Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Passion Week - Sunday

He is risen!

Mark 16:1-7 - When the Sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb, just as the sun was rising. "Who is going to roll the stone back from the doorway of the tomb?" they asked each other. And then as they looked closer, they saw that the stone, which was a very large one, had been rolled back. So they went into the tomb and saw a young man in a white robe sitting on the right-hand side, and they were simply astonished. But he said to them, "There is no need to be astonished. He has risen; he is not here. Look, here is the place where they laid him. But now go and tell his disciples, and Peter, that he will be in Galilee before you. You will see him there just as he told you."

Luke 24:6-7 "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here: he has risen! Remember what he said to you, while he was still in Galilee - that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and must be crucified, and must rise again on the third day."

Even the disciples may have forgotten about this teaching until Christ later reminded them.  He told them many times, but they did not think He was being literal:

Mark 9:10 They treasured this remark and tried to puzzle out among themselves what "Rising from the dead" could mean.

What did the resurrection mean to the disciples?  If we remember back to the arrest of our Lord, all the disciples ran away when Chris was apprehended.  Well, only Peter and another followed Christ to his hearings.  We know that Peter even denied Christ three times that night!  Their idea was not one of a weak Messiah, but of one who would conquer the armies of men.  Instead, this Christ would conquer the hearts of men.  “He has risen!” was a statement that would fill the hearts of the disciples and cause unheard of masses to come to a saving knowledge of the promised Messiah.  He was for all nations, Jew and Gentile.  All of the 11 remaining disciples believed this to their death, and died because of this!  I once heard that “A myth doesn’t make a martyr.”

I will leave you with the Apostle Paul’s comments on the importance of the resurrection from his First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 15:

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 - For I passed on to you Corinthians first of all the message I had myself received - that Christ died for our sins, as the scriptures said he would; that he was buried and rose again on the third day, again as the scriptures foretold. He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve, and subsequently he was seen simultaneously by over five hundred Christians, of whom the majority are still alive, though some have since died. He was then seen by James, then by all the messengers. And last of all, as if to one born abnormally late, he appeared to me!
1 Corinthians 15:12-26 - Now if the rising of Christ from the dead is the very heart of our message, how can some of you deny that there is any resurrection? For if there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead, then Christ was never raised. And if Christ was not raised then neither our preaching nor your faith has any meaning at all. Further it would mean that we are lying in our witness for God, for we have given our solemn testimony that he did raise up Christ - and that is utterly false if it should be true that the dead do not, in fact, rise again! For if the dead do not rise neither did Christ rise, and if Christ did not rise your faith is futile and your sins have never been forgiven. Moreover those who have died believing in Christ are utterly dead and gone. Truly, if our hope in Christ were limited to this life only we should, of all mankind be the most to be pitied!  But the glorious fact is that Christ did rise from the dead: he has become the very first to rise of all who sleep the sleep of death. As death entered the world through a man, so has rising from the dead come to us through a man! As members of a sinful race all men die; as members of the Christ of God all men shall be raised to life, each in his proper order, with Christ the very first and after him all who belong to him when he comes. Then, and not till then, authority and power, hands over the kingdom to God the Father. Christ's reign will and must continue until every enemy has been conquered. The last enemy of all to be destroyed is death itself. The scripture says: 'He has put all things under his feet'.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Passion Week - Saturday

With Jesus being dead, there was nothing He was doing on earth.  There is a theory that He actually descended into Hell to finish His work.  I hope to show that, whether this actually happened or not, Scripture may not actually support this theory. (This is something that I actually wrote in 2001, and I think that my position has somewhat shifted, but I will set forth what I wrote then with parenthetical notes...)

The major proponent holding this doctrine together has been the Apostle’s Creed and the tradition thereof. It should be noted Rufinus first used the phrase “descended into [Hades]” in AD 390. In his usage, he meant “buried” instead of a literal descent. It wasn’t until AD 650 that a version of the Apostles’ Creed contained the phrase, as it’s “understood” today.  So, for nearly 600 years the phrase was not used in today's sense in Christianity.

