The covenant with Abraham (Lk 1:73-1:73)

“God has remembered

The oath

That he swore

To our ancestor

Abraham.”

 

ὅρκον ὃν ὤμοσεν πρὸς Ἀβραὰμ τὸν πατέρα ἡμῶν, τοῦ δοῦναι ἡμῖν

 

In case there was any doubt about what covenant or agreement Zechariah was talking about, he made it clear, via this canticle in Luke, that this was the covenant or agreement with Abraham to have him and his many descendants be prosperous as in Genesis, chapter 22:16-18.  Zechariah said that God had remembered or given them (τοῦ δοῦναι ἡμῖν) the oath (ὅρκον) that he swore (ὃν ὤμοσεν) to Abraham (πρὸς Ἀβραὰμ), their ancestor or father (τὸν πατέρα ἡμῶν).  The covenant was coming about right before their very eyes.  Notice it was not the Mosaic, but the older Abrahamic covenant that Luke emphasized.

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Peter began to swear (Mk 14:71-14:71)

“But Peter began

To curse.

He swore an oath.

‘I do not know

This man

You are talking about.’”

 

ὁ δὲ ἤρξατο ἀναθεματίζειν καὶ ὀμνύναι ὅτι Οὐκ οἶδα τὸν ἄνθρωπον τοῦτον ὃν λέγετε

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 26:74.  There is something similar in Luke, chapter 22: 60, and John, chapter 18:27.  However, Luke did not have the curse or the oath, while John said that Peter simply denied Jesus.  Mark said that Peter began to curse (ὁ δὲ ἤρξατο ἀναθεματίζειν).  He swore an oath that he did not know this man (καὶ ὀμνύειν ὅτι Οὐκ οἶδα τὸν ἄνθρωπον) that they were talking about (τοῦτον ὃν λέγετε).  Thus, we have the 3rd public denial of Jesus by Peter that can be found in all 4 gospels.  This great apostolic leader had failed his first major test just as Jesus had predicted, despite his bombastic earlier outbursts that it would never happen.  Are you sometimes too bombastic?

 

Fifth narrative

Jesus traveled toward Jerusalem and taught in the Temple there, debating with the chief priests and religious leaders.  Then he spoke about the coming kingdom of heaven and the future end times.

Jesus finally went to Judea, where he cured large crowds of people.  The Pharisees questioned him about divorce.  Jesus reiterated the importance of marriage, as he spoke about Moses and divorce.  After hearing the response of Jesus about divorce, his disciples wondered why they should marry at all.  Jesus explained about different kind of eunuchs.

The children came forward to Jesus and he blessed them.  He warned against wealth.  To gain eternal life you had to keep the commandments.  They wanted to know which commandments?  The great commandment was not a problem.  However, Jesus asked them to give up their possessions, so that the rich young man walked away.  It was hard for rich people to enter the kingdom like a camel going through the eye of a needle.  Who could be saved?  The response was that all things are possible with God.  Peter wanted to know about the disciples and the eternal life reward, so that Jesus told them that the first shall be last and vice versa.

Then Jesus presented the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  He hired the first laborers, and then late in the day a second group, a third group and finally a fourth group of laborers.  The last group hired got a full day’s pay.  The first group hired were upset when they got the same as the last group hired.  This brought up the problem of generosity versus fairness, as Jesus explained the parable.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicted what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem.  The mother of the sons of Zebedee wanted to know if her two sons, James and John, could be the greatest, on either side of Jesus.  Jesus pointed out the difficulties and said that only the Father set up the seating arrangements.  This led to ten angry men as they resented the two trying to be first.  Jesus reminded them about servant leadership, as the Son of Man was going to give up his life.

There were great crowds at Jericho where Jesus found two blind men asking for mercy, so he healed them.  Then began the final ministry in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry.  Jesus sent two disciples from Bethpage to get a donkey and a colt because he needed them.  Thus, the prophecy of Zechariah might be fulfilled.  They brought the donkey and the colt to Jesus.  Then crowds welcomed the Son of David into Jerusalem as they began to wonder who this man was?

Jesus went into the Temple and chased out the money changers to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah.  When he cured people in the Temple, the chief priests were angry, but the little children praised him.

Then Jesus went to Bethany.  The next morning, he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree, but it had no figs, so he cursed the fig tree as it withered because of his faith.

People began to question where did Jesus get his authority?  Jesus responded with a question for a question.  He asked them about the value of the baptism of John.  They gave a timid response.  Then he told the parable about the two sons.  The first son said no at first, and then did the work, while the second son said yes and did not do the work.  Which son did the will of his father?  Thus, they did not believe John the Baptist.

