Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Friday is for Friends

posted by xscot mcknight

Klyne Snodgrass, in Stories with Intent, turns to a chp on “parables of lostness” and it begins with the parable of the lost sheep.

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 ?Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ?Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.? 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Here’s my own question: Why do you think, when the meaning of a parable is relatively clear and easy to interpret, we have such a difficult time living it out? (As is the case with this parable; easy to see, hard to do.)
This parable, with its twin lost coin, is a prelude to the parable of lost son. The parable is an interrogative parable.
On “background” — some good stuff from the OT and NT; nice collection of stuff form Qumran and early Christian writings and later Jewish writings. (I can’t cite this stuff; this section alone will save preachers and students oodles of leg work.)
He then compares Matthew 18′s account with Luke 15; “relatively little in common.” Two independent accounts of the same parable. He’s got good common sense about whether or not the parable is a chiasm — repetition in inverse order — and he thinks one needs to stretch the evidence to find it; and today many are prone to find chiasms everywhere, and more often than not the interpreter has to use his or her own words to make it work.
The code of not associating with sinners is written into the fabric of the parable; shepherding was a despised trade; good size flock for the shepherd; lost sheep give up and don’t try to find their way back, perhaps explaining why the shepherd has to carry the sheep.
Meaning: the act of the shepherd, though odd, is not absurd; this is not the point of the parable. I like this: “This parable does not care about any of these questions.” There is some allusion to Ezek 34 and only maybe Ps 23. Bailey overdoes it.
The point is the deliberate association of Jesus with sinners. God is at work through Jesus to forgive and restore his people. God is a forgiving, gracious God. Repentance is the act of humans in response to God’s grace. The parable also has joy as a theme.
“God is not passive, waiting for people to approach him after they get their lives in order. He is the seeking God who takes the initiative to bring people back, regardless of how ‘lost’ they are.”
Jesus’ behavior, grounded in God’s, is at variance with the religious experts. Potent deconstruction of religion that does not work out the very character of God in relationship to those who are sinners.
How can we let our behavior be more shaped by God’s?



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Luke

posted March 14, 2008 at 12:47 am


Good stuff! I have Snodgrass’ book and have utilized it for a paper I wrote for a Gospels class. I think it is absolute gold. I hear you about Bailey. I am a big fan of him, but he certainly overdoes the whole chiasm thing and at times he seems to look way too much into the details and parallel texts. He is still excellent on cultural information and background studies nonetheless. His new book is quite good (though his scholarship seems to be lacking at times, using BAGD instead of BDAG, believing the woman caught in adultery is authentic to John 8, reading too much into the Greek text and going against BDAG with certain constructions, using modern day Middle Eastern culture as a parallel to what it was 2000 years ago, drawing a chiasm for every pericope he mentions, etc), but I still love it and have learned immensely from it.
Praise God that Jesus seeks those who are lost. I sure am glad he found me! I totally agree about the repentance issue, but it’s quite common for others to believe that God gives us repentance…it seems as if he does it for us, it’s a gift he gives us, we can’t do it in and of ourselves,etc. This is pretty common reformed stuff, but the few ambiguous proof-texts used to defend this view certainly falls up short to the evidence in virtually ALL narrative material. What are some thoughts regarding that?



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RJS

posted March 14, 2008 at 5:57 am


Who is Bailey? And what is BAGD or BDAG?



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Richard

posted March 14, 2008 at 5:59 am


Friends, perhaps the saved and lost sheep parable is telling us that the rejoicing in what Jesus is doing is greater than in what He has done.



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Scot McKnight

posted March 14, 2008 at 6:10 am


RJS,
Bailey is Kenneth Bailey, a former missionary who wrote on Luke’s parables and who sometimes reads into the parables contextual clues that many others don’t find. BAGD is Baur-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker’s famous NT Greek Lexicon.



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Bob Brague

posted March 14, 2008 at 7:35 am


Thanks once again, RJS, for asking the questions I want to ask before I ask them. :) JesusCreed is my favorite website, but sometimes Scot and Scot’s friends just seem to be “preaching to the choir” of fellow professors and seminary students. Please, guys, remember that some of us out here are “real” people (in the sense of Velveteen Rabbit) who don’t know Bailey from Barnum or BAGD from WTF (sorry, it’s a crude acronym, but maybe it’ll help you get my point).
Back to the subject of the parables, the lost sheep couldn’t find itself, the lost coin couldn’t find itself, but at least the lost son “came to himself” and decided to go back home. Helmut Thielicke calls the story of the prodigal son the story of the waiting father, but even that isn’t entirely true, because when the son was still a long way off the father ran to meet him, and as soon as the son began his rehearsed speech the father wouldn’t let him finish it and called for a ring and a robe and shoes and the killing of the fatted calf.
I guess I’m getting ahead of the story. I’m looking forward to this series.



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Bob Brague

posted March 14, 2008 at 7:38 am


/off-topic on
Why are the time stamps in Pacific time? I’m in Eastern. Scot’s in Central.
/off-topic off



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Bob Brague

posted March 14, 2008 at 7:42 am


Actually, the time stamps seem to be in Mountain, not Pacific, time. Denver, Albuquerue, Laramie et al. What gives?



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Bob Brague

posted March 14, 2008 at 7:44 am


Albuquerque



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John Frye

posted March 14, 2008 at 7:53 am


In a shameless move of self promotion I ask you all to read my *updated version* of the lost son title “Jesus and the Red Corvette over at…
http://www.jesustheradicalpastor.com



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Dave

posted March 14, 2008 at 8:51 am


Scot,
Have you heard or does Snodgrass mention the perspective from these parables as the “lostness” referring to our “lost” understanding of God? If “the point is the deliberate association of Jesus with sinners” could this understanding of Jesus be what is “lost” among the original hearers of these parables?



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discokvn

posted March 14, 2008 at 8:57 am


The question that keeps coming to mind as i read these three stories is this: in the first the shephard leaves the rest and searches; in the second, the woman lights, sweeps and searches; but in the third the father watches and waits…
why the change? is there a different point to the third? does wisdom dictate when we are to leave and search vs. watching and waiting?
as a culture, having had the lost son story pounded into our heads, are we more prone to watching and waiting (expecting the lost to come to us?) vs. leaving and searching?



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John Frye

posted March 14, 2008 at 10:22 am


discokvn,
I think your question raises the idea that every detail in the three linked parables can’t be pressed for interpretive meaning. It seems the overriding similarity is the JOY of finding. What do you think?



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Bob Brague

posted March 14, 2008 at 12:15 pm


It occurs to me that when the shepherd realized that the sheep is lost, he did what was necessary to get it back, and when the the woman realized that the coin was lost, she did what was necessary to get it back, and when the son realized that the bounty of his father’s house (bread enough and to spare) is what he had lost, he also did what wa necessary. His father’s house isn’t going to come to him, but he can go back to his father’s house, and throw himself on the mercy of his father. And that’s what he finds, though not in the way he expected: the love and mercy of his father.
The father had not just lost his son (rejoice with me!), but the son had also lost his father.
Suddenly the third story doesn’t seem so different from the other two.



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Bob Brague

posted March 14, 2008 at 12:16 pm


John Frye beat me to it while I was writing!



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