Was John the Christ Messiah? (Lk 3:15-3:15)

“The people

Were filled

With expectations.

All were wondering

In their hearts

Concerning John.

Was he perhaps

The Christ,

The Messiah?”

 

Προσδοκῶντος δὲ τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ διαλογιζομένων πάντων ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν περὶ τοῦ Ἰωάνου, μή ποτε αὐτὸς εἴη ὁ Χριστός,

 

This question about John the Baptist being the Messiah can be found in John, chapter 1:25, where the Pharisees asked this question.  Here Luke said that the people were full of expectations (Προσδοκῶντος δὲ τοῦ λαοῦ).  All were questioning or wondering in their hearts concerning John (καὶ διαλογιζομένων πάντων ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν περὶ τοῦ Ἰωάνου).  Was he perhaps the Christ, the Messiah (μή ποτε αὐτὸς εἴη ὁ Χριστός)?  In other words, the question was not explicitly stated, but only thought about.  They were wondering if John the Baptist, the son of Zechariah, was the expected Messiah or Christ.

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Beware children of Abraham! (Lk 3:8-3:9)

“Bear fruits

Worthy of repentance!

Do not begin

To say to yourselves!

‘We have Abraham

As our ancestor!’

I tell you!

‘God is able

From these stones

To raise up children

To Abraham.

Even now,

The ax is lying

At the root of the trees.

Every tree

That does not bear

Good fruit

Is cut down

And thrown

Into the fire.’”

 

ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας· καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ· λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ.

ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται· πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.

 

Here is the first of the sayings from the so-called Q source.  Both Matthew, chapter 3:9-10, and Luke here have the exact same wording in their presentations of John’s preaching to the people.  Instead of just the Pharisees and Sadducees, Luke has John address this to all the people coming to be baptized.  This saying emphasized deeds, rather than relying on ancestry.  They were to produce fruit that was worthy of repentance (ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας).  They had to perform good deeds.  They should not presume that because they have had Abraham as their father, as the privileged chosen ones (καὶ μὴ ἄρξησθε λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς Πατέρα ἔχομεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ), that all would go well for them.  Then John pointedly said to them (λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν) that God had the power (ὅτι δύναται ὁ Θεὸς) to change stones and rocks into the children of Abraham (ἐκ τῶν λίθων τούτων ἐγεῖραι τέκνα τῷ Ἀβραάμ), a Hebrew play on words that was translated into Greek.  The axe was already lying at the foot of the trees, ready to go to work (ἤδη δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀξίνη πρὸς τὴν ῥίζαν τῶν δένδρων κεῖται).  Every tree that was not bearing or producing good fruit would be cut down (πᾶν οὖν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται).  Then they would be thrown into the fire (καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται).

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 led Jesus to a Jewish assembly (Mk 14:53-14:53)

“They took Jesus

To the high priest.

All the chief priests,

The elders,

And the Scribes

Were assembled.”

 

Καὶ ἀπήγαγον τὸν Ἰησοῦν πρὸς τὸν ἀρχιερέα, καὶ συνέρχονται πάντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:57, but there is no mention of the house of Caiaphas here as there was in Matthew.  In Luke, chapter 22:54, Jesus was simply brought to the high priest’s house, which would have been Caiaphas.  In John, chapter 18:13-14, they brought Jesus to the house of the father-in-law of Caiaphas, Annas, who had been the high priest of Jerusalem from 6-15 CE, before he was removed by the Romans at the age of 36, even though he lived to the age of 61.  Thus, he had a lot of influence on things.  John remarked that Caiaphas had said it was better for one person to die for the people.  Caiaphas was the high priest from 18-36 CE since he had married the daughter of Annas.  Mark simply said that they took Jesus to the high priest (Καὶ ἀπήγαγον τὸν Ἰησοῦν πρὸς τὸν ἀρχιερέα), without mentioning his name or saying it was his house.  Apparently, the chief priests (οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς), the elder presbyters (καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι), and the Scribes (καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς) had all gathered or assembled there (καὶ συνέρχονται πάντες).  Was this an official meeting of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin?  Probably not, because these official meetings could not be held during the festival days or during the Passover.  On the other hand, some kind of informal meeting was possible.  However, there was no mention of any Pharisees or Sadducees being there either.

