Jesus goes to the Roman palace courtyard (Mk 15:16-15:16)

“Then the soldiers

Led Jesus away

Into the courtyard

Of the palace.

That is

The governor’s headquarters,

The praetorium.

They called together

The whole cohort,

The battalion.”

 

Οἱ δὲ στρατιῶται ἀπήγαγον αὐτὸν ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς, ὅ ἐστιν Πραιτώριον, καὶ συνκαλοῦσιν ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 27:27, while Luke does not have this episode at the Roman headquarters.  Mark said that the Roman soldiers (Οἱ δὲ στρατιῶται) led Jesus (ἀπήγαγον αὐτὸν) into the courtyard of the Roman governor (ἔσω τῆς αὐλῆς).  Mark explained that it was called the praetorium (ὅ ἐστιν Πραιτώριον).  This governor’s headquarters or home of Pilate was the ancient palace of Herod the Great, who tried to have Jesus killed in the prologue of Matthew.  There they gathered a whole cohort or a battalion of about 500-600 Roman soldiers (συνκαλοῦσιν ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν).  The Jews were no longer in this scene around Jesus here, since the Romans had taken over.

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Release one prisoner (Mk 15:6-15:6)

“Now at the festival,

Pilate used to release

A prisoner

For them,

Anyone,

For whom they asked.”

 

Κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν ἀπέλυεν αὐτοῖς ἕνα δέσμιον ὃν παρῃτοῦντο.

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 27:15.  In John, chapter 18:39, there is something similar about the custom of releasing prisoners, but there is nothing in Luke about this custom.  Mark said that at the festival time (Κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν), the Roman governor used to release one of the many prisoners to the Jewish people (ἀπέλυεν αὐτοῖς ἕνα δέσμιον), usually not a criminal facing the death penalty.  This crowd could request the one that they wanted (παρῃτοῦντο), so that this kept the local folks happy.  It is not clear how much this custom took place.  Who would you ask for?

They deliver Jesus to Pilate (Mk 15:1-15:1)

“As soon as it was morning,

The chief priests

Held a consultation

With the elders,

The Scribes,

And the whole council.

They bound Jesus.

They led him away.

They handed him

Over to Pilate.”

 

Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ γραμματέων καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον, δήσαντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπήνεγκαν καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ  

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 27:1-2, except that Mark did not mention the decision to bring Jesus to death.  In Luke, chapter 23:1, everybody brought Jesus to Pilate.  In John, chapter 18:28, there was a long discussion of Pilate with the Jewish leaders, after they brought Jesus to Pilate.  However, they had to stay outside the Roman court, so as not to defile themselves during the Passover festival.  Mark said that as soon as it was early in the morning (Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ), after the all-nighter evening meeting at the house of the high priest of Jerusalem, the chief priests (οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) with the elders or presbyters (μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων) and the Scribes (καὶ γραμματέων) conferred together or came to a resolution (συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες).  All of this council, tribunal, or Sanhedrin (καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον) agreed.  They tied up or bound Jesus (δήσαντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν).  They led him away (ἀπήγαγον).  They delivered him or handed him over to Pilate (καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ).  Whether this was an official meeting or not, they did come up with a conclusion that they would hand Jesus over to the Roman governor of Judea.  Thus, Pilate had jurisdiction over death penalties, since Judea was within the Roman Empire.  Mark did not mention that Pilate was the governor, but this text just assumes that.  Who was this Pontius Pilate?  He was the rather cruel Roman ruler, prefect, or governor of Judea from 26-36 CE, the exact time frame of Jesus.  Interesting enough, a whole literature and artistic presentations of Pontius Pilate developed in the 20th century with movie and TV portrayals of him.  He was certainly a central figure in this presentation about the death of Jesus.

Conclusion: Passion, Resurrection and Great Commission

 

This gospel concluded with the events of the last week of Jesus, a main preoccupation of all four gospels.  Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph.  He held a last supper and prayed to be spared.  He was betrayed by Judas.  Then he was tried by the Jewish leaders and before The roman governor Pontius Pilate.  Jesus was crucified as king of the Jews and mocked by all.  At his death, there was an earthquake, when the veil of the Temple was cut in two, and the saints rose from their tombs.  Mary Magdalene and the other women discovered the empty tomb.  Jesus told them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

There was a plot to kill Jesus.  Jesus spoke to his disciples and gave his fourth prediction about the death of the Son of Man.  Then the chief priests and the elders gathered to plot the arrest of Jesus.  However, before that, there was an anointing by the unnamed women in Bethany as she poured oil on Jesus.  Others wanted to know why she was wasting oil.  Jesus said that she had done a good thing by anointing him for burial.  Thus, she would be remembered.  Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Then they made the preparations for the Passover.  Where would the Passover be?  There was a house for the Passover meal, as the disciples prepared for the Passover evening meal.  Jesus announced the betrayal.  Who would betray Jesus?  This betrayer would be cursed, as Judas spoke out.  At the Last Supper Eucharist, Jesus said that this was his body and blood with eschatological implications.

They went to the Mount of Olives.  Jesus predicted that the apostles would scatter.  He was going to go to Galilee.  Peter said that he would never desert Jesus.  Then Jesus warned Peter about his desertion, but Peter was adamant that he would never deny Jesus.

