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That’s What You Said…

“Jesus said to him, ‘That’s what you say. Nevertheless, I tell you from now on you will witness the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

(Matthew 26:64)

 

“But Jesus said, ‘I am. and you will see the Son of Man seated on the right hand of power and coming with the clouds from heaven.’”

(Mark 14:62)

 

“‘From now on, the Son of Man will be seated on the right hand of the Power of God.’ So, they all said to him, ‘Are you therefore the Son of God?’ So he said to them, ‘You say that I am.’”

(Luke 22:69-70)

 

On a surface level there would seem to be a bit of a discrepancy between Mark’s account of Jesus’ statements and the account recorded by Matthew and Luke. Of course, they all record the questioning of Caiaphas that leads up to this point, asking Jesus if he is the Christ. Yet, in the record of Jesus’ response there is some variation. Mark records Jesus as plainly affirming the question by stating, ejgo/ eijmi — “I am.” Matthew and Luke, on the other hand, record Jesus saying, “That’s what you say” and “You say that I am” respectively.

So, what shall we make of this? We know in approaching the text that this is the Inspired word of God, so we cannot dismiss the potential discrepancy as an error in the record, but must ask the question as to how these two presentations fit together. The simple harmony would be to see Jesus making both statements and each Gospel writer presenting what they considered to be the most significant portion of what Jesus said, but the question that follows would be as to why. In addition, based on the statements of Jesus to follow that he is not hiding his divine claim, so the suggestion that Jesus’ statement, “That’s what you say,” is meant to hide his identity is unfounded, thus we must look deeper.

Imagine the conversation (based on the three accounts) sounding something like this:

Caiaphas: “Are you the Christ?”

Jesus: “That’s what you said and I am. And from this time on, you will see me…”

Caiaphas: “Then are you the Son of God?”

Jesus: “You already said that I am.”

The reality is that by Caiaphas’ extreme action, arrest, trial, and planned execution of Jesus, he is betraying that he understands that Jesus is the promised Messiah and he wants nothing of him because a Messiah would bring change to his power, wealth, and authority as High Priest. Thus, he is condemning himself by his own actions. Think about it, conspiracy theories abound in our culture today and they often make quite entertaining fiction. Yet, in most cases, the entities about which the conspiracy theories revolve typically don’t make much of a fuss over the matter. But when a fuss is made and a cover-up attempted, it is typically a clue that there is perhaps something to such a theory. Here is one more illustration of that principle. If Caiaphas thought Jesus a ridiculous impostor, he would largely have ignored him and discredited him based on Biblical prophesies about the Messiah. Such a thing never happened; instead, Caiaphas sought to cover up the truth by putting Jesus to death. Something is to be said for Caiaphas’ acknowledgment and rejection — and Jesus does so by speaking judgment, but we get ahead of ourselves.

While it is easy to judge Caiaphas for his wickedness, as Christians we also ought to take into account the way we speak and act as well as the times we reject Jesus by our words and actions. How often, when given the opportunity to take a stand for the Truth of God’s word, we back down. How often we simply speak or act in a way that dishonors God. How often we too need to be reminded that in judgment we will see Jesus sitting at the right hand of power as judge and will be held accountable for our actions and words. The good news is that in repentance there is forgiveness, but do not forget, beloved, that repentance means we turn away from our sins and seek Christ and his righteousness. May we indeed do just that.

Time, Time, and What We Do with Our Time

“And, when the day came, the Elders of the people gathered with the Chief Priests and the Scribes and they led him to their Sanhedrin.”

(Luke 22:66)

 

“And they led Jesus away to the High Priest and all of the Chief Priests, the Elders, and the Scribes.”

(Mark 14:53)

 

The scriptures record that after Jesus’ interview with Annas he was sent to Caiaphas, but we don’t know a lot about the initial confrontation with the official High Priest of the people. Instead, the focus shifts to Peter in the courtyard and his denials. What we do know is that these events took place very late at night and towards the morning, thus, as Jesus is brought to Caiaphas, Caiaphas then takes Jesus before the Sanhedron — the formal legal body of the Jewish people centered in Jerusalem. Here, the “formal” trial will begin.

There is some degree of concern as to Luke’s reference of the day coming while Mark and Matthew do not mention the morning rising until later in the narrative. One might be tempted to resolve this dilemma by pointing to the difference in how the Jewish culture and the Roman culture marked time — the Jewish people marking a new day as starting at sundown (reflecting the creation account that there was “evening and morning…”) and the Roman people typically marking the start of a new day at midnight.