Judas came with a group of people (Mk 14:43-14:43)

“Immediately,

While Jesus

Was still speaking,

Judas,

One of the twelve,

Arrived.

There was

A crowd

With him.

They had swords

And clubs.

They included

The chief priests,

The Scribes,

And the elders.”

 

Καὶ εὐθὺς ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος παραγίνεται ὁ Ἰούδας εἷς τῶν δώδεκα, καὶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ὄχλος μετὰ μαχαιρῶν καὶ ξύλων παρὰ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ τῶν γραμματέων καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων.

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 26:46.  Luke, chapter 22:47, is somewhat similar, but does not mention the Jewish religious groups.  John, chapter 18:2-3, is more detailed, since he mentioned the police and a detachment of soldiers, as well as the Pharisees.  Mark said that immediately as Jesus was still speaking (Καὶ εὐθὺς ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος), Judas, one of the 12 apostles, arrived on the scene (παραγίνεται ὁ Ἰούδας εἷς τῶν δώδεκα).  He had with him a large crowd of people (καὶ μετ’ αὐτοῦ ὄχλος) with swords (μετὰ μαχαιρῶν) and clubs (καὶ ξύλων).  Mark seems to indicate that the chief priests (παρὰ τῶν ἀρχιερέων), the Scribes (καὶ τῶν γραμματέων) and the elders or presbyters (καὶ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων) were there, while Matthew had these religious leaders sending the crowd.  Apparently, these leaders were expecting some resistance from Jesus and his followers.  Thus, they had a large armed group of people with Judas.  In John’s more descriptive account, Judas knew where to find Jesus because they had often been there at this place.  He said that they also brought lanterns and torches.  Mark and the other gospel writers never mentioned the Sadducees, while only John mentioned the Pharisees, and Mark was the only one to mention the Scribes.

Watch what the Scribes do (Mk 12:40-12:40)

“The Scribes devour

Widows’ houses.

For the sake of appearance,

They say long prayers.

They will receive

The greater condemnation.”

 

οἱ κατεσθίοντες τὰς οἰκίας τῶν χηρῶν καὶ προφάσει μακρὰ προσευχόμενοι, οὗτοι λήμψονται περισσότερον κρίμα.

 

Next Mark talked about how these Scribes took advantage of widows and pretended to be men of prayer.  Something similar can be found in Luke, chapter 20:47, but not in MatthewMark indicated that Jesus said that these Scribes devoured widows’ houses.  What did he mean by that?  They obviously took advantage of the generosity of widows.  For the sake of appearances, these Scribes said long prayers.  Thus, they would receive a great severe condemnation for their behavior.  Once again, there was no mention of any Pharisees, just the Scribes.

Beware of the Scribes (Mk 12:38-12:39)

“As Jesus taught,

He said.

‘Beware of the Scribes!

They like

To walk around

In long robes.

They like

To be greeted

With respect

In the market places.

They like

To have the best seats

In the synagogues.

They like

To have the places

Of honor

At banquets.’”

 

Καὶ ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ αὐτοῦ ἔλεγεν Βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῶν γραμματέων τῶν θελόντων ἐν στολαῖς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀσπασμοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς

καὶ πρωτοκαθεδρίας ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καὶ πρωτοκλισίας ἐν τοῖς δείπνοις·

 

There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 23, who had a much longer diatribe against the Scribes and the Pharisees.  Luke, chapter 20:46, also had something similar to this.  Mark indicated that as Jesus taught (Καὶ ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ), he told them to beware of the Scribes (ἔλεγεν Βλέπετε ἀπὸ τῶν γραμματέων), but there was no mention of the Pharisees.  These Scribes walked around in long robes (τῶν θελόντων ἐν στολαῖς περιπατεῖν).  They loved to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces (καὶ ἀσπασμοὺς ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς).  They loved the front seats in the assembly synagogues (καὶ πρωτοκαθεδρίας ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς).  They loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts (καὶ πρωτοκλισίας ἐν τοῖς δείπνοις),  They were the elite social butterflies.