A great prophet (Lk 7:16-7:16)

“Fear seized

All of them.

They glorified God.

Saying.

‘A great prophet

Has arisen among us!

God has looked favorably

On his people!’”

 

ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας, καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ.

 

Luke said that fear seized all the people (ἔλαβεν δὲ φόβος πάντας) there in Nain.  They glorified God (καὶ ἐδόξαζον τὸν Θεὸν).  They said that a great prophet had arisen among them (λέγοντες ὅτι Προφήτης μέγας ἠγέρθη ἐν ἡμῖν).  God had visited or looked favorably on his people (καὶ ὅτι Ἐπεσκέψατο ὁ Θεὸς τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ).  This was truly a shocking development.  The people of Nain were fear struck and felt privileged at the same time.  They began to praise God.  They called Jesus a great prophet like Elijah in 1 Kings, chapter 17:17-24, and Elisha in 2 Kings, chapter 4:32-37, who restored life to dead young people about 1,000 years prior.  This was a big deal.  Would you be afraid or amazed if you saw a dead man rise up from a casket?

The lepers at the time of Elisha (Lk 4:27-4:27)

“There were also many lepers

In Israel

At the time

Of the prophet Elisha.

None of them

Was cleansed,

Except Naaman,

The Syrian.”

 

καὶ πολλοὶ λεπροὶ ἦσαν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπὶ Ἑλισαίου τοῦ προφήτου, καὶ οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν ἐκαθαρίσθη εἰ μὴ Ναιμὰν ὁ Σύρος.

 

Luke then cited another unique story about the prophet Elisha, the prophet who followed Elijah in the 9th century BCE.  He too was well known for his exploits in the first 13 chapters of 2 Kings.  This episode was about Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army, who suffered from some kind of leprosy.  Naaman asked his king if he could go get a cure from a prophet he had heard about.  Elisha told the king to send Naaman to him so that he could cure him.  He told Naaman to wash himself 7 times in the Jordan River.  This made Naaman very upset.  Finally, he went and immersed himself 7 times in the Jordan River.  Thus, he was cured of his leprosy, as found in 2 Kings, 5:1-14.  Luke said that there were also many lepers (καὶ πολλοὶ λεπροὶ ἦσαν) in Israel (ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ) at the time of the prophet Elisha (ἐπὶ Ἑλισαίου τοῦ προφήτου).  None of them were cleansed (καὶ οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν ἐκαθαρίσθη), except Naaman, the Syrian (εἰ μὴ Ναιμὰν ὁ Σύρος).  Syrian and Aramean are almost the same.  The key idea was that someone other than an Israelite was cured.

He will be like Elijah (Lk 1:17-1:17)

“With the spirit

And power

Of Elijah,

He will go

Before the Messiah.

He will turn

The hearts

Of parents

To their children.

He will turn

The disobedient

To the wisdom

Of the righteous.

He will

Make ready

A people

Prepared for the Lord.”

 

καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία, ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων, ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον.

 

Luke then introduced the concept of Elijah to this new child. The role of Elijah can be found also in Mark, chapter 9:11, as well as in Matthew, chapter 17:11, where the disciples of Jesus asked him why the Scribes said that Elijah the prophet had to come first.  The prophet Malachi, chapter 4:5, had also foretold the coming of Elijah.  Malachi had said that Yahweh was going to send the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  Jesus did not disagree with this comment.  He responded by reiterating that Elijah was indeed coming to restore all things.  There was no doubt about the role of Elijah, a 9th century BCE northern Israel prophet, as in the Elijah cycle in 1 Kings, chapter 17-19.  He dominated late Jewish thought.  In Matthew, Jesus had a clear link of Elijah to John the Baptist, since he was the new Elijah.  Here Luke said that this child would precede or go first before the Lord (καὶ αὐτὸς προελεύσεται ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ).  He would have the spirit and the power of Elijah (ἐν πνεύματι καὶ δυνάμει Ἡλεία).  Then he would turn the hearts of parents to their children (ἐπιστρέψαι καρδίας πατέρων ἐπὶ τέκνα), as well as turn the disobedient ones into wise righteous ones (καὶ ἀπειθεῖς ἐν φρονήσει δικαίων).  He would prepare people to be disposed to get ready for the Lord (ἑτοιμάσαι Κυρίῳ λαὸν κατεσκευασμένον), by teaching about repentance and restoring families.  This child was going to be the forerunner for the Messiah, since all the prophets and the law had predicted this right up until the time of this child John.

