In these ten chapters, Luke focuses on Jesus' teaching. We get a different version of the Lord's prayer, lots of back-and-forth with Pharisees/scribes/lawyers (essentially synonymous terms), some apocalyptic imagery - and fifteen, count 'em, fifteen parables! Nine of which are found only in Luke!
Shared with other gospels:
- the Thief in the Night [12:39-40]
- the Faithful Servant [12:42-46]
- the Banquet [14:15-26]
- the Lost Sheep [15:3-7]
- the Talents [19:11-27]
- the Tenants in the Vineyard [20:9-16]
In Luke only:
- the Watchful Servants [12:35-37]
- the Tower Builder [14:28-30]
- the King Preparing for War [14:31-32]
- the Lost Coin [15:8-10]
- the Prodigal Son [15:11-32]
- the Dishonest Steward [16:1-9]
- the Rich Man and Lazarus [16:19-31]
- the Widow and the Judge [18:1-8]
- the Pharisee and the Tax Collector [18:9-14]
We talked about how to think about these odd little stories Jesus loves to tell: focus on the part that doesn't make sense, and let that force us to see what's happening from a different angle. Another tip is to try not to allegorize the story, but look for an analogy: if such and such, how much more would God? Remember the parable of the sower: who would toss seeds around like that? If this sower would be that liberal with his seeds, how much more would God be with God's love?
What then can you make of these? Some have always been conundrums to me - the Dishonest Steward (16:1-9), the Banquet, and even the Talents (which now uses pounds instead of talents as the monetary unit), have always left me feeling confused. But the center here is the sequence of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. I think these tales of joy at the finding of what was thought to be long gone - made pretty obvious in the first two, and seen particularly in the contrast between the attitudes of father and older brother in the latter - give us such a powerful picture of God's joy at the return of his people into his relationship. This picture outweighs some of the grumpier moments in these chapters for me, and provides the possibility of reading that joy into everything Luke has to offer, not just here, but right on through the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection. What do you think?