Then Jesus told the parable about the wicked tenants.  This absentee land owner of the vineyard sent people to collect his rent.  Instead, the tenants beat and killed the landowner’s slaves.  He sent a second group that was also killed.  Then the tenants killed the landowner’s son.  Finally, the landowner came to take back his vineyard, citing Psalm 118 about the kingdom of God and the falling cornerstone.  The Pharisees understood this parable and tried to arrest Jesus.

Jesus continued to speak in parables.  This parable was about the king who gave a great wedding banquet.  However, the invited guests refused to come to the wedding banquet.  He sent out a second invitation to the wedding banquet, but they refused the second invitation also.  They treated his slaves badly.  The king was angry and sent out new invitations to the wedding feast.  Finally, a man without a wedding garment showed up, but he threw him out of the feast.  The explanation of this parable was that many are called, but few are chosen.

Next the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by flattering him.  They asked him a question about taxes.  Jesus gave a harsh response as he had a dialogue about the Roman coin about whose image was on it.  Give Caesar his due.  The Pharisees and their disciples left.

However, the Sadducees asked a question about the resurrection.  There was a law about marrying the brother of a dead man.  There was a woman who married seven brothers, who was her husband in the resurrection?  Jesus responded that there was no marriage in the resurrection.  The living God of their ancestors would show them the way.  The crowd was astonished.

The Pharisees regrouped and wanted to know what is the greatest commandment?  Jesus responded about the two great commandments to love God and your neighbor.  Then Jesus asked the Pharisees a question.  Was the Christ the son of David?  Then who was the Lord for David?  After that there were no more questions for Jesus.

Jesus then cursed the Scribes and Pharisees.  He told his disciples to do what they say, but not what they do.  They tied up heavy burdens on the people.  They wore special clothing and sought the places of honor.  They want to be called Rabbis.  No one was your father or master.  Greatness comes with humility.  They tried to lock people out of heaven as they shut it off.  Even when they tried to make converts, they are like blind guides and fools.  They swore by the altar or the gift of the altar.  They swore by heaven, but they had forgotten the law.  They wanted the gnat out your eye but had a camel in their own eye.  They worried about the outside of the cup instead of the inside.  They were like whitewashed tombs.  They proclaimed reverence for the tombs of the prophets, but they were like their sinning ancestors. They were like serpents.  They would kill the prophets.  They spread innocent blood.  Soon the house of Jerusalem would be desolate.

Finally, there were the predictions about the end times.  Jesus left the Temple as he predicted its destruction.  What are the signs of the Parousia?  There would be the beginning of the great suffering so that they should not be lead astray.  There would be rumors of wars in those troubled times.  They would be persecuted for the sake of Jesus.  There would be betrayals and false prophets.  Love would grow cold.  Endurance would be necessary.  The importance of Daniel the prophet was emphasized.  In Judea, they would flee to the housetops.  It would be too late for the people in the fields.  This would be the wrong time to be pregnant or nursing.  There would be great tribulation, but the days would be short.

The end was coming because there would be false Christs and people looking for the Messiah.  The Son of Man would come on the clouds as the darkness in the skies appeared.  There would be a gathering of the chosen ones.  Using the parable of the fig tree, they could tell that the end was near.  This generation would pass away, but Jesus’ words would not pass away.  No one knew the day, since it would be like in the days of Noah.  Only one would be taken and the other left, so be ready.  Be a wise and faithful slave, not a wicked slave.

Jesus told the parable of the ten bridesmaids where half were wise and half foolish.  They all fell asleep.  When the bridegroom came, they all got up.  However, the foolish ones had no oil and wise ones said that there was not enough oil for both of them.  When the foolish left to get oil, they shut the door.  When they came back, the bridegroom said that he did not know them.  Thus, you do not know the day.

Next Jesus told the parable of the talents.  A man entrusted his assets to his slaves.  He gave them money.  One slave added five more talents, another added two more talents, but the third slave dug a hole and buried his money.  The master settled their accounts.  The slave with five talents got five more talents.  The slave with two talents got two more talents.  The slave with one talent was rebuked and punished.  Thus, there will be rewards and punishments at the end times.

In the last judgment, the Son of Man would appear in glory.  There would be sheep and goats, with the sheep on the right hand.  They had taken care of him.  They wondered when they had done this.  The Son of Man replied that they took care of him when they cared for the least of his brothers.  Then he told the goats on his left side to depart from him because they had not taken care of him when they did not care for the lowly people.  Thus, there would be eternal punishment or eternal reward.

The third denial (Mt 26:73-26:74)

“After a little while,

Bystanders came up.

