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proclaim the kingdom of God'. 61 Another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but let me first take leave of those at my home'. 62 Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God'.

One disciple (or potential disciple) is recalled as requesting, 'Let me first go and bury my father'. But Jesus told him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead' (Matt. 8.21-22/Luke 9.59-60).69 The offensiveness of Jesus' reply has been much emphasized in recent years. To bury his father was one of the most elementary duties of a son; in Jewish custom (m. Ber. 3.1) it came before other fundamental religious duties like reciting the Jeremias draws attention to the implicit urgency: 'In Palestine, burial took place on the day of death, but it was followed by six days of mourning on which the bereaved family received expressions of sympathy. Jesus cannot allow so long a delay'.71 Bailey however suggests that an idiomatic usage has been misunderstood: 'the phrase "to bury one's father" is a traditional idiom that refers specifically to the duty of the son to remain at home and care for his parents until they are laid to rest respectfully': the delay might be considerable!72

A similar urgency is evident in the third saying included by Luke (9.6162): the would-be disciple is not even allowed to take leave of his family — in

69. The variation in detail between Matthew and Luke is what we might expect in oral retellings; contrast H. Fleddermann, 'The Demands of Discipleship Matt 8,19-22 par. Luke 9,57-60', in F. Van Segbroeck et al., eds., The Four Gospels 1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck (Leuven: Leuven University, 1992) 541-61, who is unwilling to distinguish performance/retelling/editing from composition. For Matt. 8.20/Luke 9.58 see below, §16.4b(4).

70. See particularly Hengel, Charismatic Leader 8-15; Sanders, Jesus and Judaism 25255. The offensiveness of the saying is a mark of its authenticity for both the Jesus Seminar (Funk, Five Gospels 161) and Ludemann (Jesus 326).

71. Jeremias, Proclamation 132.

72. See further K. E. Bailey, Through Peasant Eyes (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 1980) 26-27; cf, Buchanan, Jesus 86; see also §14.4h below.

striking contrast to Elisha (1 Kgs 19.20-21).73 Bailey again provides illumination from Middle Eastern culture: the request to 'take leave of assumed the normal propriety of asking parental permission before responding to Jesus. In denying the request, Jesus was in effect claiming higher authority than the father — a shocking response.74 An equivalent degree of commitment is called for in the saying which urges hearers (to strive) to enter through the narrow gate (into the kingdom/which leads to life) (Luke 13.24/Matt. 7.13-14).75

Jeremias also draws attention to the mission instruction, to 'exchange no greetings on the road' (Luke 10.4). 'This is a command which would be extremely offensive. In the East, greetings have a deeper significance than they do with us, because they have a religious meaning'. In Jesus' day it probably involved some ceremonial and consumed some time. The message of the kingdom cannot brook such delay (cf. 2 Kgs. 4.29).76 A similar note is struck in another of Luke's singly attested sayings: the threat of unexpected calamity makes the call to repent all the more urgent (Luke 13.3, 5).77 The weight which can be put on the latter sayings is not strong, but they are consistent with the urgency implicit in much of Jesus' kingdom teaching and in Matt. 9.59-60. And here as elsewhere there is no reason to set early church missionary enthusiasm against Jesus' imminent expectation as an either-or.

All four features, therefore, seem to have been characteristic of Jesus' mission call: to repent, to believe, and to follow, and to do so as a matter of urgent priority.

73. The reasons for the Jesus Seminar's rejection of Luke 9.62 as a word of Jesus are typical: 'Looking back (v. 62) suggests a social context in which group formation has already reached an advanced stage. ... In addition, the image corresponds to themes in the Hebrew Bible: Lot's wife is destroyed when she looks back (Gen. 19.26). . . . (It) does not quite fit Jesus' exaggerated way of putting things' (Funk, Five Gospels 317). The first reason reads more in than out, the second makes the typically arbitrary assumption that Jesus' followers, but not Jesus, could have been influenced by a biblical story like that of Lot's wife, and the conclusion can only be described as odd (contrast Ludemann, Jesus 326-27).

74. Through PeasantEyes 27-31.

75. Cited above, §8.5d. That the saying goes back to Jesus in some form is agreed by Perrin, Rediscovering 144-45, and Funk, Five Gospels 347.

76. Jeremias, Proclamation Fitzmyer notes that the instruction 'has also been interpreted not so much of haste as of dedication' {Luke 847), though evidently the effect would be the same. Despite its sole attestation by Luke, have no hesitation in including Luke 10.4b in Q {Critical Edition ofQ 164-65).

77. See above, chapter 12 n. 221. But urgency is not the same as rashness, as the Lukan parables on building a tower and going to war clearly indicate (Luke on which see Hultgren, Parables 137-45.

13.3. To Israel

To whom was the call directed? To the people as a whole, to groups, to individuals, to individuals as Israelites, or what? We have already noted some distinction between a call to repentance and trust broadcast more widely and a call to disci-pleship directed to particular individuals, though the talk of 'following' Jesus made the distinction somewhat less clear.78 But greater clarity is possible when we take seriously the recent recognition that Jesus entertained some hope for the restoration of Israel and directed his mission, in at least some measure, to that end.79

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