There are generally 5 passages that are used in support of the view of a literal descent into Hell after Christ died.
1.  Acts 2:27 has generally been used to support this, but if we read the NIV we see a more proper translation:  “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”(NASB [and ESV] render this as “hades” while KJV renders “hell”) This translation tends to hold with the historical view that Christ didn’t descend. It took around 600 years after the writing of this event for it to be taken as “hell” in the Creed. (Of course the term Hades can mean grave, but really in its more proper sense it would mean the abode of the dead - both the righteous and the unrighteous. So I'm not so sure I would go with what I stated on this point.)
2.  Romans 10:6-7 offers a couple of questions.  “But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ‘DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, "WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).'' (NASB) (KJV and NIV render “abyss” as “the deep.”) What does “abyss” mean? See Genesis 1:2 (darkness was over the surface of the deep) and Genesis 7:11 (all the fountains of the great deep burst open). Also, see Deuteronomy 8:7, and Psalm106:26 and Psalm 107:26. From the OT usages of the term for “abyss” it is seen that it would mean a more physical, earthly realm. A better understanding can come from the 3rd verse used to support a descent. I don't believe the usage here was intended to mean "hell." (I would still agree with this that the statement in Romans supports the theory that Christ descended into hell after his death.)
3.  Ephesians 4:9 is used as well.  “He also descended to the lower, earthly regions?” This is most properly understood as a contrast of Christ’s ascension from earth to heaven. He descended to earth from heaven in the same sense that He ascended to heaven from earth.
4.  1 Peter 3:18-20 is another passage used. This passage is best understood when tying into the comparison of Christ and Christians ministering to unbelievers just as Noah did. There is a major factor to look at as far as a timeline goes of the “proclamation to the spirits now in prison.” When did the Spirit of Christ do this?  “When the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah.” This was not something done after Christ’s death, but something ages past. Cross-reference this with 1 Peter 1:10-11 – the prophets were being led by the same Spirit of Christ that Noah was and that’s mentioned in chapter 3.  Several parallels with Noah and the believers to whom Peter was writing give more strength to this position as well. (I would still agree with what Peter wrote here as not meaning a descent into hell after Christ's death. Though this is definitely a much-debated passage of Scripture. I definitely recommend Wayne Grudem's appendix on this passage in his commentary on 1 Peter.)
5.  1 Peter 4:6 is also used: “For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God” This, if looked at as preaching to those who will die, directly contradicts Luke 16:19-31 (The rich man and Lazarus – cannot go from hell to heaven!) and Hebrews 9:27 (judged after you die – no second chance). This passage is best understood that WHILE THEY WERE ALIVE, the gospel was preached – they are NOW dead, but the gospel had BEEN (past) preached to those who were alive (but NOW dead). It’s the same gospel being preached today, and it gives hope to those who wonder. An analogy is "I knew President Clinton in high school."  He was not president in high school, but the statement is still wholly true. That would be the sense in this passage.

Well, the key passages used to defend a descent are not so clear when used in context and in the historical setting. What passages offer the opposite view? Luke 23:43 is one. How can the thief be with Jesus in paradise immediately after he died if Jesus is going to hell? It is also commonly known that paradise in Hebrew thought of the 1st Century actually meant heaven – not just a holding place until judgment. Another verse to ponder is John 19:30 – “It is finished.” Christ accomplished all He needed to at Golgotha. He had no need to go to hell to do anything.  “It IS finished.” Finally, look at Luke 23:46: “into your hands I commit my spirit.” Christ’s intentions were to go and be in the immediate presence of the Father – see also Stephen’s confirmation of his faith of being in God’s presence in Acts 7:59. 

(The only sense I believe that Christ would have to be in the sense of the "Harrowing of Hell" in which He descended to proclaim his victory over sin and death, and rescue out those dead Saints. But I would say that today I believe that Christ's atoning work was completed on the Cross for His Church. If he did go into Hell on Saturday it would not be to receive any further punishment - he was going to be in Paradise with the thief who was beside him - that much we DO know for certain. But this is all speculation, and our true hope lies with His resurrection on Sunday!!)

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Passion Week - Good Friday

Religious Persecution

Let us first look at the events that transpired after Christ’s arrest on Thursday night.  There were three hearings before the Jewish authorities.  The first is before Annas.  John 18:13 “and led him off to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year.”  The account before Annas is in John 18:12-14, 19-23.  Annas was high priest from AD 6-15 and was followed by Caiaphas.  It seems that bringing Christ before Annas would have been out of respect for his office and Jewish law stating that the position is for life (Annas is even called “High Priest” in verse 19).  Jesus asks for evidence and witnesses (John 18:20-23) and is then sent to the High Priest Caiaphas (John 18:24).

Between the “trials” before Annas and Caiaphas, we have the account of Peter’s denials.  Peter and an unnamed disciple seem to have been the only disciples to follow Jesus (John 18:15).  Jesus had previously told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.  We have the account in John 18:25-27: 

In the meantime Simon Peter was still standing, keeping himself warm. Some of them said to him, "Surely you too are one of his disciples, aren't you?" And he denied it and said, "No, I am not." Then one of the High Priest's servants, a relation of the man (Malchus) whose ear Peter had cut off, remarked, "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?"  And again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crew.

The “trial” before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin that night was not official.  The Sanhedrin could not have a proceeding on the night of a Feast Day.  The proceeding with Caiaphas in the evening is reported in Mark 14:53-65.  They could really find no reason to prosecute Jesus, and their witnesses even contradicted each other:

Mark 14:55-56 - Meanwhile, the chief priests and the whole council were trying to find some evidence against Jesus which would warrant the death penalty. But they failed completely. There were plenty of people ready to give false testimony against him, but their evidence was contradictory.

Jesus’ reply to Caiaphas in Mark 14:62 had some strong implications - And Jesus said, "I am! Yes, you will all see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, coming in the clouds of heaven." 

Part of Jesus’ statement is from Daniel 7:13-14.  The other content of those verses would surely cause the Sanhedrin to see Jesus as claiming to be more than human.
Daniel 7:13-14  ‘I was seeing in the visions of the night, and lo, with the clouds of the heavens as a son of man was one coming, and unto the Ancient of Days he hath come, and before Him they have brought him near.  And to him is given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, and all peoples, nations, and languages do serve him, his dominion is a dominion age-during, that passeth not away, and his kingdom that which is not destroyed.

