Lectionary Year B
October 12, 2003
Step IV: Cross-Section
A. Primitive Christianity
(JFC) Matthew 19:16-30 and Luke 18:18-30 give parallels to this pericope. Matthew
25:46 finds Jesus saying, of the kingdom,". . . the righteous (will go) into eternal life." Of course, John 3:15 has Jesus declaring, "whoever believes in me has eternal life." And, in John 6:68 Simon Peter assures he believes of Jesus that, "You have the words of eternal life." Then in Jesus' "High Priestly Prayer" (John 17:2f) He prays, "give eternal life to all whom you (God) have given him (Jesus). And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." The Apostle Paul claims in I Corinthians 6:9 that "wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God" an in 15:50 that, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." Nor will sinners, according to Galatians 5:21, "inherit the kingdom of God." Acts 2:45 reports that the faithfully generous members of the earliest church "would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need." And, Jesus' love (verse 21) for other individuals is reported in John 11:5, where He is said to love Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Luke 12:33 records Jesus' telling the disciples to "sell your possessions and give alms" for "it is God's good pleasure to give you the kingdom", verse 32 says.
B. Old Testament and Judaism
(JFC) Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 are the OT addresses for the Ten
Commandments. "Obedience to the law is rewarded by God with life (e.g., Deut. 30:15f.; Ezek. 33:15)", according to (Craddock and Keck) Proclamation: Year B, Pentecost 3, 1976. Genesis 18, especially verse 14, reports God's appearing to Abraham to announce that the aging Sarah was to bear a child. There God asks, "Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?", not unlike "With God all things are possible" in our text's 27th verse. Job shared a similar faith, so declared in Job 42:2, as did Zechariah 8:6 state that God, even God, asked rhetorically, "Even though it seems impossible (the restoration of Jerusalem to be a peaceful city) to the remnant of this people in these days, should it seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts." Then from about 163-45, the "a single goal, then indeed the most great kingdom of the immortal king (God, surely?) will become manifest over men. For a holy prince (a Messiah?) will come to gain sway over scepters of the earth forever, as time passes on", Sibylline Oracles, 3:47-50. Next, from the first or second decade of the second century BCE, in 2 Baruch 38:4 Baruch says, "For you (God) know that my soul has always been associated with your Law, and that I did not depart from your wisdom from my earliest days." Like the wealthy man's claim in verse 20 of our text at hand and Peter's in verse 28.
C. Hellenistic World
(JFC) These thinkers might like the abbreviated debate between Jesus and the rich
man wondering what to "do to inherit eternal life". However, that man's emotional reaction to Jesus' full answer might well repulse them. They disliked emotions expressed. Still, they might resonate with Jesus' teaching tactics that used metaphors like "camels going through needles' eyes" and the wealthy persons' difficulty in entering God's Kingdom. And, they might very well approve of God's sovereignty affirmed in our text's 27th verse. Nevertheless, what would they do with the sacrifices called for in verses 28-31? Well, first century CE, 2 Enoch 50:5 says, "Let each one of you put up with the loss of [his] gold and silver on account of a brother, so that he my receive a full treasury in that age" and "stretch out your hands [to the needy] in accordance with your strength." Then, from 15 BCE to 50 CE, Philo wrote, in Life of Moses 1.31.174,"It is is (God's) special property to find a way where no way is. What is impossible to all created beings is possible to Him only, ready to his and." In the first century BCE and/or CE, the Testament of Job reports an angel promising Job, "repaid to you doubly, so that you may know that the Lord is impartial - rendering good things to each one who obeys."
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