not perceive its drift; and they were afraid to ask him what it meant.

A dispute arose among them: which of them was the greatest?

Jesus knew what was passing in their minds, so he took a child by the hand and stood him at his side, and said, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me receives the One who sent me. For the least among you all-- He is the greatest."

"Master," said John, "we saw a man casting out devils in your nam, but as he was not one of us we tried to stop him."

Jesus said to him, "Do not try to stop him, for he who is not against you is on your side."


At 9:58 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

Who is it, disputing "Who is the greatest of us?"

I don't think so. After Jesus is gone, and "the church" starts operating without him, then is the time for supporters of one faction or another to clap for their guy.

With Jesus there-- even Jesus being ignored because he's stopped making sense and has started scaring them-- The dispute is going to be more along the lines of, "Who's in charge here?"-- Isn't it? But as long as he's present, everyone knows that he'll take charge any time he sees the need. Even if they've started thinking they can't count on him, they know they'll all jump whenever he says-- and none of them can do that.

I'm used to seeing the last part translated as "Anyone who isn't against us is for us" in this gospel, and "Anyone who isn't for us is against us" in other gospels. I like this one better.

But doesn't this last dispute say something about churches-- and their ideas about who "belongs" vs who's "outside"?

At 9:49 p.m., Blogger Random Arrow said...

Again, more excellent comments. A new insight for me. It feels correct. That ‘greatest’ means ‘in charge.’ Makes sense. I hadn’t considered it.

On the two sayings with polar valences – I’ve always tried to imagine contexts. As if both sayings are true. And too much context is lost. It's not from desire to harmonize the synoptics. It’s likely contextual imagination and longings for settings run amuck asking for stuff we don’t have. I too like the spin in Luke!

I notice a painful irony here. The close juxtaposition makes me ask if Luke (whoever the author is) is a stylist of juxtaposition rather than chronology. The disciples themselves in the previous passage cannot cast out a demon. The disciples in this passage try to stop someone else who can!

A little Luke playing Voltaire?

Maybe the stylistic juxtaposition adds extra weight to the interpretation of – ‘who is in charge!’?

At 12:06 a.m., Blogger forrest said...

Mark seems to like this arrangement too. (Mark 9-9.40)


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