The signs (Lk 21:25-21:25)

“There will be signs

In the sun,

The moon,

And the stars.

On the earth,

There will be

Anxious distress

Among the nations

With the roaring noise

Of the sea

And the swelling waves.”

 

Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα ἐν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ ἄστροις, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ ἤχους θαλάσσης καὶ σάλου,

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that there would be signs (Καὶ ἔσονται σημεῖα) in the sun (ἐν ἡλίῳ), in the moon (αὶ σελήνῃ), and in the stars (καὶ ἄστροις).  On the earth (καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), there would be anxious distress among the gentile nations (συνοχὴ ἐθνῶν ἐν ἀπορίᾳ) because of the roaring noise of the sea (ἤχους θαλάσσης) and the swelling waves (καὶ σάλου).  This was a unique use of the term ἀπορίᾳ that means perplexity, anxiety, or doubt, not found elsewhere in the Greek biblical literature.  This Jesus saying is similar to Matthew, chapter 24:29, that is actually closer to Mark, chapter 13:24-25.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that in those days (Ἀλλὰ ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις), after the sufferings (μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The assumption was that the moon had its own source of light, not merely a reflection of the sun.  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες ἔσονται ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ πίπτοντες).  Matthew indicated that Jesus said that immediately after the sufferings mentioned earlier in those days (Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων), there would be a cosmic upheaval.  The sun would be darkened (ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται).  The moon would not give its light (καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς).  The stars would fall from the skies (καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  This is fully in line with the great Israelite prophetic tradition of the Day of Yahweh, like Ezekiel, chapter 32:7, Joel, chapter 2:10, Amos, chapter 8:9, and Zephaniah, chapter 1:15.  Luke did not have the details that were in Mark and Matthew.  What kind of cosmic upheaval do you expect at the end times?

The father embraces the son (Lk 15:20-15:20)

“Thus,

The prodigal son

Set off.

He went

To his father.

But while he was

Still far off,

His father saw him.

He was filled

With compassion.

He ran to him.

He put his arms

Around him.

He kissed him.”

 

καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ. ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, καὶ δραμὼν ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν.

 

This long parable story about the prodigal son can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that this prodigal son set off to go to his father (καὶ ἀναστὰς ἦλθεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα ἑαυτοῦ).  While he was still far away (ἔτι δὲ αὐτοῦ μακρὰν ἀπέχοντος), his father saw him (εἶδεν αὐτὸν ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ).  He was filled with compassion (καὶ ἐσπλαγχνίσθη).  He ran to him (καὶ δραμὼν).  He put his arms around him or fell upon his neck (ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τὸν τράχηλον αὐτοῦ) and he kissed him (καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν).  In case there was any doubt, the father was going to accept the prodigal sinning son without any conditions.  There was not even an “I’m sorry!” from the son.  This compassionate father ran out to embrace him before he even got close to their house.  Obviously, he was out in the fields working.  Do you feel closer to the wasteful repentant prodigal son or the compassionate forgiving father?

Baptism with the Holy Spirit (Lk 3:16-3:16)

“He will baptize you

With the Holy Spirit

And fire.”

 

αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 3:11, Mark, chapter 1:8, and John, chapter 1:33.  Luke indicated that John said that this mightier one to come was going to baptize them with the Holy Spirit (αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ) and fire (καὶ πυρί).  Matthew and Luke, mentioned fire with the Holy Spirit, but Mark did not.  The role of the Holy Spirit seemed important because he was going to use purifying fire in the baptismal washing.  There was a clear difference between the baptism of John with water for repentance and that of the later Christians with or in the Holy Spirit.  Perhaps there was some doubt among the early followers of Jesus about the role of baptism.

They did not believe Mary (Mk 16:11-16:11)

“But when they heard

That he was alive,

And had been seen

By Mary Magdalene,

They would not believe it.”

 

κἀκεῖνοι ἀκούσαντες ὅτι ζῇ καὶ ἐθεάθη ὑπ’ αὐτῆς ἠπίστησαν.

 

This long ending of Mark is the only text to indicate that there was some doubt about the resurrection of Jesus, although Matthew, chapter 28:17, indicated some doubt on the part of the apostles.  John, chapter 20:24-29, had the doubting Thomas story.  Here, the text said that when they heard that Jesus was alive (κἀκεῖνοι ἀκούσαντες ὅτι ζῇ), and had been seen by Mary Magdalene (καὶ ἐθεάθη ὑπ’ αὐτῆς), they would not believe it (ἠπίστησαν).  They had some skepticism about this story about the risen Jesus, perhaps because Mary Magdalene, a woman, was bringing them this news.

Faith can move mountains (Mk 11:23-11:23)

“‘Truly!

I say to you!

If you say

To this mountain.

‘Be taken up!

Be thrown

Into the sea!’

If you do not doubt

In your heart,

But believe

What you say

It will come to pass,

It will be done

For you.’”

 

ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ Ἄρθητι καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ μὴ διακριθῇ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἀλλὰ πιστεύῃ ὅτι ὃ λαλεῖ γίνεται, ἔσται αὐτῷ.

 

This Jesus saying about faith can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:21, somewhat similar to this in Mark.  Mark said that Jesus answered with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) about the importance of faith.  If they had faith, they could move mountains.  They could tell a mountain (ὅτι ὃς ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ) to be lifted up or taken away (Ἄρθητι) and thrown into the sea (καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  If they did not doubt it in their hearts (καὶ μὴ διακριθῇ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ), but believed what they said (ἀλλὰ πιστεύῃ ὅτι ὃ λαλεῖ γίνεται), it would happen or take place or come to pass for them (ἔσται αὐτῷ).

Herod feared John (Mk 6:20-6:20)

“Herod feared John.

He knew

That John

Was a righteous

And holy man.

He protected John.

When he heard him,

He was greatly perplexed.

Yet he liked

To listen

To him.”

 

ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τὸν Ἰωάνην, εἰδὼς αὐτὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον καὶ ἅγιον, καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν, καὶ ἀκούσας αὐτοῦ πολλὰ ἠπόρει, καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν.

 

This mention of Herod being afraid of John the Baptist can be found in Matthew, chapter 14:5, and here.  In Matthew, Herod was afraid of the large crowds that regarded John as a prophet.  Here, however, King Herod is more seriously confused.  Mark said that Herod also feared John (ὁ γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ἐφοβεῖτο τὸν Ἰωάνην).  However, he was not afraid of the crowds, but because he knew that John was a righteous and holy man (εἰδὼς αὐτὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον καὶ ἅγιον).  Herod was protecting or keeping John safe (καὶ συνετήρει αὐτόν).  When he heard John (καὶ ἀκούσας αὐτοῦ), he was greatly perplexed or in doubt (πολλὰ ἠπόρει).  Yet he liked to gladly listen to him (καὶ ἡδέως αὐτοῦ ἤκουεν).

The baptism of water and the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:8-1:8)

“I have baptized you

With water.

But he will baptize you

With the Holy Spirit.”

 

ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι, αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:11, are very similar in their description of John the Baptist speaking about baptism.  Mark said that John proclaimed that he was baptizing them with water (ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι).  However, the one to come would baptize them (αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς) with or in the Holy Spirit (Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ).  Matthew added that the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire (πυρί).  Even though there is no mention of fire here in Mark, Luke, chapter 3:16, said that the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire also.  The role of the Holy Spirit seemed important.  There was a clear difference between the baptism of John and that of the later Christians with or in the Holy Spirit, as if there was some doubt among the earlier followers of Jesus.