They said to Peter.

‘Certainly,

You are also

One of them.

Your accent

Betrays you.’

Then he began

To curse.

He swore an oath.

‘I do not know this man.’”

 

μετὰ μικρὸν δὲ προσελθόντες οἱ ἑστῶτες εἶπον τῷ Πέτρῳ Ἀληθῶς καὶ σὺ ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶ, καὶ γὰρ ἡ λαλιά σου δῆλόν σε ποιεῖ.

τότε ἤρξατο καταθεματίζειν καὶ ὀμνύειν ὅτι Οὐκ οἶδα τὸν ἄνθρωπον.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:70-71.  There is something similar in Luke, chapter 22:59-60, and John, chapter 18:26-27.  However, Luke did not have the curse or the oath, while John said that the man recognized Peter because he was a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off.  Matthew and Mark said that after a little while (μετὰ μικρὸν), some of the bystanders said to Peter (οἱ ἑστῶτες εἶπον τῷ Πέτρῳ) that he certainly was one of the followers of Jesus (Ἀληθῶς καὶ σὺ ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶ), because of his northern Galilee accent in his speech that betrayed him (καὶ γὰρ ἡ λαλιά σου δῆλόν σε ποιεῖ).  Then Peter began to curse (τότε ἤρξατο καταθεματίζειν).  He swore an oath that he did not know this man (καὶ ὀμνύειν ὅτι Οὐκ οἶδα τὸν ἄνθρωπον).  Thus, we have the 3rd public denial of Jesus by Peter that can be found in all 4 gospels.  This apostolic leader had failed his first major test just as Jesus had predicted, despite his bombastic earlier outbursts that it would never happen.

 

Blind guides (Mt 23:16-23:16)

“Woe to you!

Blind guides!

You say.

‘Whoever swears

By the temple,

Is bound by nothing.

But whoever swears

By the gold

Of the Temple,

Is bound

By the oath.’”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, ὁδηγοὶ τυφλοὶ οἱ λέγοντες Ὃς ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ ναῷ, οὐδέν ἐστιν· ὃς δ’ ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ χρυσῷ τοῦ ναοῦ, ὀφείλει.

 

This unique diatribe against the Scribes and Pharisees continued in Matthew alone.  But here they are called blind guides, as Matthew had earlier mentioned in chapter 15:14.  Jesus cursed (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν) these blind guides (ὁδηγοὶ τυφλοὶ) because they were saying (οἱ λέγοντες) that whoever swore by the Temple (Ὃς ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ ναῷ) were not bound by it since it was considered nothing (οὐδέν ἐστιν).  However, anyone who swore by the gold of the Temple (ὃς δ’ ἂν ὀμόσῃ ἐν τῷ χρυσῷ τοῦ ναοῦ) were bound (ὀφείλει) by that oath.  In other words, the only thing that they were bound to fulfill was the money that they said they were going to contribute, not other vows or promises.  This goes back to the question of whether you should swear to do anything or not, as posed earlier in this work in chapter 5:33-37.

Yahweh will not forget (Am 8:7-8:8)

“Yahweh has sworn

By the pride of Jacob,

‘Surely,

I will never forget

Any of their deeds.

Shall not the land tremble

On this account?

Every one mourns

Who lives in it.

All of it rises

Like the Nile.

They will be tossed about.

They will sink again,

Like the Nile of Egypt.’”

Yahweh swore by the pride of Jacob, that is the land itself.  He was not going to forget their evil deeds.  The land would tremble on their account.  Everyone who lived there would be in mourning, since the land would move up and down.  They would be tossed about, as if they were on the Nile River in Egypt.

The time frame (Dan 12:6-12:7)

“One of them said

To the man

Clothed in linen,

Who was upstream.

‘How long shall it be

Until the end

Of these wonders?’

The man clothed in linen,

Who was upstream,

Raised his right hand.

Then he raised

His left hand

Toward heaven.

I heard him swear,

By the one who lives forever,

That it would be for a time,

Two times,

Then half a time.

When the shattering

Of the power

Of the holy people

Comes to an end,

All these things

Would be accomplished.”

One of these two new men spoke to the man in the linen clothing, who had been upstream for some time.  This man wanted to know how long it would be until the end of all these wonders.  Thus, the man with the linen clothing upstream raised his right and then his left hand to heaven.  He swore, by the God who lives forever, that it would 3 ½ times, 1 time, 2 times, and ½ time.  Does this mean 3 ½ years?  Perhaps, this is a reference to the time between the desecration of the Temple by King Antiochus IV and its restoration around 165 BCE.  There then would be the shattering of the power of the holy people, when all these things would be accomplished.