Watch and pray (Mk 14:38-14:38)

“Keep awake!

Pray!

That you may not come

Into the time of trial!

The spirit indeed

Is willing,

But the flesh

Is weak.’”

 

γρηγορεῖτε καὶ προσεύχεσθε, ἵνα μὴ ἔλθητε εἰς πειρασμόν· τὸ μὲν πνεῦμα πρόθυμον, ἡ δὲ σὰρξ ἀσθενής.

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 14:41.  Luke, chapter 22:45-46, is somewhat similar, while in John, chapter 22, there were no indications of this action in the garden.  Mark recounted that Jesus told Peter and the other 2 disciples to stay awake, watch, and be vigilant (γρηγορεῖτε).  They should pray (καὶ προσεύχεσθε) that their time of temptation or trial did not come (ἵνα μὴ ἔλθητε εἰς πειρασμόν), because they did not seem to be ready.  Then Jesus remarked that the spirit indeed was willing (τὸ μὲν πνεῦμα πρόθυμον), but the flesh was weak (ἡ δὲ σὰρξ ἀσθενής).  Jesus was reprimanding Peter and the other 2 disciples in a mild but firm way.  They needed to be more vigilant.

The disciples were afraid (Mk 6:49-6:50)

“But when the disciples

Saw him

Walking on the sea,

They thought

It was a ghost.

They cried out.

They all saw him.

They were terrified.

But immediately,

He spoke

To them.

He said.

‘Take heart!

It is I!

Have no fear!’”

 

οἱ δὲ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης περιπατοῦντα ἔδοξαν ὅτι φάντασμά ἐστιν, καὶ ἀνέκραξαν

πάντες γὰρ αὐτὸν εἶδαν καὶ ἐταράχθησαν. ὁ δὲ εὐθὺς ἐλάλησεν μετ’ αὐτῶν, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Θαρσεῖτε, ἐγώ εἰμι, μὴ φοβεῖσθε.

 

This incident about Jesus walking on water can be found in Matthew, chapter 14:26-27, and John, chapter 6:19-20.  In all three stories, the disciples were afraid and the response of Jesus was the same, reassuring.  Mark said that when the disciples saw him walking on the sea (οἱ δὲ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης περιπατοῦντα), they thought Jesus was a ghost or an apparition (ἔδοξαν ὅτι φάντασμά ἐστιν).  They cried or shouted out (καὶ ἀνέκραξαν).  They all saw him (πάντες γὰρ αὐτὸν εἶδαν) and were terrified (καὶ ἐταράχθησαν).  But immediately, Jesus spoke to them to reassure them (ὁ δὲ εὐθὺς ἐλάλησεν μετ’ αὐτῶν).  He told them to have courage and take heart (καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς Θαρσεῖτε).  He said that he was not a ghost, but Jesus himself (ἐγώ εἰμι), so that they did not have to be afraid.  They had nothing to fear (μὴ φοβεῖσθε).  Jesus reassured his disciples, while he walked on the waters of the sea.  Once again, the disciples seemed weak or not understanding what was going on.

The sleeping apostles (Mt 26:40-26:41)

“Then Jesus came

To the disciples.

He found them sleeping.

He said to Peter.

‘So!

Could you not

Stay awake

With me

One hour?

Stay awake!

Pray

That you may not come

Into the time

Of temptation!

The spirit indeed

Is willing,

But the flesh

Is weak.’”

 

καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς καὶ εὑρίσκει αὐτοὺς καθεύδοντας, καὶ λέγει τῷ Πέτρῳ Οὕτως οὐκ ἰσχύσατε μίαν ὥραν γρηγορῆσαι μετ’ ἐμοῦ;

γρηγορεῖτε καὶ προσεύχεσθε, ἵνα μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς πειρασμόν· τὸ μὲν πνεῦμα πρόθυμον, ἡ δὲ σὰρξ ἀσθενής.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 14:37-38, but Mark calls Peter Simon.  Luke, chapter 22:45-46, is somewhat similar, but without the last phrase, while in John, chapter 22, there are no indications of this action in the garden.  Both Mark and Matthew recounted that Jesus came to the 3 special disciples (καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς), where he found them sleeping (καὶ εὑρίσκει αὐτοὺς καθεύδοντας).  Then he complained to Peter (καὶ λέγει τῷ Πέτρῳ) that he could not even stay awake or watch with him for merely one hour (Οὕτως οὐκ ἰσχύσατε μίαν ὥραν γρηγορῆσαι μετ’ ἐμοῦ).  He told him and the other 2 disciples to stay awake, watch, and be vigilant (γρηγορεῖτε).  They should pray (καὶ προσεύχεσθε) that their time of temptation or trial did not come (ἵνα μὴ εἰσέλθητε εἰς πειρασμόν).  Then Jesus remarked that the spirit indeed was willing (τὸ μὲν πνεῦμα πρόθυμον), but the flesh was weak (ἡ δὲ σὰρξ ἀσθενής).  Jesus was reprimanding Peter and the other 2 disciples in a mild but firm way.  They needed to be vigilant.

