There appears to be some allusion to Israel’s wilderness wanderings in Luke 15. When Jesus eats with publicans and sinners, the scribes and Pharisees “grumble” about it, as Israel did in the wilderness. The complaint in both cases, moreover, centers on food ?Ethe lack of food in the wilderness and Jesus’ table companions in Luke 15. And when Jesus describes the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine sheep to search out the lost one, he says that the ninety-nine are in the “wilderness.” Perhaps it works this way: The Pharisees and scribes are rebellious Israel in the wilderness, grumbling about the “manna from heaven” that God is providing, the “feast of the kingdom” that is taking place in their midst, in the midst of the wilderness. I cannot think of a parallel to the shepherd’s search for the lost sheep, though. Is there some sense in which Yahweh ate with “sinners” in the wilderness? Did that provoke objection from Israel?

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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