Mark 15:1 The moment daylight came the chief priests called together a meeting of elders, scribes and members of the whole council, bound Jesus and took him off and handed him over to Pilate.

They could now make an arrest legal.  It seems that the Sanhedrin quickly called together enough people to make a legal arrest.  We do know that there was not a unanimous vote as attested in Luke 23:50-51, but we will look at that later.

Civil Persecution

Since the Sanhedrin could not pronounce capital punishment on a person, they handed Jesus over to Roman Authorities. (John 18:31)  The only answer that Jesus gave Pilate was “Yes, I am” (Mark 15:2).  The priests kept accusing him and Pilate did not fully believe them.  Pilate had been warned by his wife, from a dream she had, that Jesus was innocent and that Pilate should have nothing to do with him (Matthew 27:19).  Pilate then sent Jesus to Herod when he found out that Jesus, being from Galilee, would be under Herod’s jurisdiction.  Herod, coincidentally, was in town for Passover.  Well, Herod questioned Jesus but Jesus did not respond.  So Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus and put a beautiful robe on him before sending him back to Pilate.  As a side note, Pilate and Herod became friends after this.  (Luke 23:6-12)

Luke 23:13-16 - Then Pilate summoned the chief priests, the officials and the people and addressed them in these words. "You have brought this man to me as a mischief-maker among the people, and I want you to realise that, after examining him in your presence, I have found nothing criminal about him, in spite of all your accusations. And neither has Herod, for he has sent him back to us. Obviously, then, he has done nothing to deserve the death penalty. I propose, therefore, to teach him a sharp lesson and let him go."

However, in the end, Pilate fell to the whims of the masses.  He even washed his hands of the mess (Matthew 27:24).  He freed a prisoner and imprisoned an innocent man.

Via Dolorosa – “The Sorrowful Way”

“Jesus of Nazareth underwent Jewish and Roman trials, was flogged, and was sentenced to death by crucifixion. The scourging produced deep stripelike lacerations and appreciable blood loss, and it probably set the stage for hypovolemic shock, as evidenced by the fact that Jesus was too weakened to carry the crossbar (patibulum) to Golgotha. At the site of crucifixion, his wrists were nailed to the patibulum and, after the patibulum was lifted onto the upright post (stipes), his feet were nailed to the stipes. The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion was an interference with normal respirations. Accordingly death resulted primarily from hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Jesus' death was ensured by the thrust of a soldier's spear into his side. Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence indicate that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross.” - William D. Edwards, MD; Wesley J. Gabel, MDiv; Floyd E Hosmer, MS, AMI 
Reprinted from JAMA - The Journal of the American Medical Association
March 21, 1986, Volume 256
Copyright 1986, American Medical Association

Jesus hung on the cross for three hours.  He had seven last “words” on which we will focus.

  1. "Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
  2. "I tell you truly, this day you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
  3. "Look, there is your son!" And then he said to the disciple, "And there is your mother!" (John 19:27)
  4. 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mark 15:34; Psalm 22:1)
  5. "I am thirsty." (John 19:28)
  6. "It is finished!" (John 19:30)
  7. "Father, 'into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5)

There were then some events that happened after the crucifixion.  First of all, there was a strange darkness that overcame the land (Mark 15:33, Julius Africanus – Greek Papyri 10.89).  The centurion at the cross is also convinced of Jesus’ innocence (Luke 23:47).  An earthquake occurred (Matthew 27:51), and tombs were opened and saints walked around (Matthew 27:52-53).  Jesus, by Jewish tradition, had to be buried before sundown, so Joseph of Arimethea got the corpse and buried Christ.  Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin and was not one who voted to condemn Christ (John 19:38).  Also accompanying Joseph was Nicodemus, from John 3 (John 19:39).  Was Nicodemus also a believer?  Had his heart been softened by being near Jesus on a couple of occasions?  Did the forthcoming resurrection convince him?  We don’t know.  He could have just been glad to see Jesus gone, but we cannot attest to that either.  Finally, the tomb was sealed (Matthew 27:62-66).  Surely Christ was in the tomb when they sealed it, but just a while later they tried claiming that the body was stolen (Matthew 28:11-15).  Good try, but He is risen!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Passion Week - Thursday

Before the Meal

Mark 14:3-9 – woman anoints Jesus’ head with perfume. 

This part of the text actually happened a few days prior.  Mark is about to relate the treachery of Judas, and this passage demonstrates some of Judas’s greed.  Mark does not relate his name to us, but in the parallel passage of John 12:4, Judas is the one that suggested selling the perfume.

Mark 14:10-11 - Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. And when they heard what he had to say, they were delighted and undertook to pay him for it. So he looked out for a convenient opportunity to betray him.

Mark 14:12-16 – Instructions to prepare for Passover
Mark 14:12 - On the first day of unleavened bread, the day when the Passover was sacrificed, Jesus' disciples said, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
Mark 14:13-15 - Jesus sent off two of them with these instructions, "Go into the town and you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him and say to the owner of the house to which he goes, 'The Master says, where is the room for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upstairs room all ready with the furnishings that we need. That is the place where you are to make our preparations."
Mark 14:16 - So the disciples set off and went into the town, found everything as he had told them, and prepared for the Passover.


