Gospel Wednesday | Mark 13

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 12, where we saw Jesus silence the Sadducees and the Pharisees who thought they were clever enough to trip up the Son of God on the Law of God (granted, they were unbelievers so they rejected Him outright in their folly). We also looked at some of Jesus’ teaching in parables.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 13 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 13:1-2 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

And so the (second) Temple was indeed destroyed circa 70 A. D. (or C.E.). Modern Judaism (which is totally different from what it was during Christ’s first advent) still looks forward to a new temple being built. Sadly, there are groups of Christians who seem to think Christ’s return for the Church is somehow connected to the earthly kingdom of Israel and the earthly Temple. Such doctrinal positions do not fit with the Book of Hebrews or the Letter to the Romans… or even what follows in this chapter.

Mark 13:3-13 (ESV) | Signs of the Close of the Age

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

So much for that nonsensical (and nonBiblical) “seven mountains mandate”… the role of the Church isn’t to take control over the kingdoms of this world, but to Proclaim the Gospel. We also shouldn’t be blindly accepting everyone who anoints him/herself a “prophet” or “apostle” in some misguided belief that we should expect a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to usher in the return of Jesus. Jesus warned of the exact opposite… an increase in false prophets. Jesus warns us clearly to be on guard. This is a call to discernment, not  “open mindedness”. This same warning continues in the next portion.

Mark 13:14-23 (ESV) | The Abomination of Desolation

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

No secret rapture, no new wave of some super-di-duper-charged anointing. God isn’t waiting for a particular indication or even to trigger the return of Christ Jesus to Judge the quick and the dead. He knows the moment already. There is no “if this then He’ll return”. Only Believe in Him and His Word. He has told us all things beforehand. Trust in that Truth.

Mark 13:24-27 (ESV) | The Coming of the Son of Man

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

No one will sleep through this. No one will “miss” this event. It will be the end. All will witness it. All will be judged. No 24hr cameras in Jerusalem to “capture the event” needed.

Mark 13:28-31 (ESV) | The Lesson of the Fig Tree

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Identifying the signs of the fig tree doesn’t give the observer any control over the season. It’s not about anticipating the End or preparing for it with some foolish food box (Jim Bakker). While there were many who missed the first advent of the Messiah… no one will miss the last one. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but The Words of Christ will not. Ever. Hallelujah!

Mark 13:32-37 (ESV) | No One Knows That Day or Hour

“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

What does it mean to stay awake? Remain in the faith. Do not slumber in unbelief. I know there are different interpretations that my Calvinist brothers take here so, as usual, please consult your pastor for how this is to be interpreted in that framework.

Conclusion

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is Returning. There is nothing expected of us for bringing Him back, and even if there were we’d fail. It is Christ who created us, Christ who Saved Us, and Christ will bring us home in the end. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 12

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week was a rough week for me, personally, so I was unable to share anything until Friday. The week prior, we covered Mark 11, where we saw Jesus enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. We saw Him curse the fig tree, cleanse the Temple, and be challenged by the scribes and Pharisees regarding His authority.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 12 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 12:1-12 (ESV) | The Parable of the Tenants

And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”

And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

The focus of this parable is its conclusion, this parable was a rebuke against the Pharisees, the chief priests and elders of Jerusalem. They were the tenants in the story who rejected and beat the servants sent to them (the Prophets) and killed the Master’s Son (Jesus Christ). We see later in Peter’s Epistle a reflection back to this teaching point using this wording regarding the stone that the builders rejected.

1 Peter 2:4-10 (ESV) As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Getting back to the Parable of the Tenants, the meticulously laid out vineyard complete with fence, winepress, and tower represents Israel. The tenants are those placed as stewards over Israel, the chief priests and elders. Notice at the conclusion of the parable, rather than repent, the enemies of Christ hardened their hearts.What follows is an attempt to trip Him up theologically. If they can get Him to commit blasphemy or fail the test of a false prophet (but teaching false doctrine), they can claim their victory over Him.

Mark 12:13-17 (ESV) | Paying Taxes to Caesar

And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Here, they were so sure they had Jesus in an inescapable trap between either speaking against the Temple or against Caesar, they were marveled by His answer. Truth has that effect. Jesus IS the Word of God made flesh, after all… He knows the Father and the Father knows Him. There is no tripping Him up.

