Who Am I? Part 7

In another essay I presented his Jewish and Roman trials as a kind of ultimate tempting of the flesh of Adam and an ultimate proving of the Holy Spirit which descendedin bodily form like a dove[1] upon Jesus the Christ or Messiah.  I characterized those trials as a time “when sinners, Jerusalem, the whole world, perhaps even the created cosmos were in extreme danger of falling into the hands of an angry God.”  I want to continue with his crucifixion.

Nail me to a cross and I’m stuck there but Jesus said (John 10:17, 18 NET):

This is why the Father loves me – because I lay down my life, so that I may take it back again.  No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down of my own free will.[2]  I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again.  This commandment I received from my Father.

It says to me that at any moment throughout his ordeal of ultimate humiliation Jesus, yehôvâh in the flesh of Adam,[3] could have decided that enough was enough, sat down at the right hand of his Father in heaven and been none the worse for wear—personally.

As they led him away, Luke recorded in his Gospel narrative, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country.  They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.[4]  Matthew and Mark recorded the same incident.  I might have assumed that He was too holy to carry his own cross except that John recalled Jesus carrying his own cross (John 19:16, 17 NET).  Apparently the One who said, If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,[5] was too weak to carry his all the way to his crucifixion.

Two other (ἕτεροι, a form of ἕτερος) criminals (κακοῦργοι, a form of κακοῦργος) were also led away to be executed with him.[6]  Isaiah had prophesied, he was numbered with the transgressors,[7] though he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.[8]  But with the words ἕτεροι κακοῦργοι δύο Luke captured (See: ἕτεροι; Luke 11:15, 16) the social reality of Jesus as one of three criminals condemned to death by the duly authorized governor of Judea.  His punishment was neither cruel nor unusual under the prevailing standards of their socially constructed reality.

A great number of the people followed him (Luke 23:27-31 NET):

among them women who were mourning and wailing for him.  But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For this is certain: The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  For if such things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”) and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink.  But after tasting it, he would not drink it.[9]  There they crucified him along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.[10]  But Jesus said, “Father, forgive (ἄφες, a form of ἀφίημι) them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”[11]

Jesus, naked[12] on the cross, looked down as the soldiers who crucified Him took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)  So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.”  This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”  So the soldiers did these things.[13]  David (1 Samuel 16:1 – 1 Kings 2:11) had prophesied, they look and stare upon me.  They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.[14]

Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.[15]  It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.[16]  That would be the second morning since the night of his arrest with little or no sleep for Jesus.  The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others.  Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”[17]

Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.”[18]  Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic (Ἑβραϊστί; literally, in Hebrew; NET note 67), Latin, and Greek.  Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”[19]

Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha!  You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!”[20]  He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!”  The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.[21]  One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”[22]

This is the point in the story where I wished Jesus would come down from the cross as more than twelve legions of angels came screaming out of the sky to the tune of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries to kill everyone who mocked Him.  Actually it is the ideal of the Sicarii—walking up to an “enemy” (anyone who disagrees with my “truth”) plunging a long knife into him several times and melting away again into the crowd—that appeals to the sin in my flesh more than the straight-up warfare of the Zealots.  Cowardice prevented me from ever actualizing the murderous intentions of my heart.  And until the moment that sentence formed in my mind I hadn’t thanked God for that fear.  All this may help explain why years of imitating the Pharisees felt like a step toward godliness to me.

But the other [criminal] rebuked him [the former criminal], saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”[23] as a door of hope opened (Hosea 2:14-17 Tanakh).

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.  And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה), that thou shalt call me Ishi (ʼı̂ysh, אישי); and shalt call me no more Baali (baʽălı̂y, בעלי).  For I will take away the names of Baalim (baʽal, הבעלים) out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.

As confessions go, And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did is nothing compared to Achan’s confession (Joshua 7:19-25 Tanakh)

And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it.

And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD.

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor.

And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day.  And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

I wonder now whether Achan and his sons and his daughters, after suffering the punishment of criminals, face an implacable Judge or a merciful Savior, not because of the merits of Achan’s confession but because of the merits of that Savior: But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.[24]

Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!”  He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!”  From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.[25]

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land.  At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”[26] that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[27]  After six hours on the cross Jesus lamented his loneliness even as He affirmed his confidence in the Scripture, written for his comfort (Psalm 22:6-18) for the very moment He prayed it (Psalm 22:1, 23, 24 Tanakh):

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.  For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.  But the rest said, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.”[28]  After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture [Psalm 22:15]), “I am thirsty!”  A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth.  When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!”[29]  David had already spoken for Jesus’ failing breath (Psalm 22:25-31 Tanakh):

My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.  The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.  All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.   For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations.  All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.  A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

The temple curtain was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”  And after he said this he breathed his last.[30]  The earth shook and the rocks were split apart.  And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.  (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)[31]

Now when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”[32]  And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.[33] 

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? Jesus asked.  The words that I say to you, I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father residing in me performs his miraculous deeds.[34]  And in the letter to the Hebrews we are encouraged: Think of him who endured such opposition against himself by sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up.[35]  I tell you the solemn truth, Jesus promised, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father.[36]  For, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[37]

The Gospel harmony I made to write this essay follows.

The Crucifixion

Matthew Mark Luke

John

So they took Jesus, and carrying his own cross…

 John 19:16b, 17a

As they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced to carry his cross.

Matthew 27:32

The soldiers forced a passerby to carry his cross, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country…

Mark 15:21a

As they led him away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country.  They placed the cross on his back and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26

(he was the father of Alexander and Rufus).