Yet, this approach raises more questions than it answers for two reasons. The first is that the Romans, being a world power, accommodated themselves to the territories in which they ruled, so there was a great deal of flexibility between the official Roman timetable when it came to festivals or political events and the common recording of time marked by people under the Roman Empire. The second reason, and a more significant one, is that Mark records Jesus’ death as taking place during “the ninth hour” (Mark 15:33). As Jesus is typically understood to have been on the cross from 12:00-3:00 PM, that means that Mark was beginning his day at 6:00 AM.

A simpler way to harmonize this is to see Matthew and Mark’s later, but more specific reference to “morning” as just that, the morning of the new day as the sun has risen and the hours of daytime are beginning to be counted (likely around 6:00 AM, or the “first hour”). Thus here, in Luke’s account, what we find is that the day is beginning to be near — arguably the first lightening of the darkness has begun and the new day is anticipated. And foreseeing the new day, Caiaphas takes Jesus to the Sanhedron for a pre-arranged trial to end Jesus’ ministry permanently.

Perhaps what is most important, though, is the presence of the whole council of Jewish leadership that will now be present. Indeed, this was required for major offenses to be tried, but it also makes all of them culpable in the execution of our Lord. How sad it is when those who have committed themselves to a study of God’s word are so blind as to miss seeing the one to whom the Word points. And, what is also important to remember is that these men stand as representatives not only of the Jewish people of their time, but of we Gentiles as well. It is because of all of our Sin that Jesus had to face these hostile men and die a sinner’s death. We were the one’s rightly condemned in this trial, but Jesus took that condemnation upon himself.

Loved ones, pursue Christ and do so with all your heart. Do not miss Christ in the scriptures as these scholarly men did and do not miss him in the person in the Gospel accounts. All of our hope rests in Jesus and in his completed work — not in anything we might do or achieve. He is worthy not only of our praise, but also of our sacrifice and service — may we all live our lives accordingly.

The Rooster Crows a Second Time

“Then he began to curse and to take an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ and at once the rooster crowed.”

(Matthew 26:74)

 

“Then he began to place himself under a curse and take an oath, ‘I do not know the man of whom you speak!’ And at once the rooster crowed a second time and Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, three times you will deny me.’ And he fell down and wept.”

(Mark 14:71-72)

 

“But Peter said, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about!’ Immediately, even as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.”

(Luke 22:60)

 

“Again, Peter disowned him and at once the rooster crowed.”

(John 18:27)

 

It has been said that the tradition of putting a rooster on top of a weathervane is meant as a reminder of the denial of Peter and how often, by our words and by our actions, we too fall into that sin. As we reflected before, isn’t it curious as to how God uses such a variety of things to remind us of our sin and to call us to righteousness. And now, through history, we are reminded of this great truth any time such a bird crows.

We have already noted that Mark is the only one that records that the rooster actually crowed twice, something that ought not be too surprising given that traditionally Mark is understood as having been Peter’s secretary in Jerusalem — and if anyone would know how many times the rooster crowed, Peter would.

What should weigh more heavily on your soul, though, is the cursing that takes place on Peter’s part. As has been mentioned, Peter is desperate. On one level he is desperate to follow Jesus and find out what is going to happen to his master. On another level, he is rightfully afraid for his life. There is no telling what this mob will do if they get their hands on Peter. Peter knows that and the words that fall from his lips reflect the reality that he is acting in that desperation. You can almost hear him screaming, “Just leave me alone!” to those who keep prodding him. And, then, this third disowning of Jesus is wed together with curses.

Interestingly, Matthew and Mark describe the curses somewhat differently. Matthew simply describes him cursing or swearing that his words are true. Mark adds that this curse was an imprecation against himself — something along the lines of, “May God strike me down if I am not telling the truth.” These must have been devastating words for Peter to utter and then to hear the crowing of the rooster following right on its heels, it must have been a crushing blow. Peter was reduced to a broken man.

Yet, that is not the end of Peter’s story. The difference between Peter’s story and Jude’s story is ultimately one about forgiveness — both from God and by oneself. Judas rejected Jesus just as plainly as Jesus did and both were broken men. Yet in God’s design, Judas bore the blame of his betrayal to the grave and into eternity. Peter, though broken, clung to hope and in God’s design was not only brought to forgiveness, but remade into the bold preacher we find in the book of Acts. What a transformation takes place between these verses and Acts 2, just a couple months later!

