Would Elijah save Jesus? (Mt 27:49-27:49)

“But the others said.

‘Wait!

Let us see

Whether Elijah

Will come to save him.’”

 

οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ εἶπαν Ἄφες ἴδωμεν εἰ ἔρχεται Ἡλείας σώσων αὐτόν.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:36.  There was nothing about Elijah in Luke, chapter 23, and in John, chapter 19.  Matthew said that some of the other bystanders (οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ εἶπαν) wanted to wait and see whether Elijah would come to save Jesus (Ἄφες ἴδωμεν εἰ ἔρχεται Ἡλείας σώσων αὐτόν).  Other ancient manuscripts have the additional symbolic phrase that can be found in John, 19:34 that happened after Jesus had died.  This verse read “Another soldier took a spear and pierced his side.  Then out came water and blood (ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἔνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευράν, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὕδωρ καὶ αἷμα).”

 

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They give him sour wine to drink (Mt 27:48-27:48)

“At once,

One of the bystanders ran.

He got a sponge.

He filled it

With sour wine.

He put it on a stick.

He gave it to him

To drink.”

 

καὶ εὐθέως δραμὼν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν καὶ λαβὼν σπόγγον πλήσας τε ὄξους καὶ περιθεὶς καλάμῳ ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:36.  In Luke, chapter 23:36, there was an indication of a soldier who gave some sour wine to Jesus.  In John, chapter 19:28-29, Jesus said that he was thirsty before they gave him this sour wine that was standing nearby.  Matthew said that soon one of the bystanders ran to get a sponge (καὶ εὐθέως δραμὼν εἷς ἐξ αὐτῶν καὶ λαβὼν σπόγγον).  He filled it with sour wine or vinegar (πλήσας τε ὄξους).  Then he put it on a stick or reed (καὶ περιθεὶς καλάμῳ) to give Jesus something to drink (ἐπότιζεν αὐτόν).  This sour wine or vinegar might have been a reference to Psalm 69:21, where the psalmist complained that they gave him vinegar to drink.  This common Roman soldier drink of sour wine or vinegar mixed with water might also have been an anesthetic to ease the pain.  Thus, this action might have been an act of compassion for Jesus hanging on the cross.

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 fourth beatitude about righteousness (Mt 5:6-5:6)

“Blessed are

Those who hunger for righteousness,

Those who thirst for righteousness,

They shall be filled.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ

 

The happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι) were those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness (οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην).  They would not go away empty handed.  They would be satisfied or filled (ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ).  Isaiah, chapter 55:1-2 has an invitation to those without money to come to drink and eat.  They could have water, wine, milk and bread.  They would enjoy themselves at this banquet.  Matthew may have been referencing Psalm 107:4-9, where Yahweh had helped a small group of lost Israelites who were hungry and thirsty, while wandering in the desert.  He satisfied their thirst and filled their hunger with good food.  In their distress, they called out to Yahweh, who heard them.  He led them in a straight path to an inhabited town.  Thus, they gave thanks to Yahweh.  So too, those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness, the right way of doing things, would be satisfied or filled with this righteousness.

The response of Jesus (Mt 4: 7-4:7)

“Jesus said

To the devil.

‘Again,

It is written.

You shall not tempt

The Lord

Your God.’”

 

ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Πάλιν γέγραπται Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σο

 

Once again, this is like Luke, chapter 4:12, but was the 3rd third rather than the 2nd temptation as here. The wording is the same, indicating a common source, perhaps Q. Jesus’s response was short and sweet (ἔφη αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς). He told the devil that he should not tempt the Lord his God (Οὐκ ἐκπειράσεις Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σο), as if the devil accepted God. This quotation (Πάλιν γέγραπται) was once again taken from Deuteronomy, chapter 6:16, where Yahweh was calling for no more rebellions like that at Massah, when they complained about the lack of water. They were not to test Yahweh anymore

The powerful one to come (Mt 3:11-3:11)

“I baptize you

With water

For repentance.

But one,

Who is more powerful

Than I,

Is coming after me.

I am not worthy

To carry his sandals.

He will baptize you

With the Holy Spirit,

And with fire.”

 

ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν· ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι· αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ καὶ πυρί·

 

The wording here is the same as in Mark, chapter 1:7-8 and Luke, chapter 3:16-17, indicating a common source. However, in Luke, John the Baptist was responding to questions about whether he was the Messiah. Instead, John said that he was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself. He was the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, so that sometimes he was also identified with the prophet Elijah. John the Baptist was clear in this utterance (ἐγὼ μὲν). He baptized in water for repentance (βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν). However, after him (ὁ δὲ ὀπίσω μου), there would be a messianic one more powerful than him (ἐρχόμενος ἰσχυρότερός μού ἐστιν,). He felt that he was not fit or worthy to carry his sandals (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς τὰ ὑποδήματα βαστάσαι). This one to come was going to baptize them (αὐτὸς ὑμᾶς βαπτίσει) in the Holy Spirit (ἐν Πνεύματι Ἁγίῳ) and fire (καὶ πυρί). Mark, chapter 1:8, also said that the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit, did not mention any fire. This is the second mention of the Holy Spirit in Matthew since he was also the originator of Jesus in the womb of Mary. Now he was going to use purifying fire in the baptismal washing.

The third curse against their towns (Hab 2:12-2:14)

“Woe to you!

You build a town

By bloodshed!

You found a city

On iniquity!

Is it not from Yahweh of hosts

That people labor,

Only to feed the flames?

Do nations weary themselves

For nothing?

The earth will be filled

With the knowledge

Of the glory of Yahweh,

As the waters cover the sea.”

Habakkuk issued his 3rd woe or curse against the Chaldeans, because they built their towns with bloodshed and founded their cities on iniquity.  They forced the people into building their cities with free labor.  However, the flames of a fire would come to destroy them.  They were wasting their time, because these towns and cities would not last.  The end result was that the earth would be filled with the knowledge and glory of Yahweh, just as water covered the sea.