Wednesday 20 June 2018

Bible Book:

“See, something greater than Solomon is here!” (v. 31)

Luke 11:27-36 Wednesday 20 June 2018

Psalm: Psalm 88


Today’s passage continues a discussion between Jesus and people in a crowd, which began in Luke 11:14-26. It is clear that some are supportive of Jesus and his ministry, while others seemingly oppose it (Luke 11:15). In this context, Luke’s Gospel records three relatively distinct teachings of Jesus, which were not necessarily originally related.

  • Verses 27-28 come in response to what we might call a ‘heckle’ from the crowd – albeit a supportive one! It seems to echo the greeting that Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, gave to Mary, the mother of Jesus, when they were both pregnant (Luke 1:42). However, Jesus deflects this spontaneous expression of praise away from himself and his family (as he does in Luke 8:19-21), and towards God.
  • Verses 29-32 concern a demand we find on numerous occasions in the Gospels for Jesus to perform a ‘sign’ to demonstrate his power (eg John 2:18). In the Gospels, signs have both a negative connotation (eg Matthew 24:24) and a more positive one (eg Luke 2:12). They are never meant to be an end in themselves, though, and Jesus refuses to act like a travelling wonder worker on demand. Instead, he cites two well-known Old Testament characters: Jonah (Jonah 1-4) and the queen of the South (or Sheba), who came to visit King Solomon (1 Kings 10). The exact meaning of these two examples is debated. It is possible, though, that Jesus is arguing that if Jonah and Solomon’s contemporaries recognised God speaking through them and changed their ways, then Jesus’ audience should recognise the Son of God himself and act accordingly. 
  • Verses 33-36 reflect ancient anatomical understandings. It was widely believed that instead of light entering the eye from outside, the eye emitted light in order to see, like “a lamp” (v. 34). There may be an element of wordplay in the original language here as well that we cannot fully understand in translation. It seems to echo Jesus’ teaching, recorded earlier in Luke 8:16-18, about seeking out the full light of revelation, and not trying to hide in the darkness.

To Ponder

  • Where do you think the line should be drawn between modesty and false modesty when accepting compliments?
  • What do you think the ‘sign of Jonah’ is here?
  • Jesus spoke to the crowd in today’s passage using contemporary understandings of how the human body worked. When understandings of science have moved on, how might we interpret such passages?
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