But that is how God works, is it not! Through the process of breaking God shows us that He is sovereign, that He orders our days, and that He is King and Ruler over the universe. We serve Him, not He us. We get ahead of ourselves if we explore Peter’s three-fold forgiveness here, but we need to at least be reminded that for Peter, as dark as this night may be, the day is coming and the story is not yet over — and praise be to God that such is the case! May you too rest in the knowledge that no matter how dark the days may seem — God is not done with you either.

The First Accusation

“But Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the slave-girls approached him saying, ‘You were also with Jesus the Galilean.’”

(Matthew 26:69)

 

“And Peter was down in the courtyard and one of the slave-girls came and saw Peter warming himself. Looking at him intently she said, ‘You are with the Nazarine, Jesus.’”

(Mark 14:66-67)

 

“And a certain slave-girl saw him sitting towards the light and looking intently at him said, ‘This man was also with him!’”

(Luke 22:56)

 

“The slave-girl that was at the door said to Peter, ‘Aren’t you also from the disciples of this man?’ He said, ‘I am not.’”

(John 18:17)

 

 

This is the first of the challenges that leads to the first of Peter’s denials. Though John includes the challenge and the denial in the same verse, we will be focusing right now on the challenge. In the arrangement of the verses above, I have taken John 18:17 out of order not to imply a rearrangement of events, but to better group the discussions around the challenges to Peter. It seems, based on the accounts, that this first challenge takes place as Jesus is being questioned by Annas, so the rearrangement should not cause too much difficulty for us.

The same thing can be said of the slave-girl that questions Peter. Some would suggest that these are two separate denials — one taking place at the doorway when Peter comes in and one taking place at the fire where he is sitting. Yet, the only thing that the language of the doorway really implies is in connection to the slave-girl. She is not any slave-girl in general, but the slave-girl from the doorway — whom we see referred to in John 18:16 as “the doorkeeper.” Perhaps Peter’s appearance did not register with her right away or was not clear in the lower light by the doorway, but something also did not sit well with her and she followed him to the fire to confirm her suspicions.

This reading would be affirmed by the language of Mark and Luke who write of her “looking intently” at Peter. She wants to make clear her suspicions and will follow up with a question that is little more than a veiled accusation. Remember, this courtyard is hostile territory and the mob filling the court is out for blood. Thus, this question should not be seen as an innocent matter — she is making an accusation that could have cost Peter his life (a life he had earlier that evening promised to give, though it was not God’s time). How Peter responds next is inexcusable in many ways, but reasonable at least on human terms, but we get ahead of ourselves.

This is the first of the accusations or challenges — two more will come for Peter. Such is how Satan sifts Peter like wheat, but such is also how God teaches his own faith, trust, humility, and obedience. What Satan intends for evil; God intends for good. What an amazing God we serve.

Birth Announcements

I.  The Birth of John the Baptist Announced

            A.  John’s Parents

                        1.  Zechariah the priest (name means “Yahweh has remembered”)

                        2.  Elizabeth of the house of Aaron (name means “My God is an Oath”)

                        3.  Both parents from a priestly line—not a common thing to happen

            B.  Herod

                        1.  John’s righteous parents set in history against the background of a

     tyrannical ruler

                        2.  Herod the Great had been given an army by Rome to conquer as much

     as he chose to rule

            C.  Zechariah in the Temple

                        1.  Lighting the incense

                                    a.  The altar of incense was one of the pieces of furniture in the

     Holy Place of the temple

                                    b.  The Incense was lit 2x per day so that it would perpetually burn

     as a sign of the prayers of God’s people perpetually before him

2.  The prayers of the priests were ones connected with the coming

     Messiah (angel pronounces his prayers answered in Luke 1:13)

                        3.  This privilege was drawn by lot and was a once in a lifetime privilege,

     and many never got to do it—note God’s hand at work in the timing

            D.  Zechariah’s response

                        1.  Zechariah responds in doubt, his tongue mis-speaks and thus, his

     tongue is silenced

                        2.  In contrast, Mary will pose a question, but it is a question asked in

     faith, thus, she is not rebuked

            E.  Restrictions on John

                        1.  John will be forbidden to drink wine or strong drink from birth

                        2.  This is likely a Nazarite vow that is given to him (note Samuel’s

     Dedication in 1 Samuel 1:11)

