This Week’s Gospel Readings: Luke 22:1 – 24:53 and John 1:1-28
We finish Luke, seeing Yeshua exalted after the resurrection, and begin John, catching a transcendent view into the mystery of the Word, the Logos, the Memra.
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A Few Highlights from the Greek and the Commentary
Luke 22:29 — diatithemai humin kathōs dietheto moi ho pataer mou basileian, διατίθεμαι ὑμῖν καθὼς διέθετό μοι ὁ πατήρ μου βασιλείαν, “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom.” The promise here seems to be for the Twelve specifically. Yeshua assigns a role in the coming age to the Twelve, a place similar to the patriarchs and the fathers of the twelve tribes. Sitting at a formal meal with Yeshua was, culturally speaking, regarded as a kind of community moment of great importance. The Essenes (from whom we received the Dead Sea Scrolls) wrote often about sitting at the table with Messiah in the coming age. Luke features eight scenes of people dining with Yeshua. This Last Supper meals, and its words of instruction, are scene seven. Given the importance of seven, the Last Supper, is the messianic meal of greatest importance. Scene eight will be in the road to Emmaus, the first messianic meal of the new (post-resurrection) age. At the seventh meal scene, however, we find Messiah describing conditions in the kingdom age.
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Luke 24:4 — egeneto en tō aporeisthai autos peri toutou, ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ἀπορεῖσθαι αὐτὰς περὶ τούτου, “and while they were perplexed about this” (about finding the tomb empty). The earliest reaction to the empty tomb was not worship, but confusion and fear. The eyewitnesses who told and retold the story emphasized this. The Gospels, written down fifty years later, did not alter this aspect of the story. Though a well-developed belief in resurrection existed by the time of the Gospels, the initial doubts and panic of those who experienced these events in person was not erased from the record. Not one of them believed Yeshua when he said he would die, much less when he said he would rise. Sometimes we need to have our worldview altered by a life-altering event to be able to truly see.
John 1:1 — en archae aen ho Logos, kai ho Logos aen pros ton Theon, kai Theos aen ho Logos, Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Behind this claim is the creation narrative of Genesis 1, in which God created by the spoken word. The Fourth Gospel identifies this divine-creative word as Yeshua himself. Yeshua is the light, and though there is darkness in this world, Yeshua will conquer the darkness. We who live in the present darkness await his return and believe by faith that the darkness has not overcome the light. It is in knowing who Yeshua really is, not only risen and ascended but pre-existent and divine, that we keep the faith while the reality of life is generally far from the light. The Fourth Gospel finds a bridge between the ideas of Greeks and Romans on the one hand and the Jewish people on the other. This is a Gospel written to Jews and Gentiles. Jewish thinkers spoke about the Memra (Aramaic for “word”) and speculated about various semi-divine figures (chief angels, glorified saints, personified attributes of God) doing God’s bidding down on earth. But the Memra was more than semi-divine. Greek and Roman thinkers spoke about an underlying order of the universe, a Logos/word, sometimes personified as a shepherd. All these attempts to understand reality, the Prologue asserts, find their answer in Yeshua.
John 1:16-17 — hae charis kai hae alaetheia dia Iésou Christou egeneto, ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐγένετο, “grace and truth came about through Messiah Yeshua.” It is common for interpreters to see a contrast between the giving of the Torah through Moses and grace through Yeshua. A careful reading of John 1:16-17 shows us otherwise. In vs. 16, we see that “grace” has been given in the Torah as well as in the appearance of Messiah. It is not that grace was lacking before and was added only when Messiah came. This is, therefore, not be understood as a contrast between law and grace, but as one who added the grace of fuller revelation (the appearance and life of Messiah) to the grace of earlier revelation (the Torah). The fact that numerous commentators read this is gracelessness (Law) versus grace (Jesus), says more about their presuppositions than anything actually contained in the words of the Fourth Gospel.
John 1:23 — euthunate then hood kuriou, εὐθύνατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, “make straight the way of the Lord.” Sometimes a word can be turned around, having its opposite meaning. John alludes to Isaiah 40:3, “Make straight in the desert the highway of our God.” In Isaiah, this word emphasizes something God commands others to do for Israel. He speaks with a plural command to the people between Babylon and Israel, ordering them to level out the road, clear the path, and make it easier for the Israelites to return from exile. The Baptizer uses these words differently, as a challenge to Israel to prepare itself for God’s return. The reversal is striking. God is, effectively, in exile from Israel and the people must make the way for him to return by seeking him and preparing themselves to be the people of God again.
Outlines of the Week, Luke 22:1 – 24:53 and John 1:1-28
LUKE 22:1-23 Passover and the plot of the chief priests (1-2), Satanically possessed, Judas is paid to betray (3-6), preparation for Passover (7-13), the Passover Seder (14-23).
LUKE 22:24-38 Messiah teaches at the Passover table: who is the greatest (24-27), I grant you a kingdom (28-30), Simon and Satan’s sifting (31-32), Peter will deny the Master (33-34), purse and sword and numbered with transgressors (35-38).
LUKE 22:39-71 Gethsemane and arrest (39-53), the trial before the chief priests (54-71).
LUKE 23:1-31 First trial before Pilate (1-7), trial before Herod Antipas (8-12), Pilate tries to free Yeshua but is politically bound to execute him (13-25), Yeshua on the way to the cross (26-31).
LUKE 23:32-56 Yeshua and two thieves brought to be crucified (32-33); Yeshua’s forgiveness saying and casting lots (34); the reactions of the people, the Jewish leaders, and the soldiers (35-37), the inscription (38), one of the thieves is promised Paradise (39-43); darkness, the veil torn, and Yeshua gives up his spirit (44-46), The centurion’s reaction (47), the common peoples’ reaction (48), Yeshua’s friends at a distance (49), Joseph’s reaction (50-54), the reaction of the women who followed Yeshua (55-56).
LUKE 24:1-12 Perplexity and unbelief at the empty tomb.
LUKE 24:13-35 Yeshua appears incognito on the road to Emmaus (13-29), Yeshua makes himself known and disappears (30-35).
LUKE 24:36-53 Yeshua appears to the eleven and more (36-43), Yeshua extends their understanding and purpose (44-49), Yeshua’s blessing and ascension (50-51), the disciples’ joy and worship habit at the temple (52-53).
JOHN 1:1-5 The preexistent Word (1-2), the presence of the Word in the world (3-5).
JOHN 1:6-18 John the Baptizer is not the light but the prophet (6-9), the ironic reception of the Word by his own people and others (10-13), the Word born as a man (14), John the Baptizer’s testimony (15), what we receive from the Word (16), the Word surpasses the revelation at Sinai (17-18).
JOHN 1:19-28 John the Baptizer denies exalted roles — Messiah, Elijah, the Prophet (19-21), John claims a renewed role as the voice from Isaiah (22-23), John declares his work a preparation for one greater (24-28).
Commentary Links of the Week
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