Timeline of the Meal

Mark 14:17-26 – Passover meal (Exodus 12; Lev. 23:4-8; Numbers 9:1-14; Deuteronomy 16:1-8)

Mark focuses mostly on the betrayal in his account of the Passover meal.  John gives some more detail, and in Luke’s gospel, we see that there was a dispute amongst the Disciples about whom would be the greatest.

John 13:1-20 – Footwashing

John 13:3-5 - Jesus, with the full knowledge that the Father had put everything into his hands and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from the supper-table, took off his outer clothes, picked up a towel and fastened it round his waist. Then he poured water into the basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to dry them with the towel around his waist.

They then sit and partake of the meal - the breaking of the bread symbolizing our Savior’s Body and the drinking of the wine symbolizing our Savior’s Blood.

Luke 22:19 - Then he took a loaf and after thanking God he broke it and gave it to them, with these words, "This is my body which is given for you: do this in remembrance of me."
Luke 22:20-22 - So too, he gave them a cup after supper with the words, "This cup is the new agreement made in my own blood which is shed for you. Yet the hand of the man who is betraying me lies with mine at this moment on the table. The Son of Man goes on his appointed way: yet alas for the man by whom he is betrayed!"
Luke 22:23 - And at this they began to debate among themselves as to which of them would do this thing.

During the meal, Jesus shares with the disciples that one of them will betray Him.  They don’t seem to have any reason to simply think that Judas would be the one because they debate and question which disciple it will be:

Mark 14:19 - This shocked and distressed them and one after another they began to say to him, "Surely, I'm not the one?"

Jesus, however knew the exact one of His followers that would betray him:

John 13:26-27 - And Jesus answered, "It is the one I am going to give this piece of bread to, after I have dipped it in the dish." Then he took a piece of bread, dipped it in the dish and gave it to Simon's son, Judas Iscariot. After he had taken the piece of bread, Satan entered his heart. Then Jesus said to him, "Be quick about your business!"

Also, see John 13:18. It is also very likely that Jesus only told John in an aside that it would be the one who was receiving the bread - as the remainder of the disciples still asked each other who would be the betrayer.

Then, an extraordinary thing happens.  It is almost as if the disciples just don’t get it!  What happens right after the meal and after the lesson on being a servant given through the footwashing?

Luke 22:24 - And then a dispute arose among them as to who should be considered the most important

Then Jesus has to teach them again about servanthood.

Post-Meal Activities

Mark 14:27-31 – Peter’s Denial

John records more of the events that transpired after the Passover meal.  See John 14:1-17:26 for these events.
The highlights include John 14:1-31 and John 15:5-33 about Christ’s departure and return.  The parable of the vine and branches (John 15:1-17), strong opposition from the world (John 15:18-16:4), and Christ’s Prayer for himself (John 17:1-5), his disciples (John 17:6-19), and later followers (John 17:20-26).  The time has come (John 17:1); Christ now knows the hour is at hand.

The story picks back up with Mark’s account in chapter 14.
Mark 14:32-42 is the account of Christ and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Mark 14:32-42 - Then they arrived at a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to the disciples, "Sit down here while I pray." He took with him Peter, James and John, and began to be horror-stricken and desperately depressed. "My heart is nearly breaking," he told them. "Stay here and keep watch for me." Then he walked forward a little way and flung himself on the ground, praying that, if it were possible, he might not have to face the ordeal. "Dear Father," he said, "all things are possible to you. Please - let me not have to drink this cup! Yet it is not what I want but what you want." Then he came and found them fast asleep. He spoke to Peter, "Are you asleep, Simon? Couldn't you manage to watch for a single hour? Watch and pray, all of you, that you may not have to face temptation. Your spirit is willing, but human nature is weak." Then he went away again and prayed in the same words, and once more he came and found them asleep. they could not keep their eyes open and they did not know what to say for themselves. When he came back for the third time, he said "Are you still going to sleep and take your ease? All right - the moment has come: now you are going to see the Son of Man betrayed into the hands of evil men! Get up, let us be going! Look, here comes my betrayer!"

Verse 36 is the striking reality that Christ is actually human.  “Please - let me not have to drink this cup! Yet it is not what I want but what you want.”  He doesn’t want to physically have to go through what he knows will happen.  Blomberg, in “Jesus and the Gospels,” asserts “this is also a perfect example of a prayer not answered in the manner preferred by the person making the request, but through no fault of the pray-er! Hebrews 5:7 will later reflect on this text and insist that Christ ‘was heard because of his reverent submission.’ But the answer to Jesus’ prayer was resurrection after death, not exemption from it. God may often answer our most fervent prayers to be spared hard times in the same way.” (339)

