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.

Advertisements

They plan to kill Jesus (Mt 27:1-27:1)

“When morning came,

All the chief priests

And the elders

Of the people

Conferred together

Against Jesus,

To bring about

His death.”

 

Πρωΐας δὲ γενομένης συμβούλιον ἔλαβον πάντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι τοῦ λαοῦ κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ὥστε θανατῶσαι αὐτόν·

 

This is similar to Mark, chapter 15:1, except that Mark did not mention the conclusion about the decision to bring Jesus to death.  In Luke, chapter 23:1, everybody agreed about the death of Jesus.  When morning came (Πρωΐας δὲ γενομένης), after the all-nighter evening meeting at the house of Caiaphas, the high priest of Jerusalem, all the chief priests (πάντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) and the elders of the people (καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι τοῦ λαοῦ) conferred together or took counsel (συμβούλιον ἔλαβον) against Jesus (κατὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ).  They decided to bring about the death of Jesus (ὥστε θανατῶσαι αὐτόν).  Whether this was an official meeting or not, they did come up with a conclusion that Jesus should die.

The example of David (Mt 12:3-12:4)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Have you not read

What David did

When he was hungry?

His companions were hungry.

He entered

The house of God.

He ate the bread

Of the Presence,

Which it was not lawful

For him

Or his companions

To eat,

Since it was

Only for the priests.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε τί ἐποίησεν Δαυεὶδ ὅτε ἐπείνασεν καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ;

πῶς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγον, ὃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἦν αὐτῷ φαγεῖν οὐδὲ τοῖς μετ’ αὐτοῦ, εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις;

 

 responded to the Pharisees by citing the example of David in 1 Samuel, chapter 21:1-6.  David went to the Levite town of Nob, where Ahimelech was the high priest.  David said that he needed bread for himself and his men.  Ahimelech responded that he only had consecrated holy bread for the sacrifices, not common bread.  That bread was for the Levites, but the priest then gave him the holy bread anyway.  This is similar to Mark, chapter 2:25-26, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  It is also the same as Luke, chapter 6:3-4.  Jesus said to the Pharisees (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς).  He wanted to know if they had read the unnamed book of Samuel (Οὐκ ἀνέγνωτε). That was when David and his companions were hungry (τί ἐποίησεν Δαυεὶδ ὅτε ἐπείνασεν καὶ οἱ μετ’ αὐτοῦ).  He entered the house of God (πῶς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Θεοῦ).  He ate the bread of the Presence or sacred Levite bread (καὶ τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγον,).  However, it was not lawful for him or his companions to eat it (ὃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἦν αὐτῷ φαγεῖν οὐδὲ τοῖς μετ’ αὐτοῦ).  Only the Levite priests were allowed to eat this sacred bread (εἰ μὴ τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις).  The bread of the Presence were 12 loaves of bread in the holy place in the Temple that symbolized communion with God.  Thus, Jesus used the example of David to answer the Pharisees.

Walk in the ways of Yahweh (Zech 3:6-3:7)

“Then the angel of Yahweh

Assured Joshua.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

If you will walk

In my ways,

If you keep my requirements,

Then you shall rule

My house.

You will have charge

Of my courts.

I will give you

The right of access

Among those who are standing here.’”

Then the angel of Yahweh reassured Joshua, the high priest.  The angel said that Yahweh of hosts had said that he would be in charge of the courts and have access to the Temple courts, if he walked in the ways of Yahweh.  If he kept all his requirements and commandments, he would rule the house of Yahweh, the Temple.  Thus, Joshua was reestablished as the actual high priest of the new Temple, but he would have to follow all of Yahweh’s commands.

The filthy clothes of Joshua (Zech 3:3-3:5)

“Now Joshua was dressed

With filthy clothes,

As he stood

Before the angel.

The angel said

To those who were standing

Before him.

‘Take off his filthy clothes!’

He said to him.

‘See!

I have taken your guilt away

From you.

I will clothe you

With festive apparel.’

I said.

‘Let them put a clean turban

On his head.’

Thus,

They put a clean turban

On his head.

They clothed him

With the apparel.

The angel of Yahweh

Was standing by.”

Joshua the high priest was wearing filthy clothes before the angel of Yahweh.  The dirty clothes represented the sins of the people and the high priest, as a form of mourning.  Then the angel told him that he should remove his dirty clothing, because the angel had removed the guilt of his sins.  Now he was to put on festive clothing.  Then Zechariah chimed in with the comment that the high priest should have a clean turban for his head.  Of course, they then got a clean turban hat for Joshua.

The letter of King Antiochus V to the Jewish senate (2 Macc 11:27-11:33)

“To the nation the king’s letter was as follows.

‘King Antiochus,

To the senate of the Jews and to the other Jews,

Greetings!

If you are well,

It is as we desire.

We also are in good health.

Menelaus has informed us

That you wish to return home.

You wish to look after your own affairs.

Therefore those who go home

By the thirtieth day of Xanthicus

Will have our pledge of friendship and full permission.

The Jews will enjoy their own food and laws,

Just as formerly,

None of them shall be molested in any way

For what he may have done in ignorance.

I have also sent Menelaus to encourage you.

Farewell.

The one hundred forty-eighth year,

Xanthicus fifteenth.’”

The king once again, like Lysias, ignored Judas Maccabeus. The letter was addressed to the Jewish Senate and all the Jews. In fact, Menelaus, the high priest, is the real intermediary. The king sent his good will through Menelaus, during the 13th day of the month of Xanthicus, March or April, of 164 BCE. He understood that they wanted to take care of their own affairs. He hoped that they were in good health as he was. They could now enjoy their own food and laws without any bother. They could also return to their own lands in the next 2 weeks. He still held out the possibility of further harassment because they might disobey out of ignorance.

The actions of Jason, the high priest (2 Macc 4:11-4:17)

“Jason set aside the existing royal concessions to the Jews, secured through John the father of Eupolemus, who went on the mission to establish friendship and alliance with the Romans. Jason destroyed the lawful ways of living. He introduced new customs contrary to the law. He took delight in establishing a gymnasium right under the citadel. He induced the noblest of the young men to wear the Greek hat. There was such an extreme Hellenization. There was an increase in the adoption of foreign ways because of the surpassing wickedness of Jason. He was ungodly and no true high priest. The priests were no longer intent upon their service at the altar. Despising the sanctuary and neglecting the sacrifices, they hurried to take part in the unlawful proceedings in the wrestling arena after the signal for the discus-throwing. They disdained the honors prized by their ancestors. They put the highest value upon Greek forms of prestige. For this reason heavy disaster overtook them. Those whose ways of living they admired and wished to imitate completely became their enemies and punished them. It is no light thing to show irreverence to the divine laws, a fact that later events will make clear.”

Jason set aside the royal concessions of the former King Seleucus IV. This had been part of the mission of John the father of Eupolemu who went to Rome.  Jason introduced new customs, always a dangerous thing to do. He was delighted with the new Greek gymnasium. He had the young men wear the Greek hat, which would be a symbol of the Greek god Hermes, somewhat like a loyalty gang symbol. This Hellenization was bringing in Greek religion and customs. Besides, Jason was not a worthy true high priest. He had a bad influence on the other priests, as they were more interested in sports than their priestly sacrificial duties. They too preferred the Greek ways. However, this biblical author reminds them that things can change quickly. Your friends could become your enemies. Disaster was on the way for those who showed irreverence to the divine laws.