You did not treat the least or lowly people well (Mt 25:45-25:45)

“Then he will answer them.

‘Truly!

I say to you!

Just as you did

Not do it

To one of the least

Of these people,

You did not

Do it to me.’”

 

τότε ἀποκριθήσεται αὐτοῖς λέγων Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐφ’ ὅσον οὐκ ἐποιήσατε ἑνὶ τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων, οὐδὲ ἐμοὶ ἐποιήσατε.

 

This last judgment section is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that the king or the Son of Man would answer them (τότε ἀποκριθήσεται αὐτοῖς) with a solemn proclamation (λέγων Ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  They had not helped the least of these people or the small ones as he called them (ἐφ’ ὅσον οὐκ ἐποιήσατε ἑνὶ τούτων τῶν ἐλαχίστων).  No longer is this just about family members or brothers, they were neglecting or not helping him (οὐδὲ ἐμοὶ ἐποιήσατε) these not important people.  The weak or the lesser people were part of God’s family.  Failure to treat them correctly was a failure to treat Jesus correctly.

Herod was annoyed and frightened (Mt 2:3-2:4)

“When King Herod heard this,

He was frightened.

All of Jerusalem

Was troubled

With him.

King Herod called together

All the chief priests,

As well as the scribes

Of the people.

He inquired of them

Where the Christ

Was to be born.”

 

ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης ἐταράχθη, καὶ πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ, καὶ συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ ἐπυνθάνετο παρ’ αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται.

 

When the old King Herod heard this (ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ βασιλεὺς Ἡρῴδης) from the magi, he was frightened, troubled, and annoyed (ἐταράχθη), since he did not have a new born son.  He might have worried about his own sons, since his oldest son Archelaus would become the ethnarch of the tetrarchy of Judea, while Herod Antipas would become tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, when he died.  In fact, the whole town of Jerusalem (πᾶσα Ἱεροσόλυμα μετ’ αὐτοῦ) was troubled also, because they had not heard anything about a new king.  Thus, King Herod assembled all the chief priests and the scribes (συναγαγὼν πάντας τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ γραμματεῖς τοῦ λαοῦ) in Jerusalem to find out (ἐπυνθάνετο) where this new anointed king might have been born (αὐτῶν ποῦ ὁ Χριστὸς γεννᾶται).  Interesting enough, Matthew has the new child called Χριστὸς, the anointed one.  King Herod probably gathered the great Jewish Sanhedrin to discuss this matter.  Herod himself was from Edom and not really a traditional Jew, but had converted to Judaism, so that his knowledge of Jewish traditions was weak.

Yahweh is with you (Zeph 3:16-3:17)

“On that day,

It shall be said

To Jerusalem.

‘Do not fear!

O Zion!

Do not let your hands

Grow weak!

Yahweh!

Your God!

Is in your midst!

He is a warrior

Who gives victory.

He will rejoice

Over you

With gladness.

He will renew you

In his love.

He will exult

Over you

With loud singing

As on a day of festival.”

Zephaniah emphasized that on that great day, Jerusalem would have Yahweh in their midst.  They were not to fear or let their hands grow weak.  Yahweh, their God, would be a warrior for them.  Yahweh was going to rejoice and be glad about them.  He would renew them with his love.  He would exult over them with loud singing, as on the various festival days.

The divided mixed kingdom (Dan 2:41-2:43)

“As you saw

The feet

With the toes,

Partly of potter’s clay,

Partly of iron,

It shall be a divided kingdom.

Some of the strength

Of iron

Shall be in it,

Just as you saw

The iron mixed

With the clay.

As the toes

Of the feet were

Partly iron,

Partly clay,

Thus,

The kingdom shall be

Partly strong,

Partly brittle.

As you saw the iron

Mixed with clay,

Thus,

They will mix

With one another

In marriage.

But they will not

Hold together,

Just as iron

Does not mix

With clay.”

This appears to be a veiled reference to the future Greek iron kingdom with its problems between the different ruling parties of the Seleucids (312-63 BCE) and the Ptolemies (305-30 BCE). They each inherited parts of the Greek empire of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE). They tried to join together through marriage, but that failed. Daniel here used the example of the feet made of iron and clay, the strength of the iron mixed with the weak clay. However, as the toes and feet became weak, so too this kingdom would be partly strong and partly brittle. Even a marriage could not hold it together, because iron and clay simply do not mix.