Mark 14:43-52 is the account of Judas delivering over Christ to the authorities.  “So he walked straight up to Jesus, cried, "Master!" and kissed him affectionately.”  The revelation that this was actually Jesus shocked the authorities (When he said to them, "I am the man", they retreated and fell to the ground - John 18:4-9).  Then Peter drew a sword and cut off Malchus, the High Priest’s Servant’s, ear and Christ rebukes him (John 18:10-11).  Then Jesus points out that it was always in His timing for this to be fulfilled.  (Day after day I was with you in the Temple, teaching, and you never laid a finger on me. But the scriptures must be fulfilled. – Mark 14:49) Finally, the utterly saddening portion of this passage is in Mark 14:50 – “Then all the disciples deserted him and made their escape.”  It would appear that they could not believe their Messiah could be taken. “The Fourfold Gospel” states “All the predictions of Jesus had failed to prepare the apostles for the terrors of his arrest. Despite all his warnings, each apostle sought his own safety.” (693)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Passion Week - Wednesday

Note that there is nothing in the Biblical account of the Passion Week that Jesus (or others) can specifically be seen to have happened on Wednesday.  Perhaps this was just a day Christ spent with the disciples or even on his own.  But Scripture is silent.  One thing I left out of Tuesday’s portion is Mark 14:1-2 which seems to have occurred on Tuesday.

Mark 14:1-2 - In two days' time the festival of the Passover and of unleavened bread was due. Consequently, the chief priests and the scribes were trying to think of some trick by which they could get Jesus into their power and have him executed. "But it must not be during the festival," they said, "or there will be a riot."

With that behind us, how do we gently wade through the many events that happened on Tuesday?  Quotes in this section not noted are from Blomberg’s “Jesus and the Gospels” pages 318-328.  In Mark 11:27-33, the temple authorities thought they could trap Jesus, but Jesus trapped them.  They wanted to know the source of his authority, and he asked them to explain the source of John the Baptizer’s authority.  Well, to say that John’s authority was from man would be blasphemy to the masses and to say it was from God would make the authorities have to seriously question their entire worldview. Mark 12:1-12 is the parable of the tenants.  It seems to be “a clear jab at the leaders’ own authority.” (318).

Mark 12:13-37 shows that Christ was “the true fulfillment of the Passover.”  This is seen by the four sets of questions that correspond with Passover questions “(a) a question regarding a point of law…(b) a question with a note of scoffing…(c) a question by a person of ‘plain piety’…(d) a question by the father of the family at his own initiative.” (318) Also interesting to note is that in verse 36, Psalm 110 is quoted.  This is the Old Testament passage most quoted in the New Testament.

Matthew 23 was the second part of Tuesday’s events.  Just as Matthew begins Christ’s teachings with the Sermon on the Mount and 9 blessings, this last set of Christ’s teachings contains 7 “woes.”  This is said to be the worst curse a man could have placed upon himself.  Christ condemned the Jewish leaders 7 times.  Robertson, in his NT Word Pictures makes the point that “the Textus Receptus has eight woes, adding verse 14 which the Revised Version places in the margin (called verse 13 by Westcott and Hort and rejected on the authority of Aleph B D as a manifest gloss from Mark 12:40 and Luke 20:47). The MSS. that insert it put it either before 13 or after 13.”

Jay Green, in the “Translation Notes for the Gospels,” expounds upon the word “hypocrite.”  The word could be translated players, actors, pretenders shut up - from a word meaning key - they had grabbed the key, shut the door, and locked out everyone so that their interpretation could not be challenged - now modern versionists are seeking to do the same with our generation.”

Matthew 23:38 ties in with Christ’s prophecy of Mark 13.  It is a prophecy 40 years early of the destruction of the temple.  Mark 13 is also the chapter corresponding to Matthew 24.  The Temple was an awesome structure.  It’s reported by Josephus that some of the stones were 25x8x12 cubits – this is roughly 41x13x20 feet.  It was, indeed, “wonderful stonework.”

Mark 13:9-23 lists persecutions of the disciples.  Verse 9 could be extremely prophetic of a particular Apostle who was not even with Christ when he was going through these persecutions.  I am referring to Paul.  Verse 9 states:  You yourselves must keep your wits about you, for men will hand you over to their councils, and will beat you in their synagogues. You will have to stand in front of rulers and kings for my sake to bear your witness to them.”  Going through Acts, note chapter 23:1 – “Paul looked steadily at the Sanhedrin [council] and spoke to them.”  Paul was also beaten, but he even fulfilled Christ’s prophecy if you look at Acts 26:11 – “Many and many a time in all the synagogues I had them punished and I used to try and force them to deny their Lord.”  Also, in Acts 24:24-25, Paul was before Felix and in Acts 26:2-3 Paul was before Agrippa.  These two were “rulers and kings.”  What was Paul doing other than “bearing his witness to them”?

In Mark 13:21-37 Jesus is warning of false Christs as well as urging the disciples to “keep their eyes open” or “keep on the alert.”

Finally, Mark 14:1-2 seems to demonstrate that the plans of men sometimes fail and that, especially in regards to the crucifixion, that God’s timing will always overshadow the plans of man.  See Acts 2:23 and 4:28.  The authorities didn’t plan on doing anything during the Passover week, but their plans were not God’s plans.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Passion Week - Tuesday

There were many teachings of Jesus that are recorded as happening on Tuesday of the Holy Week. However, is acknowledged that nothing is documented as occurring on the Wednesday, so I will add some commentary for Tuesday’s events in the Wednesday portion of this passion week.

For now, we will simply read the scriptures.  All scripture is from Mark except for the passage in Matthew 23 which is also attributed to Tuesday. All headings and sections below are from the Phillips NT in Modern English.