Mark 12:18-27 (ESV) | The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the manmust take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring.And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died.In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Pardon the anachronism, but this is a total #micdrop moment. Jesus began and ended with a flat-out “you’re wrong”. Sit down, Sadducees, you’re done here.

Mark 12:28-34 (ESV) | The Great Commandment

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

This one is very curious to me. It seems as though this question started as a “gotcha” question anticipating some sort of answer that might over-emphasize one commandment against the others… but Jesus instead summarizes the whole Law and includes the second table in His answer. What is interesting is the apparent realization by the scribe at how completely Jesus answered the trick question… his response to Jesus demonstrated this understanding and garnered a comment of approval from Jesus. Here, Mark lets us know that from this time forward, no one dared ask Jesus any more questions. I think, given the context, Mark is talking about these sort of trap-questions, not legitimate questions.

Mark 12:35-37 (ESV) | Whose Son Is the Christ?

And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

Mark 12:38-40 (ESV) | Beware of the Scribes

And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

Mark 12:41-44 (ESV) | The Widow’s Offering

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Here, we see Jesus warning against the sin of pride and sinful pietism. The religious acts of the scribes were not done in service of their neighbors, but to make much of themselves. They enjoyed being regarded as the honorable ones, the pious ones. When Jesus comments on the widow’s offering, He isn’t so much rebuking the wealthy for contributing out of their abundance; rather, He is drawing attention to the offering of the widow. Unlike the scribes, He isn’t accusing the wealthy of sin; rather, He is pointing out that greater attention is given to the one who gave out of her poverty. This offering is clearly a gift of faith, for reason or abundance cannot explain this offering. It is her faith in the provision of God that is being credited to her as righteousness.

Brothers and sisters, let us resist the temptation of turning this into some sort of formula for manipulating the favor of God through “sacrificial giving”. Let’s look to Paul’s instruction in 2 Corinthians 9.

2 Corinthians 9:6-14 (ESV) | The Cheerful Giver
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

When you serve your neighbor, do so bountifully in faith and love, as an extension of the surpassing Grace of God upon you.

Conclusion

Consider the empty tomb this week, consider the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, consider your baptism into eternal life in Christ Jesus. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | “3 Days & 3 Nights”?

As frustrating as social media can become regarding matters of …well anything, there is no doubt near limitless opportunity to challenge our perceptions and doctrinal positions. If we are willing to do the work of a Berean, even holding our closest kept doctrines up to the light of Scripture for examination, and ask questions of our pastors and teachers, there is room for growth, even from discussions originating in social media.

During Holy Week, we shared a post that examined the timeline of Holy Week and the Passion of Christ. The timeline we shared was a Thursday evening Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, His arrest, His trial through the night and into Friday morning, Crucifixion on Friday afternoon, burial before sundown Friday, Resurrection before daybreak on Sunday morning.

The primary focus of today’s CTT post is on the wording we find in Matthew 12:40. Let’s look at the verse in it’s immediate context and then we’ll explain the thought being conveyed in this passage, its wording, and how it reconciles with the rest of Matthew and the other Gospel Accounts of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) | The Sign of Jonah

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher,we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,something greater than Solomon is here.

So, the common objection we’ll hear from folks insisting on a modern, literalistic interpretation of this passage is something to the effect of, “hey, since Jesus listed days and nights here, He’s explicitly laying out 3×24 hour periods where He lay in the tomb”. We’re going to address this objection by looking at the following questions:

  1. How many times is this phrasing used to describe the burial of Jesus as opposed to the more general phrasing of “3 days” or “on the third day”?
  2. How did Matthew account for the timeline of the Passion of Christ? How about Luke, the physician?
  3. If the extra wording isn’t for specifying timing of the time in the tomb, why the extra wording? Where is the significance in this phrase to be found?

This will probably end up being a long post, but I want to cover these three points to the best of my ability. Please double-check my work (open Bible, not an open mind) and don’t hesitate to talk these issues over with your pastor. Please understand that due to my lack of training in Koine Greek, I’ll be making my arguments based on the ESV translation, trusting the scholarship of others to provide solid translations.

