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.

Tell everyone that someone stole the body of Jesus (Mt 28:12-28:14)

“After the chief priests

Had assembled

With the elders,

They devised

A plan

To give large sums

Of silver money

To the soldiers.

They said.

‘Tell the people!

‘His disciples came

By night.

They stole him away

While we were asleep.’

If the governor

Hears this story,

We will take care of him.

We will keep you

Out of trouble.’”

 

καὶ συναχθέντες μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων συμβούλιόν τε λαβόντες ἀργύρια ἱκανὰ ἔδωκαν τοῖς στρατιώταις

λέγοντες Εἴπατε ὅτι Οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς ἐλθόντες ἔκλεψαν αὐτὸν ἡμῶν κοιμωμένων.

καὶ ἐὰν ἀκουσθῇ τοῦτο ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος, ἡμεῖς πείσομεν καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀμερίμνους ποιήσομεν.

 

This is unique to Matthew, who continued with this story about the guards and the Jerusalem chief priestsAfter these chief priests had assembled with the elders or presbyters in consultation (καὶ συναχθέντες μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων), they decided or devised a plan to give large sums of silver money to these soldiers (συμβούλιόν τε λαβόντες ἀργύρια ἱκανὰ ἔδωκαν τοῖς στρατιώταις).  These custodian guards (κουστωδίας) have now become soldiers (στρατιώταις).  The chief priests said (λέγοντες) to tell the people that Jesus’ disciples came at night (Εἴπατε ὅτι Οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς ἐλθόντες).  They stole the body of Jesus away (ἔκλεψαν αὐτὸν), while they were asleep (ἡμῶν κοιμωμένων).  If the governor heard this story (καὶ ἐὰν ἀκουσθῇ τοῦτο ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος), they would take care of him or urge or persuade him (ἡμεῖς πείσομεν καὶ ὑμᾶς) to keep these soldiers out of trouble (ἀμερίμνους ποιήσομεν).  The problem, of course, is whether Roman soldiers would trust these Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.  The better option was that these were Jewish guards who could be persuaded by the Jewish leaders with a little financial incentive.

The guards tell the chief priests (Mt 28:11-28:11)

“While they were going,

Some of the guards

Went into the city.

They told

The chief priests

Everything

That had happened.”

 

Πορευομένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδού τινες τῆς κουστωδίας ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἀπήγγειλαν τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν ἅπαντα τὰ γενόμενα.

 

This is unique to Matthew, who said that while the 2 women were going to the disciples of Jesus (Πορευομένων δὲ αὐτῶν), some of the custodial guards at the tomb went into the city (ἰδού τινες τῆς κουστωδίας ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν πόλιν).  These guards told or reported to the chief priests (ἀπήγγειλαν τοῖς ἀρχιερεῦσιν) everything that had happened (ἅπαντα τὰ γενόμενα).  Remember these were not the Roman soldiers, but the custodial guards hired by the Jewish leaders.  Once again, Matthew showed his bias against these Jewish leaders in Jerusalem.

He was the Son of God (Mt 27:54-27:54)

“The centurion,

And those with him

Who were guarding Jesus,

Saw the earthquake.

They saw

What took place.

They were very terrified.

They said.

‘Truly!

This was the Son of God!’”

 

Ὁ δὲ ἑκατόνταρχος καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ τηροῦντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἰδόντες τὸν σεισμὸν καὶ τὰ γινόμενα ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα, λέγοντες Ἀληθῶς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς ἦν οὗτος.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 15:39, except that there is no mention of an earthquake there, just the centurion statement alone.  In Luke, chapter 23:47, the centurion simply said that this man was innocent, without any earthquake.  There is nothing about a centurion or earthquake in John, chapter 19.  Matthew said that the Roman centurion and the other Roman soldiers guarding Jesus (Ὁ δὲ ἑκατόνταρχος καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ τηροῦντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν), saw the seismic earthquake (ἰδόντες τὸν σεισμὸν).  They saw what had taken place (καὶ τὰ γινόμενα).  They were all very terrified and afraid (ἐφοβήθησαν σφόδρα).  They said that truly this man was the Son of God (λέγοντες Ἀληθῶς Θεοῦ Υἱὸς ἦν οὗτος).  It is interesting to note that the leader of the Roman soldiers, this centurion, who was in charge of 100 men, was afraid.  He and his fellow Roman soldiers were the ones calling Jesus the Son of God.  Once again, Matthew emphasized the goodness of the Roman leaders versus the evilness of the Jewish leaders.

Simon of Cyrene (Mt 27:32-27:32)

“As they went out,

They came upon a man

From Cyrene,

Named Simon.

They compelled

This man

To carry

His cross.”

 

Ἐξερχόμενοι δὲ εὗρον ἄνθρωπον Κυρηναῖον, ὀνόματι Σίμωνα· τοῦτον ἠγγάρευσαν ἵνα ἄρῃ τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 15:21, who has a very detailed description of Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as well as Luke, chapter 23:26.  John, chapter 19:17, had no mention of Simon, since he said that Jesus carried his cross by himself.  As they went out from the courtyard (Ἐξερχόμενοι δ), the Roman soldiers came upon a man from Cyrene (εὗρον ἄνθρωπον Κυρηναῖον) that had a large Jewish community in current day Libya.  This man was named Simon (ὀνόματι Σίμωνα).  They compelled or forced him to carry Jesus’ cross (τοῦτον ἠγγάρευσαν ἵνα ἄρῃ τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ).  This Simon may have been in Jerusalem for the Passover.  Mark seemed to indicate that this Simon was well known with two sons, but Matthew and Luke did not mention his sons.

Jesus goes to the governor’s head quarters (Mt 27:27-27:27)

“Then the soldiers

Of the governor

Took Jesus

Into the praetorium,

The governor’s headquarters.

They gathered

The whole cohort

Around him.”

 

Τότε οἱ στρατιῶται τοῦ ἡγεμόνος παραλαβόντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον συνήγαγον ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν.

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 15:16, while Luke does not have this episode.  Matthew said that the Roman soldiers of the governor (Τότε οἱ στρατιῶται τοῦ ἡγεμόνος) took Jesus (παραλαβόντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν) into the praetorium (εἰς τὸ πραιτώριον) or courtyard.  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 this gospel.  There they gathered a whole cohort or battalion of about 500-600 Roman soldiers around Jesus (συνήγαγον ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ὅλην τὴν σπεῖραν).  The Jews were no longer in this scene around Jesus here.

Son of Man coming (Mt 24:27-24:28)

“As the lightning

Comes from the east,

It flashes

As far as the west.

Thus,

Will be

The coming

Of the Son of Man.

Wherever the corpse is,

There the vultures

Will gather.”

 

ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἐξέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν καὶ φαίνεται ἕως δυσμῶν, οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου·

ὅπου ἐὰν ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα, ἐκεῖ συναχθήσονται οἱ ἀετοί.

 

This is something similar in Luke, chapter 17:23, about the Son of Man coming like lightening, but in a more succinct way.  Jesus said that as the lightning comes from the east (ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἀστραπὴ ἐξέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀνατολῶν) but flashes or shines in the west (καὶ φαίνεται ἕως δυσμῶν), so the Parousia or the second coming of the Son of Man will happen (οὕτως ἔσται ἡ παρουσία τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου).  Wherever the corpse is (ὅπου ἐὰν ᾖ τὸ πτῶμα), there the vultures gather (ἐκεῖ συναχθήσονται οἱ ἀετοί).  The Son of Man is a clear reference to Jesus in his return, the Parousia, who would return like a flash of lightening.  The vultures or eagles were a reference to the Roman soldiers with their eagle symbols.