Jesus' authority is directly challenged
Mark 11:27-28 - So they came once more to Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the Temple, the chief priests, elders and scribes approached him, and asked, "What authority have you for what you're doing? And who gave you permission to do these things?"
Mark 11:29-30 - "I am going to ask you a question," replied Jesus, "and if you answer me, I will tell you what authority I have for what I do. The baptism of John, now - did it come from Heaven or was it purely human? Tell me that."
Mark 11:31-32 - At this they argued with each other, "If we say from Heaven, he will say, 'then why didn't you believe in him?' but if we say it was purely human, well ..." For they were frightened of the people, since all of them believed that John was a real prophet.
Mark 11:33 - So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." "Then I cannot tell you by what authority I do these things," returned Jesus.
Mark 12:1a - Then he began to talk to them in parables.
Mark 12:1b-11 - "A man once planted a vineyard," he said, "fenced it round, dug out the hole for the wine-press and built a watch-tower. Then he let it out to some farm-workers and went abroad. At the end of the season he sent a servant to the tenants to receive his share of the vintage. But they got hold of him, knocked him about and sent him off empty-handed. The owner tried again. He sent another servant to them, but this one they knocked on the head and generally insulted. Once again he sent them another servant, but him they murdered. He sent many others and some they beat up and some they murdered. He had one man left - his own son who was very dear to him. He sent him last of all to the tenants, saying to himself, 'They will surely respect my own son.' But they said to each other, 'This fellow is the future owner - come on, let's kill him, and the property will be ours! So they got hold of him and murdered him, and threw his body out of the vineyard. What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard is going to do? He will come and destroy the men who were working his vineyard and will hand it over to others. Have you never read this scripture - 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?'"
Mark 12:12 - Then they tried to get their hands on him, for they knew perfectly well that he had aimed this parable at them - but they were afraid of the people. So they left him and went away.
A test question
Mark 12:13-15a - Later they sent some of the Pharisees and some of the Herod-party to trap him in an argument. They came up and said to him, "Master, we know that you are an honest man and that you are not swayed by men's opinion of you. Obviously you don't care for human approval but teach the way of God with the strictest regard for truth - is it right to pay tribute to Caesar or not: are we to pay or not to pay?"
Mark 12:15b - But Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, "Why try this trick on me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it."
Mark 12:16 - So they brought one to him. "Whose face is this?" asked Jesus, "and whose name is in the inscription?"
Mark 12:17 - "Caesar's," they replied. And Jesus said, "Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God!" - a reply which staggered them.
Jesus reveals the ignorance of the Sadducees
Mark 12:18-23 - Then some of the Sadducees (a party which maintains that there is no resurrection) approached him, and put this question to him, "Master, Moses instructed us that if a man's brother dies leaving a widow but no child, then the man should marry the woman and raise children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers, and the first one married and died without leaving issue. Then the second one married the widow and died leaving no issue behind him. The same thing happened with the third, and indeed the whole seven died without leaving any child behind them. Finally the woman died. Now in this 'resurrection', when men will rise up again, whose wife is she going to be - for she was the wife of all seven of them?"
Mark 12:24-27 - Jesus replied, "Does not this show where you go wrong - and how you fail to understand both the scriptures and the power of God? When people rise from the dead they neither marry nor are they given in marriage; they live like the angels in Heaven. But as for this matter of the dead being raised, have you never read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him in these words, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not God of the dead but of living men! That is where you make your great mistake!"
The most important commandments
Mark 12:28 - Then one of the scribes approached him. He had been listening to the discussion, and noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he put this question to him, "What are we to consider the greatest commandment of all?"
Mark 12:29-31 - "The first and most important one is this," Jesus replied - 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength'. The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself'. No other commandment is greater than these."
Mark 12:32-33 - "I am well answered," replied the scribe. "You are absolutely right when you say that there is one God and no other God exists but him; and to love him with the whole of our hearts, the whole of our intelligence and the whole of our energy, and to love our neighbours as ourselves is infinitely more important than all these burnt-offerings and sacrifices."
Mark 12:34 - The Jesus, noting the thoughtfulness of his reply, said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God!" After this nobody felt like asking him any more questions.
Jesus criticises the scribes' teaching and behaviour
Mark 12:35-36 - Later, while Jesus was teaching in the Temple he remarked, "How can the scribes make out the Christ is David's son, for David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool'.
Mark 12:37 - David is himself calling Christ 'Lord' - where do they get the idea that he is his son?"
Mark 12:38-40 - The vast crowd heard this with great delight and Jesus continued in his teaching, "Be on your guard against these scribes who love to walk about in long robes and to be greeted respectfully in public and to have the front seats in the synagogue and the best places at dinner-parties! These are the men who grow fat on widow's property and cover up what they are doing by making lengthy prayers. They are only adding to their own punishment!"
Mark 12:41-44 - Then Jesus sat down opposite the Temple almsbox and watched the people putting their money into it. A great many rich people put in large sums. Then a poor widow came up and dropped in two little coins, worth together about a halfpenny. Jesus called his disciples to his side and said to them, "Believe me, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. For they have all put in what they can easily afford, but she in her poverty who needs so much, has given away everything, her whole living!"
Matthew 23