1. How is Jesus’ time in the tomb referenced?

There are a number of ways we could go about researching this question. Let’s begin with how many times Matthew refers to Jesus’ time in the tomb. Matthew references it 7 times. We’ve already seen the first reference in Matt 12:40. Let’s look at the other references Matthew makes:

Matt 16:21;17:23;20:19;26:61;27:40;27:63-64; (ESV)

Matthew 16:21(ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Matthew 17:23 (ESV) 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

Matthew 20:19 (ESV) 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Matthew 26:61 (ESV) 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”

Matthew 27:40 (ESV) 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

Matthew 27:63-64 (ESV) 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Now here we have Matthew talking about Jesus being raised “on the third day”, “in three days”, “after three days”, and we have a reference to being in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. Matthew didn’t only record what Jesus said of Himself, He also recorded what the people remembered, the unbelievers and the enemies of Jesus, this is how they remembered it and we see how they hurled these words back at Jesus as an insult to Him. When we start looking to the other Gospel writers, we’ll see another 10 mentions of Christ’s death and resurrection, with a mixture of these same reference points of “in three days”, “on the third day”, and “after three days”. So what are we seeing here? Is this a discrepancy in the amount of time Jesus spent in the tomb? No. This reflects the fluid nature of how time is referenced in the culture of the day. Clearly Matthew, who was writing to the Jews, had no issue whatsoever using the various references to time without a problem. A point that is clearly made in the Matt 27:63-64, where if we applied our modern-day, down-to-the-minute specificity of time keeping we’d say, “hey, bozos, if you’re trying to prevent an event that happens after 3 days, why would you only place guards until the start of the third day?”

So, we’ve demonstrated how the Gospel accounts treat all presented phrasing as equally descriptive of the time Jesus spent in the tomb. Those who seek to delve into various theories and algorithms to try to reconcile all of these times to fit our modernist accounting of time do so NOT to reconcile the scriptures with each other, but simply to modernize the time keeping, and undermine the Scriptures in the process. So how should we treat the Jewish accounting of days? We should accept that the Scriptures are sound. The death and burial of Jesus was a VERY public event, during the feast of unleavened bread. Jerusalem was packed with people. His death and resurrection was easily falsifiable yet no one proved the Apostles false. Secondly, we do have extra-biblical resources for learning how the Jews accounted for days, hours, months, and years. In our modern culture, we have standardized time such the length of an hour or a day remains fixed, regardless of the sunrise/sunset. In Jewish culture, the standard was sunrise and sunset as observed by certain people. The length of a day and that of an hour varied throughout the year (source). The idea of converting references to “3 days” to exactly 72 hours is a modern concept that we need to resist applying to Scripture. Even when we see “3 days and 3 nights”, but we’ll talk more about that in point 3. Any part of a day was called that day. In fact, the only place in the whole Bible that refers to “half days” is in Revelation 11:1-14, where John is sharing the vision of the Two Witnesses who die and are raised up in 3 and a half days.

2. Matthew’s Timeline of the Passion of Christ, and Luke’s account of how Jesus referenced on the road to Emmaus

Okay, so we already pointed out how Matthew’s account uses various references to the 3 days of Christ’s death and resurrection. What I’d like to do now is work through Matthew’s account of the timing of the death and resurrection of Jesus to really drive home the point that Matthew wasn’t confused or internally inconsistent. Now, another thing worth noting is that the 7 days of the week having names didn’t fully take until about the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The Jews only had one day of the week that was named, and that was the Sabbath. The days were numbered 1 thru 7, with the seventh day being the Sabbath.  If you’d like to read through the Matthew account and build the timeline yourself, simply open your Bible to Matthew 26 through 28. For our purposes here, I want to highlight specific passages working from the resurrection backward.

Resurrection Day

Matthew 28:1-2 (ESV) Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Okay, so the empty tomb was discovered by the Marys toward the dawn of the first day of the week, the day following the Sabbath. Matthew gives us a very precise record of which part of which day this event took place. The Sabbath had ended roughly at sundown on what we’d call ‘Saturday night’, and the empty was discovered early in the morning on what we call Sunday. Incidentally, this is why the Church meets on Sunday rather than keeping Saturdays… because we now are part of the 8th day, the Lord’s Day after His Sabbath rest from all of His previous work, the “it is finished” on the cross. Since the resurrection takes place on the first day of the week, it counts as a full day, the third day. We already see that the Sabbath was the second day, but let’s see what Matthew records for that day.

