Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Luke 15 -- bad company

Once again, reading a familiar text in a new language can yield some delightful fresh impressions. For example, look at the first two verses of Luke 15:
Luk 15:1 Bütün vergi görevlileriyle günahkârlar İsa'yı dinlemek için O'na akın ediyordu.
Luk 15:2 Ferisiler'le din bilginleri ise, "Bu adam günahkârları kabul ediyor, onlarla birlikte yemek yiyor" diye söyleniyorlardı.
All the tax collectors and (other) sinners, Jesus to hear in order to, Him rushed upon. Let's look at the dictionary definition of the highlighted word:

akın raid. foray. rush. afflux. exodus. flow. incursion. inflow. influent. influx. inroad. inrush. invasion. irruption. razzia. spate.
akın exodus. flow. foray. incursion. influx. inroads. invasion. raid. tide. rush. inroad.
akın raid. assault. storm. rush. run. incursion. influx. inroad. invasion.

OK, so a guy is known by the company he keeps. After all, as the old English cliche asserts, "Birds of a feather, flock together." So, the upright, uptight, upstanding members of the community justifiably wonder, "Why do those kind of people want to hang around with this so-called preacher?"

You know, that's a good question. Jesus is getting mobbed. People are crowding around him, wanting to get close to him, wanting to soak up something about him. A lot of preachers would love to have that kind of response, and resort to all kinds of (sometimes) underhanded and manipulative techniques to draw a crowd. Maybe these "teachers of the law" are suffering professional jealousy. Jesus doesn't even seem to be trying very hard -- yet his charisma, his magnetic personality, summons up an audience wherever he goes.

So, a case of "sour grapes" sets in. A lot of these folks are the riffraff, the outcasts, the kind of people who would never darken the door of the local synagogue. "If that's the kind of crowd you draw, you're welcome to them."

Jesus, however, sees the value even in these lost and lowest. The remainder of the chapter uses the stories of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son to describe God's care for all of His own -- even those we are too inclined to write off[1] as unsalvageable.


[1] To "write off" something is a term from the accounting profession. A loan or some other asset is considered to be irretrievably gone. So you subtract its value from the balance sheet, and cease worrying about it. This term also demonstrates the English habit of merging two words to create a totally new verbal unit. One example Mario Pei gave is "call girl."

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