He publicly warns the people against their religious leaders
Matthew 23:1-12 - Then Jesus addressed the crowds and his disciples. "The scribes and the Pharisees speak with the authority of Moses," he told them, "so you must do what they tell you and follow their instructions. But you must not imitate their lives! For they preach but do not practise. They pile up back-breaking burdens and lay them on other men's shoulders - yet they themselves will not raise a finger to move them. Their whole lives are planned with an eye to effect. They increase the size of their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their robes; they love seats of honour at dinner parties and front places in the synagogues. They love to be greeted with respect in public places and to have men call them 'rabbi!' Don't you ever be called 'rabbi' - you have only one teacher, and all of you are brothers. And don't call any human being 'father' - for you have one Father and he is in Heaven. And you must not let people call you 'leaders' - you have only one leader, Christ! The only 'superior' among you is the one who serves the others. For every man who promotes himself will be humbled, and every man who learns to be humble will find promotion.
Matthew 23:13-14 - "But alas for you, you scribes and Pharisees, play-actors that you are! You lock the door of the kingdom of Heaven in men's faces; you will not go in yourselves neither will you allow those at the door to go inside.
Matthew 23:15 - "Alas for you, you scribes and Pharisees, play-actors! You scour sea and land to make a single convert, and then you make him twice as ripe for destruction as you are yourselves.
Matthew 23:16-22 - "Alas for you, you blind leaders! You say, 'if anyone swears by the Temple it amounts to nothing, but if he swears by the gold of the Temple he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools, which is the more important, the gold or the Temple which sanctifies the gold? And you say, 'If anyone swears by the altar it doesn't matter, but if he swears by the gift placed on the altar he is bound by his oath.' Have you no eyes - which is more important, the gift, or the altar which sanctifies the gift? Any man who swears by the altar is swearing by the altar and whatever is offered upon it; and anyone who swears by the Temple is swearing by the Temple and by him who dwells in it; and anyone who swears by Heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by the one who sits upon that throne.
Matthew 23:23-24 - "Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you utter frauds! For you pay your tithe on mint and aniseed and cummin, and neglect the things which carry far more weight in the Law - justice, mercy and good faith. These are the things you should have observed - without neglecting the others. You call yourselves leaders, and yet you can't see an inch before your noses, for you filter out the mosquito and swallow the camel.
Matthew 23:25-26 - "What miserable frauds you are, you scribes and Pharisees! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, while the inside is full of greed and self-indulgence. Can't you see, Pharisee? First wash the inside of a cup, and then you can clean the outside.
Matthew 23:27-28 - "Alas for you, you hypocritical scribes and Pharisees! You are like white-washed tombs, which look fine on the outside but inside are full of dead men's bones and all kinds of rottenness. For you appear like good men on the outside - but inside you are a mass of pretence and wickedness.
Matthew 23:29-36 - "What miserable frauds you are, you scribes and Pharisees! You build tombs for the prophets, and decorate monuments for good men of the past, and then say, 'If we had lived in the times of our ancestors we should never have joined in the killing of the prophets.' Yes, 'your ancestors' - that shows you to be sons indeed of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead then, and finish off what your ancestors tried to do! You serpents, you viper's brood, how do you think you are going to avoid being condemned to the rubbish-heap? Listen to this: I am sending you prophets and wise and learned men; and some of these you will kill and crucify, other you will flog in your synagogues and hunt from town to town. So that on your hands is all the innocent blood spilt on this earth, from the blood of Abel the good to the blood of Zachariah, Barachiah's son, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Yes, I tell you that all this will be laid at the doors of this generation.
Jesus mourns over Jerusalem, and foretells its destruction
Matthew 23:37-39 - "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You murder the prophets and stone the messengers that are sent to you. How often have I longed to gather your children round me like a bird gathering her brood together under her wing - and you would never have it. Now all you have left is your house. I tell you that you will never see me again till the day when you cry, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

