The last breath (Mk 15:37-15:37)

“Then Jesus

Gave a loud cry.

He breathed his last.”

 

ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀφεὶς φωνὴν μεγάλην ἐξέπνευσεν.

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 27:50.  In Luke, chapter 23:46, Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying that he was commending his spirit into the hands of his Father.  In John, chapter 19:30, Jesus said that it was finished, after drinking the sour wine.  Mark has the simple comment that Jesus cried out with a loud voice again (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἀφεὶς φωνὴν μεγάλην).  Then Jesus breathed his last breath (ἐξέπνευσεν0.  Jesus had died on the cross.

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.

False testimony (Mk 14:56-14:57)

“Many gave

False testimony

Against Jesus.

Their testimony

Did not agree.

Some stood up.

They gave

False testimony

Against Jesus.”

 

πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἴσαι αἱ μαρτυρίαι οὐκ ἦσαν.

καί τινες ἀναστάντες ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 14:60.  However, this emphasis on witnesses and testimony was not in Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 18.  Mark said that many people gave false testimony against Jesus (πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ).  Their testimonies did not agree (καὶ ἴσαι αἱ μαρτυρίαι οὐκ ἦσαν).  Some people stood up (καί τινες ἀναστάντες) and gave these false testimonies against Jesus (ἐψευδομαρτύρουν κατ’ αὐτοῦ λέγοντες).  There is almost a redundancy in these remarks.  According to Jewish law in Deuteronomy, chapters 17:6 and 19:15, it took 2 witnesses to convict anyone.  This gathering sounds more like a trial than an informal meeting.  Not only were they seeking pseudo or false witnesses, the whole council meeting may have been illegal, since they were not allowed to meet during the festivals, including Passover.  This council included the elders or presbyters and the Scribes of Jerusalem, along with the priests and the high priests.  However, the dreaded Pharisees and Sadducees were not part of this council meeting.

They drank from the cup (Mk 14:23-14:23)

“Then Jesus took

A cup.

After giving thanks,

He gave it

To them.

All of them

Drank from it.”

 

καὶ λαβὼν ποτήριον εὐχαριστήσας ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἔπιον ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 26:27, and similar in Luke, chapter 22:17, but there it preceded the blessing of the bread.  Paul used almost the same wording in I Corinthians, chapter 11:25.  John, chapter 6:53-58, had Jesus preaching about eating and drinking the body and blood of the Son of Man.  Matthew and Mark agree that Jesus took a drinking cup (καὶ λαβὼν ποτήριον), assuming this cup was filled with wine.  After giving thanks or eucharistizing it (εὐχαριστήσας), Jesus gave them this drinking cup (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς).  Instead of telling them to drink from this cup, as in Matthew, Mark simply said that all of them drank from it (καὶ ἔπιον ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες).  This new developing Christian Eucharistic worship service used the Greek word “εὐχαριστήσας (giving thanks)” as it became the name of the Last Supper remembrance event.

 

This is my body (Mk 14:22-14:22)

“While they were eating,

Jesus took

A loaf of bread.

After blessing it,

He broke it.

He gave it

To them.

He said.

‘Take!

This is my body.’”

 

Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν Λάβετε· τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου.

 

This is almost word for word in Mathew, chapter 26:26, but in Luke, chapter 22:19, it has a little more elaboration.  Paul used almost the same wording in I Corinthians, chapter 11:23-24.  In John, chapter 6:35-58, Jesus was preaching about eating the flesh of the Son of Man, the bread of life, so that he does not have a Last Supper institution narrative.  Mark said that while they were eating (Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν) the Passover meal, Jesus took a loaf of bread (λαβὼν ἄρτον).  He spoke the blessing or blessed it (εὐλογήσας).  He broke it into pieces (ἔκλασεν).  Then he gave it to them (καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς).  He said (καὶ εἶπεν) that they should take (Λάβετε) this bread, because it was his body (τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου).  There was no mention of eating it here, as in Matthew.  This Eucharistic institution narrative may already have been in this stylized form at the time of the writing of this gospel.  There was no specific indication whether this was leavened or unleavened bread, just a loaf of bread.  However, if it was a Passover meal on the feast of the Unleavened Bread, the evident assumption would be that it was unleavened or “matzah” bread.  Clearly, this institution narrative has had a profound effect on further Christian Eucharistic sacramental theological development.

What is your authority? (Mk 11:28-11:28)

“They said to Jesus.

‘By what authority

Are you doing

These things?

Who gave you

This authority

To do them?’”

 

καὶ ἔλεγον αὐτῷ Ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ ταῦτα ποιεῖς; ἢ τίς σοι ἔδωκεν τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἵνα ταῦτα ποιῇς;

 

This questioning of the authority of Jesus can be found in Matthew, chapter 21:23, and Luke, chapter 20:2, almost word for word.  Mark said that these chief priests, Scribes, and elders asked Jesus (καὶ ἔλεγον αὐτῷ) by what authority was he doing all these things (Ἐν ποίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ ταῦτα ποιεῖς) in the Temple?  Who gave him his authority to do all these things (ἢ τίς σοι ἔδωκεν τὴν ἐξουσίαν ταύτην ἵνα ταῦτα ποιῇς)?  This seemed like a legitimate question since Jesus was not a Levitical priest or an ordained rabbi.  They wanted to know where he came from and what he was trying to do.