Give him something to drink (Mk 15:36-15:36)

“Someone ran.

He filled a sponge

With sour wine.

He put it

On a stick.

He gave it

To Jesus

To drink.

Saying.

‘Wait!

Let us see

Whether Elijah

Will come

To take him down.’”

 

δραμὼν δέ τις καὶ γεμίσας σπόγγον ὄξους περιθεὶς καλάμῳ ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν, λέγων Ἄφετε ἴδωμεν εἰ ἔρχεται Ἡλείας καθελεῖν αὐτόν.

 

This is almost word for word in Mathew, chapter 27:48-49.  In Luke, chapter 23:36, there was an indication of a soldier who gave some sour wine to Jesus.  In John, chapter 19:28-29, Jesus said that he was thirsty before they gave him this sour wine that was standing nearby.  Mark said that someone ran to get a sponge (δραμὼν δέ τις).  He filled this sponge with sour wine or vinegar (καὶ γεμίσας σπόγγον ὄξους), a common Roman solder drink.  Then he put it on a stick or reed (περιθεὶς καλάμῳ) to give Jesus something to drink (ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν).  He said to wait and see if Elijah would come to take Jesus down from the cross (λέγων Ἄφετε ἴδωμεν εἰ ἔρχεται Ἡλείας καθελεῖν αὐτόν).  This sour wine or vinegar might have been a reference to Psalm 69:21, where the psalmist complained that they gave him vinegar to drink.  This sour wine or vinegar mixed with water might also have been an anesthetic to ease the pain of Jesus.  Thus, this action might have been an act of compassion for Jesus hanging on the cross.

The Son of Man must suffer (Mk 9:12-9:12)

“How then is it written

About the Son of man?

He is to go through

Many sufferings.

He will be treated

With contempt.”

 

καὶ πῶς γέγραπται ἐπὶ τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ἵνα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ ἐξουδενηθῇ;

 

This verse about the future sufferings of the Son of Man is unique to Mark.  Jesus said that it was written (καὶ πῶς γέγραπται) that the Son of man (ἐπὶ τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) would go through many great sufferings (ἵνα πολλὰ πάθῃ).  He would be despised or treated with contempt (καὶ ἐξουδενηθῇ).  Obviously, the Son of Man seemed to be tied in some way with Elijah.

Only Jesus was there (Mk 9:8-9:8)

“Suddenly,

When they looked around,

They saw no one

With them,

But only Jesus.’”

 

καὶ ἐξάπινα περιβλεψάμενοι οὐκέτι οὐδένα εἶδον ἀλλὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν.

 

This leaving of Moses and Elijah can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:8, Luke, chapter 9:36, and here in Mark.  Matthew was more elaborate than the others, so that there are some differences in all 3 accounts.  Suddenly or unexpectedly (καὶ ἐξάπινα) when they looked around (περιβλεψάμενοι), they no longer saw anyone (οὐκέτι οὐδένα εἶδον), but only Jesus himself alone with them (ἀλλὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν).  Where were Moses and Elijah?  Was this just a dream?

Peter wants to make three tents (Mk 9:5-9:5)

“Then Peter said

To Jesus.

‘Rabbi!

It is good for us

To be here!

Let us make

Three dwellings,

One for you,

One for Moses,

And one for Elijah.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πέτρος λέγει τῷ Ἰησοῦ Ῥαββεί, καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι, καὶ ποιήσωμεν τρεῖς σκηνάς, σοὶ μίαν καὶ Μωϋσεῖ μίαν καὶ Ἡλείᾳ μίαν.

 

These remarks of Peter can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:4, Luke, chapter 9:33, and here in Mark, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Mark said that Peter responded to Jesus (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πέτρος), once again as the leader of this small group of apostles.  He called Jesus “Rabbi” or “Teacher”, not like Matthew as “Lord” (λέγει τῷ Ἰησοῦ Ῥαββεί).  He said that it was good for them to be there (καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι).  Peter was going to set up 3 tents or dwellings here (καὶ ποιήσωμεν τρεῖς σκηνάς), one for Jesus (σοὶ μίαν), one for Moses (καὶ Μωϋσεῖ μίαν), and one for Elijah (καὶ Ἡλείᾳ μίαν).  Peter was really the builder.