The Roman soldiers mock Jesus (Mt 27:28-27:30)

“They stripped Jesus.

They put a scarlet robe

On him.

They twisted

Some thorns

Into a crown.

They put it

On his head.

They put a reed

In his right hand.

They knelt

Before him.

They mocked him.

They said.

‘Hail!

King of the Jews!’

They spat

On Jesus.

They took the reed.

They struck him

On the head.”

 

καὶ ἐκδύσαντες αὐτὸν χλαμύδα κοκκίνην περιέθηκαν αὐτῷ,

καὶ πλέξαντες στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν ἐπέθηκαν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ κάλαμον ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ, καὶ γονυπετήσαντες ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ ἐνέπαιξαν αὐτῷ λέγοντες Χαῖρε, Βασιλεῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων,

καὶ ἐμπτύσαντες εἰς αὐτὸν ἔλαβον τὸν κάλαμον καὶ ἔτυπτον εἰς τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:17-19, but not in Luke.  In John, chapter 19:2-3, there is something similar.  Matthew said that these Roman soldiers stripped Jesus of his clothes (καὶ ἐκδύσαντες αὐτὸν).  They put a scarlet robe on him (κοκκίνην περιέθηκαν αὐτῷ), a Roman soldier’s tunic.  Thus, he might have looked like a king in a purple robe.  Then they twisted some thorns into a crown (καὶ πλέξαντες στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν).  They put this crown on his head (πέθηκαν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ) like a Roman laurel or gold crown.  They put a reed in his right hand (καὶ κάλαμον ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ) like a royal scepter.  Then these Roman soldiers knelt before him (καὶ γονυπετήσαντες ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ) as they mocked him, saying “Hail! King of the Jews (ἐνέπαιξαν αὐτῷ λέγοντες Χαῖρε, Βασιλεῦ τῶν Ἰουδαίων)!”  Then they spat on Jesus (καὶ ἐμπτύσαντες).  They took the reed from his hand (εἰς αὐτὸν ἔλαβον τὸν κάλαμον) and struck him on the head (καὶ ἔτυπτον εἰς τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ).  They were mocking this pretended king of the Jews.

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The sheep and the goats (Mt 25:32-25:33

“All the nations

Will be gathered

Before him.

He will separate people,

One from another.

Just as a shepherd

Separates

The sheep

From the goats,

He will place

The sheep

At his right hand.

He will place

The goats

At his left side.”

 

καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων, ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων,

καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ, τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων.

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that all the gentile nations would be gathered before him (καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη).  Then he would separate them from each other (καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων).  Just like a shepherd separated the sheep from the goats (ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων), he would place the sheep at his right hand (καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ).  Then he would place the goats at his left hand (τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων).  The divine judgment of Yahweh was a common biblical theme.  Here it is the Son of Man who judges everyone.  On the right side are the just righteous sheep, while on the left side are the wild or bad goats, a common generic theme.  Good is to the right, just as right-handed people are good.  Left-handed people are looked at with suspicion, as are left leaning policies.

The fall of Gog (Ezek 39:3-39:5)

“‘I will strike

Your bow

From your left hand.

I will make

Your arrows

Drop out

Of your right hand.

You shall fall

Upon the mountains

Of Israel.

You!

All your troops!

The people

That are with you!

I will give you

To the birds

Of prey

Of every sort.

I will give you

To the wild animals

To be devoured.

You shall fall

In the open field.

I have spoken.’

Says Yahweh God!”

Suddenly, after enticing Gog to attack the Israelite mountains, Yahweh struck back at him. Yahweh was going to knock the bow out of his left hand and, at the same time, he was going to have him drop the arrows from his right hand. Gog and his army were then going to fall in the mountains of Israel. Not just Gog, but all his troops and all the people with them would be given over to the birds of prey and the wild animals to be devoured in the open fields. There should be no doubt, because Yahweh God has spoken.

The king of Babylon chooses the way to go (Ezek 21:21-21:23)

“The king of Babylon

Stands

At the parting of the way,

At the fork

In the two roads.

He uses divination.

He shakes the arrows.

He consults the teraphim.

He inspects the liver.

Into his right hand

Comes the lot

For Jerusalem,

To set battering rams,

To call out

For slaughter,

For raising

The battle cry,

To set battering rams

Against the gates,

To cast up ramps,

To build siege towers.

But to them

It will seem

Like a false divination.

They have sworn

Solemn oaths.

But he brings

Their guilt

To remembrance,

Bringing about

Their captive.”

The king of Babylon stood at the fork in the road. He decided to use his forecasting skills of divination by shaking arrows, consulting the ancient household teraphim gods, and looking at sheep livers. Finally the lot of Jerusalem came into his right hand as he chose the road to Jerusalem. There he would call out for slaughter, raise the battle cry, set the battering rams against the gates, cast up ramps, and build siege towers. It might have seemed like a false divination for the people of Jerusalem. They had sworn solemn oaths. They had brought their guilt remembrance. They were about to be captured.

Cyrus the Anointed Messiah Christ (Isa 45:1-45:1)

“Thus says Yahweh

To his anointed,

To Cyrus.

I have grasped his right hand,

To subdue nations before him,

To strip kings of their robes,

To open doors before him.

The gates shall not be closed.”

Second Isaiah calls Cyrus the anointed one, in Hebrew the Messiah, or in Greek the Christ. This is the only reference of an anointed person or a messiah who was not an Israelite. Cyrus, the King of Persia from 559-530 BCE, more than two centuries after the lifetime of Isaiah, was really a favorite of both Yahweh and the author of Second Isaiah. Cyrus the Great created the largest empire in the world with present day Iran the last vestige of that empire as he took over many countries. Second Isaiah continually insisted that Yahweh was behind Cyrus as he is clearly the anointed one of Yahweh. Yahweh has grasped his right hand, so that he could subdue various nations. Yahweh would help Cyrus strip kings of their robes. He would open doors for him, since no gates would be closed to Cyrus.

The steadfast love of Yahweh (Ps 138:7-138:8)

“Even though I walk

In the midst of trouble,

You preserve me

Against the wrath of my enemies.

You stretch out your hand.

Your right hand delivers me.

Yahweh will fulfill his purpose for me.

Yahweh!

Your steadfast love endures forever!

Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

This short psalm ends with a beautiful expression of faith. David believed that even though he walked in the middle of trouble, Yahweh would protect him from his enemies. Yahweh would stretch out his right hand to deliver and save him. Yahweh would fulfill his promises with David because his steadfast love endures forever. David believed that Yahweh would not forsake the work of his hands.

Let me never forget Jerusalem (Ps 137:4-137:6)

“How could we sing Yahweh’s song

In a foreign land?

If I forget you,

O Jerusalem!

Let my right hand wither!

Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,

If I do not remember you,

If I do not set Jerusalem

Above my highest joy.”

The psalmist asked how he could sing a song about Yahweh when he was in a foreign land. If he had forgotten Jerusalem, his right hand should wither. His tongue should stick to the roof of his mouth. He was always going to remember Jerusalem as his greatest joy. He would never forget that wonderful place.