The Sabbath of our Lord and Savior

Matthew 27:57-66 (ESV) When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Folks like to mess around with this day and try to insert days before and after this day to stretch out timelines. I don’t think there’s any legitimacy to this, particularly within Matthew’s account. We see Jesus buried, the next day the guard is put in place until the third day, and the next day (after the Sabbath) the tomb is empty. Three days accounted for by Jewish reckoning with the Sabbath in the center. Where folks play with dates is by first insisting that Preparation Day has to be a certain date, and then they start to squeeze in narratives between verses to justify their fixed dates.

Now what we have here is Jesus being crucified on the day of preparation, before the Sabbath, before the First day of the week. Jesus had a truly rough day which didn’t start on the day of preparation, but on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the day the Passover Lambs were slaughtered. So let’s go there in Matthew’s account.

Jesus Keeps Passover with the Disciples

Matthew 26:17-19 (ESV) Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

Okay, so Matthew (writing to a Jewish audience) didn’t explain the significance of the first day of Unleavened Bread. I get this detail from Mark’s account Mark 14:12 (ESV) And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” That fixes the Passover to that evening after they slaughtered the Passover Lamb, where the LORD then institutes the Lord’s Supper, Judas runs off to betray Jesus… and sometime later returns and Jesus is arrested and is immediately taken to trial throughout the night (where Peter betrays Him 3 times before the rooster crows). Once day breaks, Jesus stands before the Roman courts as the Jews push for Rome to crucify Jesus. This is a very tight timeline, and it is of the Passover leading into 3 days: (Passover Thursday), Friday, Saturday (Sabbath), Sunday.

Regarding the 3 days, I’d like to take a moment to turn to Luke’s Account of the Resurrection and the Emmaus walk found in Luke 24. Please read the full chapter, but we’ll pull some selected texts to focus on the timing of events.

Luke 24:1-3 (ESV) But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:9-12 (ESV) and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:13-27 (ESV) That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:30-31 (ESV) When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

Luke 24:36-49 (ESV) As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The first day of the week, was the third day, and the Christ had risen on that third day as it was Written.

3. Why the extra wording?

Okay, so why the extra wording in Matthew 12:40? Let’s reread the passage in its context.

Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher,we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,something greater than Solomon is here.

Notice I chose to highlight different portions of this passage this time around? That’s because this is the purpose of the extra wording “three days and three nights”. Matthew isn’t sharing extra insight on the timing of Christ’s resurrection, he’s quoting Jesus’ words of rebuke against the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew is connecting for us that Jonah foreshadowed Christ. The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and these scribes and Pharisees murdered Him. This isn’t the only time Matthew records this point. It happens again in chapter 16, but this time Matthew doesn’t draw out the teaching.

Matthew 16:1-4 (ESV) | The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

The point of the extra wording was for the hearers in that day and for us who read it now to reflect back on the Old Testament Account of Jonah. No doubt this was part of the teaching Jesus did on the road to Emmaus as He taught them from the Scriptures to see how everything pointed to Christ’s death and resurrection. Matthew is the only Gospel writer to use this expanded connection to Jonah with the phrasing of the three days and three nights. We can replicate the timelines in Mark and Luke. John takes a different approach in his account, and we might take some time to work through his account in another CTT post down the road.

Conclusion

Scripture interprets scripture. We let the clear passages teach us how to understand the unclear passages, and we let the text do the teaching. The Scriptures don’t need our help, we just need to read them and trust that God the Holy Spirit will grow our faith through the hearing (reading) of God’s Word. We need to be careful with how we try to force verses to reconcile with our modern-day paradigms, for in so doing we run the risk of completely disregarding the harmony of the scriptures in favor of our own machinations.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | The Passion of Christ

imagesI hadn’t planned to post anything for Good Friday, but Worldview Everlasting (WEtv) posted 2 videos this week that were so full of awesome teaching that I simply had to share it. These are short videos and I will not be adding much text to this post. My encouragement to you dear brothers and sisters in Christ is to spend time in God’s Word and attend whatever services your local church holds this weekend (vespers, sunrise service, etc.) to be fed the Word of God. This holiday isn’t about the abominable bunny, it is about the beautiful exchange of your sinfulness for Christ’s righteousness by His Finished work on the cross.

Update: After this post was posted, WEtv put out another amazing video that simply had to be added to today’s post.