Peter responds (Mk 8:29-8:29)

The response of Peter can be found in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 16:16, Luke, chapter 9:20, and John, 6:69, but all slightly different.  The name of Peter is sometimes just Peter.  Are the Greek “Christ” and the Hebrew “Messiah” the same?  Matthew is the only one who had Peter say that Jesus was the son of the living God.  Matthew is also the only one that mentioned the special relationship that Peter had with his Father in heaven.  Peter gave a strong positive response in all four versions.  Mark said that Peter replied (ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Πέτρος) to the question of Jesus immediately.  He said that Jesus was the Christ (λέγει αὐτῷ Σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς) or the Messiah that they were expecting in Israel.  Matthew had Jesus respond to Peter, but that was not in Mark.  Peter, as the leader of this new group of Jesus followers, asserted this important belief about Jesus.  For the first time, Jesus is called the Christ, the Messiah.  Here Peter, in the name of the nascent Christian community, proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ.

Jesus blesses the loaves of bread (Mk 8:6-8:6)

“Then Jesus ordered

The crowd

To sit down

On the ground.

He took

The seven loaves.

After giving thanks,

He broke them.

He gave them

To his disciples

To distribute.

They distributed them

To the crowd.”

 

καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς· καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν, καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ

 

Matthew, chapter 15:36, has a similar statement about the thanksgiving, blessing, and the distribution of the 7 loaves of bread and fish.  Mark said that Jesus ordered or directed the crowd to sit down or recline on the ground (καὶ παραγγέλλει τῷ ὄχλῳ ἀναπεσεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), instead of earlier on the grass.  This was going to be like a large picnic.  Jesus took the seven loaves (καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἄρτους).  There is no mention of the fish here.  He gave thanks or eucharized them (εὐχαριστήσας) and then broke them apart (ἔκλασεν).  He gave them to his disciples to distribute (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν).  Then the disciples gave or set them up before the crowd (καὶ παρέθηκαν τῷ ὄχλῳ).  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness, but on a smaller scale.  Yet the word “thanksgiving” was used here instead of a “blessing” as at the earlier feeding of the 5,000 people in chapter 6:30-44.  This has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he gave thanks, blessed and broke the bread.  Otherwise, this process is very similar to the first multiplication of the loaves of bread.  However, Jesus did not look up to heaven here.  Jesus gave the food to his disciples, who in turn gave the food to the people in the crowd.

Jesus blessed and broke the bread (Mk 6:41-6:41)

“Taking

The five loaves

And the two fish,

Jesus looked up to heaven.

He blessed

And broke

The loaves.

He gave them

To his disciples

To set

Before the people.

He divided

The two fish

Among them all.”

 

καὶ λαβὼν τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν εὐλόγησεν καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς, καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν.

 

This is the only blessing miracle that is recorded in all four gospels, Matthew, chapter 14:19, Luke, chapter 9:16, and John, chapter 6:12, plus here.  The blessing of the bread and the fish is exactly the same in the synoptic gospels, but merely summarized in John.  This feeding of a large group of people harkens back to the Exodus story, chapter 16:1-36, about the manna and the quails in the wilderness.  Yet the blessing itself has almost a foretaste of the Eucharistic Last Supper of Jesus, when he blessed and broke the bread.  Mark said that Jesus took (καὶ λαβὼν) the 5 loaves (τοὺς πέντε ἄρτους) and the 2 fish (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας).  He looked up to heaven (ἀναβλέψας εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν).  He blessed them (εὐλόγησεν).  Then he broke up the loaves of bread into pieces (καὶ κατέκλασεν τοὺς ἄρτους).  He gave the loaves of bread to his disciples (καὶ ἐδίδου τοῖς μαθηταῖς).  They, in turn, set the broken pieces of bread or served them to the crowd (ἵνα παρατιθῶσιν αὐτοῖς).  Jesus also divided or shared the 2 fish among them all (καὶ τοὺς δύο ἰχθύας ἐμέρισεν πᾶσιν).  This almost sounds like a large later distribution of Holy Communion.

They bring the head of John the Baptist (Mk 6:27-6:28)

“Immediately,

The king

Sent a soldier

Of the guard.

He gave orders

To bring John’s head.

He went.

He beheaded him

In the prison.

He brought

His head

On a platter.

He gave it

To the girl.

Then the girl

Gave it

To her mother.”

 

καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ. καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ,

καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ, καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 14:10-11.  Mark said that King Herod immediately sent out one of his guard to be an executioner (καὶ εὐθὺς ἀποστείλας ὁ βασιλεὺς σπεκουλάτορα).  He commanded him to bring back the head of John the Baptist (ἐπέταξεν ἐνέγκαι τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ).  He sent his executioner guard to behead John in the prison at Machaerus, about 5 miles east of the Dead Sea.  This guard beheaded John in the prison (καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἀπεκεφάλισεν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ).  It is not clear whether they waited around for the head of John to come back.  Beheading was one of the ways to make sure a person was dead.  Then John’s head was brought on a platter or dish to Herod (καὶ ἤνεγκεν τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ πίνακι).  He then gave it to the girl (καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῷ κορασίῳ), who then gave it to her mother (καὶ τὸ κοράσιον ἔδωκεν αὐτὴν τῇ μητρὶ αὐτῆς), Herodias.  This was her revenge against John the Baptist, because he had criticized her marriage to Herod.  Off with his head!