They went to Gethsemane as Jesus took his three favorite apostles.  He prayed to his Father while these apostles slept.  There was a second prayer of Jesus, as he came a second time to the sleeping apostles.  He prayed a third time.  Then Jesus woke them up.

Judas arrived and kissed Jesus, as they then seized Jesus.  Someone cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.  However, Jesus told them to put their swords away as the disciples fled.

Jesus went before Caiaphas the high priest, while Peter followed Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest.  They were looking for false testimony.  Finally, two witnesses came forward.  The high priest spoke and Jesus responded.  He called the words of Jesus blasphemy, as they mocked Jesus.  Peter’s denied Jesus three time and then he remembered Jesus’ words.

The elders and Pharisees planned to kill Jesus.  They would deliver Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor.  Meanwhile, Judas repented, but he hung himself.  He returned the pieces of silver to the Temple, but it was used to purchase a graveyard called the Field of Blood to fulfill a prophecy of Jeremiah.

Jesus went before Pilate as he asked him if he was the king of the Jews?  However, Jesus did not respond.  The governor was going to release one prisoner at the festival time.  However, the people wanted the prisoner Barabbas rather than Jesus.  Pilate got a warning from his wife.  Nevertheless, the crowd wanted to crucify Jesus.  Pilate claimed that he was innocent of his blood but the crowds said that his blood be on us.  Barabbas was then released.  Jesus went to the governor’s head quarters where the Roman soldiers mocked him.

They prepared Jesus for the crucifixion.  They got Simon of Cyrene to help with the cross as they went to Golgotha.  They divided his garments and wrote on the cross Jesus, King of the Jews.  There were two robbers who derided and and taunted Jesus, just like the Jewish religious leaders had mocked Jesus.

Darkness fell over the land as Jesus died.  The cry of Jesus was interpreted as a call to Elijah.  They gave him sour wine to drink.  Would Elijah save Jesus?  When Jesus died, the Temple curtain was torn in two.  Tombs opened and the dead rose and appeared in Jerusalem.  He truly was  the Son of God.

There were women from Galilee, especially the women called Mary.  Joseph of Arimathea got the body of Jesus and put it in his tomb as the women called Mary were vigilant.  Meanwhile, there was a gathering with Pilate, since the Jewish religious leaders wanted to have the tomb secure.  Thus, a custodial guard was set up at the tomb.

The two Marys visited the tomb, where there was another earthquake with an angel at the tomb.  The guards were afraid, but the angel speaks to the women to tell them to let the disciples know what happened.  The women left the tomb and Jesus appeared to them.  Meanwhile, the guards told the chief priests in Jerusalem what had happened.  These religious leaders paid the guards to tell everyone that someone stole the body of Jesus while they were sleeping.  Thus, this stolen body story spread.

After the resurrection, the remaining eleven disciples returned to an unnamed mountain in Galilee.  There the post-resurrection Jesus gave them authority in heaven and on earth with his great commission:  They were to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them with a Trinitarian formula.  They were to follow his commandments because Jesus would be with them until the end of time.

Pilate claims that he is innocent (Mt 27:24-27:24)

“Thus,

When Pilate saw

That he could do nothing,

But rather that

A riot

Was beginning,

He took some water.

He washed his hands

Before the crowd.

He said.

‘I am innocent

Of this man’s blood.

See to it yourselves!’”

 

ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Πειλᾶτος ὅτι οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον θόρυβος γίνεται, λαβὼν ὕδωρ ἀπενίψατο τὰς χεῖρας κατέναντι τοῦ ὄχλου λέγων Ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου· ὑμεῖς ὄψεσθε.

 

Once again, only Matthew has the Roman governor Pilate proclaim his innocence about the death of Jesus.  These comments of Pilate were not in any of the other gospel stories.  Matthew said that Pilate saw that he could do nothing (ἰδὼν δὲ ὁ Πειλᾶτος ὅτι οὐδὲν ὠφελεῖ).  He thought that this might be the beginning of a riot (ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον θόρυβος γίνεται).  He took some water (λαβὼν ὕδωρ) and washed his hands (ἀπενίψατο τὰς χεῖρας) before the crowd (κατέναντι τοῦ ὄχλου).  He proclaimed (λέγων) that he was innocent of this man’s blood (λέγων Ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου).  He told them to see to it themselves (λέγων Ἀθῷός εἰμι ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τούτου).  In fact, only the Roman governor, himself, could impose the death penalty of crucifixion.  This was another attempt by Matthew to show that the Romans were not responsible for the death of Jesus.

The governor was going to release one prisoner (Mt 27:15-27:15)

“Now at the festival time,

The governor

Was accustomed

To release

A prisoner

To the crowd,

Anyone whom they wanted.”

 

Κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν εἰώθει ὁ ἡγεμὼν ἀπολύειν ἕνα τῷ ὄχλῳ δέσμιον ὃν ἤθελον

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:6.  In John, chapter 18:39, there is something similar about the custom of releasing prisoners, but there is nothing in Luke about this custom.  Matthew and Mark said that at the festival time, the Roman governor had the custom (Κατὰ δὲ ἑορτὴν εἰώθει ὁ ἡγεμὼν) to release one of the many prisoners to the crowd (ἀπολύειν ἕνα τῷ ὄχλῳ δέσμιον), usually it was not a criminal facing the death penalty.  This crowd could pick anyone that they wanted (ὃν ἤθελον), so that this kept the local folks happy.