Timeline Events of Holy Week – Pr Bryan Wolfmueller

 

One Lamb for All – Pr Matt Richard

 

The Full Suffering of Christ

Psalm 22 (ESV) | Why Have You Forsaken Me?
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn.
A Psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

Conclusion

Today we remember the most terrible and beautiful day recorded in history. This is the very center of the Scriptures, the Written Word of God. In closing, I’d like to remind our readers of the forgiveness of God and of the call to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, baptizing and teaching all that Christ had taught… what we now have in Scripture.

John 21:15-19 (ESV) | Jesus and Peter
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Mark 11

GWWelcome back as we continue working through the Gospel According to Mark. Last week we covered Mark 10, where we saw Jesus clearly teach regarding marriage and divorce by reaching back all the way to Genesis 2. We are again reminded that Jesus came to die for our sin and then be raised up for our salvation.

Today, we’ll resume reading, beginning in Chapter 11 of the Gospel According to Mark.

Mark 11:1-11 (ESV) | The Triumphal Entry

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!” And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

In the future I’d like to get these devotional posts better lined up with the church year, but this one landed fairly closely. If you attend a liturgical church that moves through a lectionary, you probably read through this account or one of its parallels last week or the week prior. While this may seem an oddly specific request from Jesus, Matthew and John give us the reference to the following Prophecy:

Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) | The Coming King of Zion
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

It is so cool to see how completely Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and how once you see they are fulfilled in Him it becomes clear that these couldn’t possibly be about anyone else. Praise the LORD!

Mark 11:12-14 (ESV) | Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

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.

When we worked through the parallel texts in Matthew, we spent a great deal of time pointing out how this encounter with the fig tree was prophetic, and it pointed to the religious leaders, the chief priests of Israel. They had a form of godliness (the leaves) but were not bearing fruit (faith in Christ Jesus). They were the fig tree that bore no fruit. This text is often used by unbelievers who seek to deny the Deity of Christ (Muslim and Atheist apologists and heretics who deny the Trinity) by accusing Jesus of being mistaken and not knowing it wasn’t the season for figs. Jesus knew, and this wasn’t about wanting figs nor was it about a prophet having a tantrum. Mark isn’t writing about the false teaching of the Pharisees here, he’s writing about the Authority of Jesus and his inclusion of the encounter with the fig tree is being used to build up to that moment.

Mark 11 (ESV) | Jesus Cleanses the Temple

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.” 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.

Here, the fruitless tree seeks a way to destroy Jesus, for they feared Him.

Mark 11:15-19 (ESV) | The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Notice here that the object of faith isn’t faith itself, it is God. Don’t allow others to mix this teaching with the mustard seed reference where the end result is a focus on whether or not you have “enough faith” as if it were gasoline in a fuel tank. Jesus isn’t telling them they will somehow grow into a power of their own, He tells them to have faith in God. What is the fruit that was lacking in the fig tree? Faith. What are we asking for in prayer? Forgiveness by the Blood of Jesus. Don’t look inwardly for a sense of forgiveness or some emotional experience confirming what the Scriptures say… when you hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaim you forgiven and set free, trust in His Word. And when you speak these words of forgiveness to your neighbor, trust in God’s Forgiveness for your neighbor as you do in your own forgiveness. Jesus is not merely teaching about signs and wonders to impress the kingdoms of this world, He’s preaching the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mark 11:20-33 (ESV) | The Authority of Jesus Challenged

And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

In refusing to confess Him as the Christ, they suppressed the truth in their own unrighteousness (Romans 1). Jesus’ authority came from Heaven, for He is God the Son. He came to set the captives free, not to rule over them in this temporal life, for His Kingdom is not of this world.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) | Christ’s Example of Humility
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus didn’t need to verbally proclaim His Authority at this time, for God had already testified of Him as did the signs and wonders and teaching of Jesus. Those who had an ear to hear did hear, and eyes to see did see. His sheep heard His voice and believed. We are still doing so today, for as long as the LORD tarries.

Conclusion

Consider the cross this week, consider your sin, consider the humble sacrifice Jesus, God the son, made on our behalf, that we might be called Children of the Most High God. Until next week, spend time in the Written Word of God and do not forsake the gathering of the saints, hearing of the Preached Word… both Law and Gospel.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge