Bear testimony (Lk 21:13-21:13)

“This will give you

An opportunity

To testify.”

 

ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν εἰς μαρτύριον.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that this persecution would give them an opportunity (ἀποβήσεται ὑμῖν) to testify as a witness or a martyr (εἰς μαρτύριον).  This verse is somewhat similar to Mark, chapter 13:10, with a hint of this in Matthew, chapter 24:14.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that the good news of the gospel (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον) must first be proclaimed (πρῶτον δεῖ κηρυχθῆναι) to all the gentile nations (καὶ εἰς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη).  That would be a difficult task, certainly putting the end times at a further distance.  This mission to the gentile nations was a trademark of the Gospel of Mark with its emphasis on the gentile non-Jewish Christians.  Matthew had the same idea in chapter 10:22, and also in chapter 24:14, where Jesus said that this gospel, this good news of the kingdom (τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας) would be preached (καὶ κηρυχθήσεται) throughout the whole inhabited world (ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ), as a witness or testimony to all the gentile nations (εἰς μαρτύριον πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν).  Then the end would come (καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος).  Matthew seemed to set a precondition before the coming of the end times that the gospel would be preached throughout the whole known world.  Luke was more restrained here simply saying that there was an opportunity to be a witness or martyr.  Would you be a Christian martyr?

They were willing to given Judas some money (Mk 14:11-14:11)

“When the chief priests

Heard it,

They were greatly pleased.

They promised

To give him money.

Thus,

Judas began

To look for

An opportunity

To betray Jesus.”

 

οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες ἐχάρησαν καὶ ἐπηγγείλαντο αὐτῷ ἀργύριον δοῦναι. καὶ ἐζήτει πῶς αὐτὸν εὐκαίρως παραδοῖ.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:15-16, and Luke, chapter 22:5-6, but only Matthew mentioned the exact amount of money, 30 silver pieces.  Mark said that when the chief priests heard Judas (οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες), they were pleased, happy, and rejoiced (ἐχάρησαν).  They promised to give him money (καὶ ἐπηγγείλαντο αὐτῷ ἀργύριον δοῦναι), with no exact amount mentioned here.  Judas then began to look for an opportunity to betray or hand over Jesus in a convenient manner (καὶ ἐζήτει πῶς αὐτὸν εὐκαίρως παραδοῖ).

The birthday of Herod (Mk 6:21-6:21)

“But an opportunity came

When Herod,

On his birthday,

Gave a banquet

For his noble courtiers,

His military officers,

And the prominent leaders

Of Galilee.”

 

Καὶ γενομένης ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου ὅτε Ἡρῴδης τοῖς γενεσίοις αὐτοῦ δεῖπνον ἐποίησεν τοῖς μεγιστᾶσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῖς χιλιάρχοις καὶ τοῖς πρώτοις τῆς Γαλιλαίας,

 

Mark has a long descriptive story about this birthday party of Herod.  Matthew, chapter 14:6-12, has a more summary statement about this party, while Luke made no mention of it.  Mark explained about the guests at this birthday party.  He said that an opportunity arose for a festival day (Καὶ γενομένης ἡμέρας εὐκαίρου) on the celebration of King Herod’s birthday (ὅτε Ἡρῴδης τοῖς γενεσίοις αὐτοῦ).  King Herod gave a banquet dinner (δεῖπνον ἐποίησεν) for his courtiers or noblemen (τοῖς μεγιστᾶσιν αὐτοῦ), his military officers or captains (καὶ τοῖς χιλιάρχοις), and the other prominent leaders of Galilee (καὶ τοῖς πρώτοις τῆς Γαλιλαίας).  Anybody who was of any importance in Galilee would have been there, since Herod was the tetrarch or so-called king of Galilee, under Roman rule.

Thirty pieces of silver (Mt 26:15-26:16)

“Judas said.

‘What will you give me

If I betray

Jesus to you?’

The chief priests

Paid him

Thirty pieces of silver.

From that moment on,

He began to look

For an opportunity

To betray him.”

 

εἶπεν Τί θέλετέ μοι δοῦναι, κἀγὼ ὑμῖν παραδώσω αὐτόν; οἱ δὲ ἔστησαν αὐτῷ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια.

καὶ ἀπὸ τότε ἐζήτει εὐκαιρίαν ἵνα αὐτὸν παραδῷ.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 14:11, and Luke, chapter 22:5-6, but there is no mention of the exact amount of money there.  Matthew said that Judas wanted to know what these chief priests were willing to give him (εἶπεν Τί θέλετέ μοι δοῦναι) if he betrayed or handed over Jesus to them (κἀγὼ ὑμῖν παραδώσω αὐτόν).  Matthew said that these chief priests paid him 30 pieces of silver (οἱ δὲ ἔστησαν αὐτῷ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια).  This Roman silver coin was worth about 4 denarii each, so that these silver pieces were worth about 120 denarii or about $180.00 US, not an unbelievable number, but still a substantial amount since one denarius was equivalent to a day’s wages.  From that moment on (καὶ ἀπὸ τότε), Judas began to look for an opportunity to betray Jesus (ἐζήτει εὐκαιρίαν ἵνα αὐτὸν παραδῷ).

The clever ones (Sir 19:23-19:30)

“There is cleverness

That is detestable.

There is a fool

Who merely lacks wisdom.

Better are the God-fearing

Who lacks understanding

Than the highly intelligent

Who transgresses the law.

There is cleverness

That is exact

But unjust.

There are people

Who abuse favors

To gain a verdict.

There is a villain

Bowed down in mourning.

But inwardly

He is full of deceit.

He hides his face.

He pretends not to hear.

But when no one notices,

He will take advantage of you.

Even if he lacks strength

It does not keep him from sinning.

He will nevertheless do evil

When he finds the opportunity.

A person is known

By his appearance.

A sensible person is known

When first met,

Face to face.

A person’s attire shows what he is.

His hearty laughter shows what he is.

The way he walks shows what he is.”

Sirach then attacks the clever ones with their cleverness, who are really detestable fools who lack wisdom. It is better to be a God fearing person without intelligence than an intelligent transgressor of the law. There are exacting clever people who are unjust. These clever people use the legal system to avoid a bad verdict. They pretend to bow down before you, but there is only deceit in their hearts. They pretend not to hear and not to care, until the right time comes along. Then they take advantage of you. Even if these clever fools are not strong, they will try to do as much evil as they can. They will find any opportunity to be wicked. Look at the appearances of people. See what clothes they are wearing. See how they laugh and walk. Thus you can spot these clever wicked fools.

Nicanor and Judas Maccabeus split (2 Macc 14:28-14:33)

“When this message came to Nicanor, he was troubled and grieved that he had to annul their agreement when the man had done no wrong. Since it was not possible to oppose the king, he watched for an opportunity to accomplish this by a stratagem. However, Maccabeus noticed that Nicanor was more austere in his dealings with him. He was meeting with him more rudely than had been his custom. Judas Maccabeus concluded that this austerity did not spring from the best motives. So he gathered not a few of his men, and went into hiding from Nicanor. When the latter became aware that he had been cleverly outwitted by the man, he went to the great and holy temple while the priests were offering the customary sacrifices. He commanded them to hand the man over. They declared on oath that they did not know where the man was whom he wanted. Then Nicanor stretched out his right hand toward the sanctuary. He swore this oath.

‘If you do not hand Judas Maccabeus over to me as a prisoner,

I will level this shrine of God to the ground.

I will tear down the altar.

I will build here a splendid temple to Dionysus.’”

Nicanor was troubled by the message that he got from King Demetrius I. He knew that Judas Maccabeus had not done anything wrong. At the same time, he realized that he could not oppose the direct order of the king. He was trying to figure out what to do. Judas Maccabeus noticed that Nicanor was not as friendly as before and even downright rude. He suspected Nicanor of bad motives, so he and some of his men went into hiding. When Nicanor found out about this, he went to the Temple where the priests were officiating at the sacrifices. He commanded the priests to turn over Judas Maccabeus to him. When they declared under oath that they did not know where he was, Nicanor stretched out his right hand and said that if they did not turn him over to him, he would level the Temple and the altar. In its place he would build a temple to the god Dionysus. Now this could be problem.

The intervention of the high priest Alcimus (2 Macc 14:3-14:5)

“A certain Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest but had willfully defiled himself in the times of separation, realized that there was no way for him to be safe or to have access again to the holy altar. He then went to King Demetrius in about the one hundred and fifty-first year, presenting to him a crown of gold and a palm. Besides these things he presented some of the customary olive branches from the temple. During that day he kept quiet. However, he found an opportunity that furthered his mad purpose when he was invited by Demetrius to a meeting of the council. He was asked about the attitude and intentions of the Jews.”

Once again, this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 7. There it was King Demetrius I who made Alcimus the high priest from 162-159 BCE. This Alcimus was also the leader of the renegades in 1 Maccabees. Here he already is the high priest since Menelaus had preceded him as the high priest in Jerusalem before his death in 162 BCE. He had presented the new king with gold and palm branches as well as olive branches from the Temple. He had been quiet during the day, but then he was invited to a meeting with King Demetrius I and his council who wanted to know about the attitude and intentions of the Jews.