                                    a.  under such a vow they could not

                                                i.  drink wine and alcohol (could not even eat grapes)

                                                ii.  cut their hair

                                                iii.  be near a dead body

                                    b.  see Numbers 6:1-10

            F.  Both John and Jesus given names

                        1.  John means “Yahweh has been gracious”

                        2.  Jesus means “Salvation” or “he will save his people from their sins”

                                    -Jesus comes from the name Joshua

 

II.  Birth of Jesus announced

A.  Note that Zechariah and Elizabeth are both in the line of Aaron and Joseph

      and Mary are in the line of Judah

            B.  The Greeting to Mary

                        1.  “Greetings O Favored One”

                        2.  Note this is an emphasis on her being favored because of what God is

     doing in her, not because of who she is.

                        3.  She responds in shock at such a greeting given her lowly status

                        4.  Though is befuddled, she responds in faith (see 1:45)

            C.  Title given to Jesus is “Son of the Most High”

                        1.  This is the Greek word u¢yistoß (hupsistos), which when used

      substantivally (as a noun) always refers to God himself

                        2.  This Greek word is used to translate the Hebrew word !Ayl.[, (elyon)

     which also is used in the Old Testament to refer to God

            -Elyon means “God most High”

3.  This is the name of God attributed to Jesus’ sonship—a clear statement

      that Jesus is the Son of the covenant God of Israel (Amy Grant song,

      “El Shaddai”—which means “God Almighty”)

            D.  Mary’s Song

                        1.  Called the “Magnificat” meaning “the praises” from Latin

                        2.  See 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and compare Mary’s Song with Hannah’s prayer

            E.  Note the 2 names given to Jesus in Matthew’s account

                        1.  Jesus-“for he will save his people from their sins”

                        2.  Immanuel-“God with us”

 

Genealogies

I.  The Purpose of a genealogy

            A.  they establish Jesus’ credentials

            B.  Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience takes his genealogy back to Abraham

                        1.  Matthew picks up where the genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 leave off

                        2.  Matthew’s emphasis is on the fulfillment of Jesus’ Sonship in terms of

     the Abrahamic promise

3.  Note prominence of David and Abraham in Matthew’s genealogy

            C.  Luke, writing to a Gentile audience, takes his genealogy back to Adam

                        1.  Luke wants to show that the whole world has a connection to Jesus

                        2.  Luke emphasizes Sonship in terms of Jesus’ divine Sonship

                        3.  Luke also emphasizes Jesus as the “second Adam”, which is why the

     genealogy is found just before the temptation account—showing that

     Jesus succeeded where Adam failed (see 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 and

     Romans 5:12-14)

            D.  The point is that Jesus has the proper credentials to be the agent of salvation

      not only of the Jews but of the whole world!

II.  Differences between Matthew and Luke’s genealogies

            A.  Matthew traces from David to Solomon, Luke from David to Nathan

            B.  Luke has significantly more people in his genealogy

            C.  Matthew leaves out 4 kings in his line

                        1.  Joash, Amaziah, Ahaziah, and Jehoiakim

                        2.  These 4 kings were connected to curses in Hebrew tradition

            D.  Matthew’s three groups of 14 aren’t really fourteen (to make it work there is

      duplication in the third but not the second)

III.  Solutions

A.  Luther proposed that Luke’s genealogy was traced through Mary and   

      Matthew’s through Joseph

B.  Also has been proposed that Luke’s genealogy is a biological genealogy of

      Jesus and Matthew’s is a theological or “kingly” geneaology

C.  The point is that Jewish genealogies were not done to see all of the biological

      connections, but their purpose was to show a theological connection to the

      covenant body—Matthew’s certainly does this

IV.  The Women—Matthew’s genealogy contains 5 women—very unusual

            A.  Tamar (Genesis 38:27-30)—seduced her father in law by masquerading as a

      prostitute

            B.  Rahab (Joshua 2)—a prostitute

            C.  Ruth (Ruth)—a Moabitess, the Moabites descended from the incestuous

                    relationship of Lot and his daughter

            D.  The Wife of Uriah (Bathsheba—2 Samuel 11&12, also Psalm 51)—an

      adultress

            E.  The point?  Jesus’ messiahship is not just for those who are “in authority” but

      is for all kinds of people