Friday, March 28, 2014

#40daybible Day 25 (Matthew 26-28)

So ends the fifth week of the 40 Day Bible experience, finishing up the Gospel of Matthew.

Here are some highlights:
  • The anointing of Jesus at Bethany, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus' arrest, his appearance before the high priest and elders, and Peter's denial in Matthew 26 are mostly taken straight, sometimes almost word for word, from Mark 14.
  • Matthew 27 is mostly Mark 15 but with some unique features. For example, only Matthew among the Gospels shows Judas with buyer's remorse. Only in Matthew does it say that Judas hanged himself. Here is also one of the minor distinctions between the Gospels. In Matthew the priests buy the field where Judas' body ends up while in Acts 1 Judas himself buys the field.
  • Matthew uniquely tells of the people saying to let Jesus' blood be on their own hands. Some in history have used this verse as an instrument of anti-Semitism, a good example of people twisting the Bible's words in order to do evil. If we recognize that Matthew was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, however, this verse comes to give an implicit explanation to Matthew's audience of why God allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed in AD70.
  • Matthew 28 has some unique post-resurrection features that are not found in any other Gospel. These include the soldiers at the tomb and the Great Commission. 
  • Although there are some very intelligent outliers, the vast majority of experts on the text of Mark do not think that 16:9-20 were part of the original version of Mark. I personally think that these verses are a pastiche of the resurrection narratives of Matthew, Luke, and John. So someone in the second century added these verses to their copy of Mark because 16:8 didn't seem like an appropriate ending. I also have a hunch there was another original ending that was lost at a very, very early date. Some think the ending of Matthew gives us a good sense of what the original ending of Mark was like.
  • The incident of the soldiers at the tomb has one very interesting feature. It implies that even some 40+ years after the resurrection, no one had yet produced Jesus' body or claimed to have it. Those who opposed the resurrection accepted that there was an empty tomb.
  • The Great Commission is given in Galilee, not Jerusalem, so unless Luke has intentionally moved the location, this scene is not the same event as the ascension in Acts 1.
  • The Great Commission is more about discipleship than evangelism as we think of it today. It is not about getting people to pray a sinner's prayer, baptizing them, and then leaving them alone in their eternal security. It's not only about getting them in the body of Christ but, even more significantly, about teaching them all of Jesus' commands, IMO.
My take away:
  • Jesus is with us! The resurrected Immanuel of Matthew 1 is with us till the end of this age!

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