Jesus prophesies the ruin of the Temple

Mark 13:1 - Then as Jesus was leaving the Temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Master, what wonderful stonework, what a size these building are!"
Mark 13:2 - Jesus replied, "You see these great buildings? Not a single stone will be left standing on another; every one will be thrown down!"
Mark 13:3-4 - Then while he was sitting on the slope of the Mount of Olives facing the Temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew said to him privately, "Tell us, when will these things happen? What sign will there be that all these things are going to be accomplished?"
Mark 13:5-11 - So Jesus began to tell them: "Be very careful that no one deceives you. Many are going to come in my name and say, 'I am he', and will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, don't be alarmed. such things are bound to happen, but the end is not yet. Nation will take up arms against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in different places and terrible famines. But this is only the beginnings of 'the pains'. You yourselves must keep your wits about you, for men will hand you over to their councils, and will beat you in their synagogues. You will have to stand in front of rulers and kings for my sake to bear your witness to them - for before the end comes the Gospel must be proclaimed to all nations. But when they are taking you off to trial, do not worry beforehand about what you are going to say - simply say the words you are given when the time comes. For it not really you who will speak, but the Holy Spirit.
Jesus foretells utter misery
Mark 13:12-13 - "A brother is going to betray his own brother to death, and a father his own child. Children will stand up against their parents and condemn them to death. There will come a time when the whole world will hate you because you are known as my followers. Yet the man who holds out to the end will be saved.
Mark 13:14-20 - "But when you see 'the abomination of desolation' standing where it ought not - (let the reader take note of this) - then those who are in Judea must fly to the hills! The man on his house-top must not go down nor go into his house to fetch anything out of it, and the man in the field must not turn back to fetch his coat. Alas for the women who are pregnant at that time, and alas for those with babies at their breasts! Pray God that it may not be winter when that time comes, for there will be such utter misery in those days as had never been from the creation until now - and never will be again. Indeed, if the Lord did not shorten those days, no human beings could survive. But for the sake of the people whom he has chosen he has shortened those days.
He warns against false christs, and commands vigilance
Mark 13:21-23 - "If anyone tells you at that time, 'Look, here is Christ', or 'Look, there he is', don't believe it! For false christs and false prophets will arise and will perform signs and wonders, to deceive, if it be possible, even the men of God's choice. You must keep your eyes open! I am giving you this warning before it happens.
Mark 13:24-25 - "But when that misery is past, 'the light of the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give her light; stars will be falling from the sky and the powers of heaven will rock on their foundations'.
Mark 13:26-27 - Then men shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send out his angels to summon his chosen together from every quarter, from furthest earth to highest heaven.
Mark 13:28-33 - "Let the fig-tree illustrate this for you: when its branches grow tender and produce leaves, you know that summer is near, at your very doors! I tell you that this generation will not have passed until all these things have come true. Earth and sky will pass away, but what I have told you will never pass away! But no one knows the day or the hour of this happening, not even the angels in Heaven, no, not even the Son - only the Father. Keep your eyes open, keep on the alert, for you do not know when the time will be.
Mark 13:34-37 -"It is as if a man who is travelling abroad had left his house and handed it over to be managed by his servants. He has given each one his work to do and has ordered the doorkeeper to be on the look-out for his return. Just so must you keep a look-out, for you do not know when the master of the house will come - it might be late evening, or midnight, or cock-crow, or early morning - otherwise he might come unexpectedly and find you sound asleep. What I am saying to you I am saying to all; keep on the alert!"

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Passion Week - Monday

Let us continue with the events that occurred on Monday.  Mark relates these to us in Chapter 11 Verses 12-19.

Mark 11:12-14 - On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Robertson, in his NT Word Pictures, states of verse 13 that “The early figs in Palestine do not get ripe before May or June, the later crop in August. It was not the season of figs, Mark notes. But this precocious tree in a sheltered spot had put out leaves as a sign of fruit. It had promise without performance.”

Mark 11:15-17 - And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Of verse 15, the Geneva Bible Footnotes state that “Christ shows that he is indeed the true King and high Priest, and therefore the one who takes revenge upon those who do not show proper reverence for the holy function of the temple.”  Also, Christ had previously cleansed the Temple in John 2.  His words “den of thieves” in this passage were not as kind as those in His first cleansing.  In John 2:16, Christ said “Don't you dare turn my Father's house into a market!”  Verse 16 is interesting in that it appears that people were using the Temple as a thoroughfare – just carrying their “water-pots” or “vessels” through it.  Christ even stopped this.  He then quotes Isaiah 56:7 as the proclamation that the Temple (God’s house) will be open to all nations for prayer, but then declares that the path of Jeremiah 7:11 was taken and that now it has become a “den of thieves!”

Mark 11:18-19 - And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.

Again, Christ has now angered the religious people.  This time, it was both Sadducees and Pharisees.  However, His teachings had gotten the masses on His side (they are still hoping He is the conquering Messiah). Although those who were praising him on Sunday would be asking for his crucifixion on Friday.

The Passion Week - Sunday

The week will begin with today, Sunday, with Christ's entrance into Jerusalem.  Mark's account is from Chapter 11 verses 1-11.  Background information may also be added for each day with the source noted.  Let us first look at the Scripture:


Mark 11:1-10
Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”

Craig L. Blomberg, in his book "Jesus and the Gospels," states that "this ragtag band of followers accompanying a Galilean peasant riding a donkey would have looked like a parody of the standard welcome and fanfare for governors and generals astride their white horses with a retinue of soldiers." (314) The prophetic passage for the "triumphal entry" is Zechariah 9:9.  Note also 2 Kings 9:13 and 1 Maccabees 13:51 (And entered into it the three and twentieth day of the second month in the hundred seventy and first year, with thanksgiving, and branches of palm trees, and with harps, and cymbals, and with viols, and hymns, and songs: because there was destroyed a great enemy out of Israel.) for other historical accounts of the greeting of rulers.  Jesus was not on a warhorse like the messiah many would have expected, but He was riding a donkey - "an animal of peace and humility."  (Blomberg, 315)  The time for Jesus to ride on a horse will come later... (Revelation 19:11 ff.)

Was riding into Jerusalem the only thing Christ did on Sunday?  No, after His entry, note verse 11 -

Mark 11:11
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple and looked round on all that was going on. And then, since it was already late in the day, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Jesus also went into the temple area.  Perhaps He was just seeing what he had to do on Monday.  (Mark 11:15-19)