Mark 15:21b

A great number of the people followed him, among them women who were mourning and wailing for him.  But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For this is certain: The days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore children, and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’  For if such things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31

Two other criminals were also led away to be executed with him.

Luke 23:32

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”)…

Matthew 27:33

They brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which is translated, “Place of the Skull”).

Mark 15:22

So when they came to the place that is called “The Skull” …

Luke 23:33a

…he went out to the place called “The Place of the Skull” (called in Aramaic Golgotha).

John 19:17b

…and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink.  But after tasting it, he would not drink it.

Matthew 27:34

They offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Mark 15:23

When they had crucified him…

Matthew 27:35a

Then they crucified him…

Mark 15:24a

…they crucified him there…

Luke 23:33b

There they crucified him…

John 19:18a

…along with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.

Luke 23:33c

…along with two others, one on each side, with Jesus in the middle.

John 19:18b

[But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”]

Luke 23:34a

…they divided his clothes by throwing dice.

Matthew 27:35b

…and divided his clothes, throwing dice for them, to decide what each would take.

Mark 15:24b

Then they threw dice to divide his clothes.

Luke 23:34b

Then they sat down and kept guard over him there.

Matthew 27:36

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.

Mark 15:25

The people also stood there watching, but the rulers ridiculed him, saying, “He saved others.  Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, his chosen one!”  The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

Luke 23:35-37

Above his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”

Matthew 27:37

The inscription of the charge against him read, “The king of the Jews.”

Mark 15:26

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the king of the Jews.”

Luke 23:38

Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.”

John 19:19

Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’”  Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

John 19:20-22

Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)  So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”  So the soldiers did these things.

John 19:23, 24

Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads  and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself!  If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law and elders – were mocking him: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  He is the king of Israel!  If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him!

Matthew 27:38-42

And they crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.  Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law – were mocking him among themselves: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross now, that we may see and believe!”

Mark 15:27-32a

He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!”

Matthew 27:43

The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Matthew 27:44

Those who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Mark 15:32b

One of the criminals who was hanging there railed at him, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”  But the other rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we rightly so, for we are getting what we deserve for what we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:39-43

Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, look, here is your son!”  He then said to his disciple, “Look, here is your mother!”  From that very time the disciple took her into his own home.

John 19:25-27

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land.

Matthew 27:45

Now when it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

Mark 15:33

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, because the sun’s light failed.

Luke 23:44, 45a

At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.”  Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink.  But the rest said, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.”

Matthew 27:46-49

Around three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  When some of the bystanders heard it they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah!”  Then someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Leave him alone!  Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down!”

Mark 15:34-36

After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty!”  A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth.  When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!”

John 19:28-30a

Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit.  Just then the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Matthew 27:50, 51a

But Jesus cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last.  And the temple curtain was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Mark 15:37, 38

The temple curtain was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”  And after he said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:45, 46

 

 

Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30b

The earth shook and the rocks were split apart.  And tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had died were raised.  (They came out of the tombs after his resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.)

Matthew 27:51b-53

Now when the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and what took place, they were extremely terrified and said, “Truly this one was God’s Son!”

Matthew 27:54

Now when the centurion, who stood in front of him, saw how he died, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

Mark 15:39

Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

Luke 23:47

And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.

Luke 23:48

Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and given him support were also there, watching from a distance.

Matthew 27:55

There were also women, watching from a distance.

Mark 15:40a

And all those who knew Jesus stood at a distance, and the women who had followed him from Galilee saw these things.

Luke 23:49

Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Matthew 27:56

Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  When he was in Galilee, they had followed him and given him support.  Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were there too.

Mark 15:40b, 41

 

[1] Luke 3:22a (NET)

[2] The words free will were added by the translators to the Greek word ἐμαυτοῦ translated my own.

[3] Romans, Part 55; My Reasons and My Reason, Part 5; Romans, Part 38; Fear – Genesis, Part 6; Who Am I? Part 2

[4] Luke 23:26 (NET)

[5] Matthew 16:24 (NET)

[6] Luke 23:32 (NET)

[7] Isaiah 53:12b (Tanakh)

[8] Isaiah 53:9b (Tanakh)

[9] Matthew 27:33, 34 (NET)  David Mathis offers the following explanation in his blog post “The Wine Jesus Drank” on desiringGod.

[10] John 19:18 (NET)

[11] Luke 23:34a (NET)

[12] Stephen Ray, “Was Jesus Crucified Naked?,” Defender’s of the Catholic Faith

[13] John 19:23, 24 (NET)

[14] Psalm 22:17b, 18 (Tanakh)

[15] Matthew 27:36 (NET)

[16] Mark 15:25 (NET)

[17] Luke 23:35-37 (NET)

[18] Though it differs slightly from the synoptic Gospels I’m going with John’s account because he, the disciple whom [Jesus] loved, was actually there (John 19:25-27) near enough to read it.

[19] John 19:19-22 (NET)

[20] Mark 15:29-32a (NET)

[21] Matthew 27:43, 44 (NET)

[22] Luke 23:39 (NET)

[23] Luke 23:40-43 (NET)

[24] 1 John 1:9 (NET)

[25] John 19:25-27 (NET)

[26] I had thought and written that this was Aramaic.  E. A. Knapp in his article “Did the Messiah Speak Aramaic or Hebrew? (part 2)” on Torah Class online disputes that.

[27] Matthew 27:45, 46 (NET)

[28] Matthew 27:47-49 (NET)

[29] John 19:28-30a (NET)

[30] Luke 23:45b, 46 (NET)

[31] Matthew 27:51b-53 (NET)

[32] Mark 15:39 (NET)

[33] Luke 23:48 (NET)

[34] John 14:10 (NET)

[35] Hebrews 12:3 (NET)

[36] John 14:12 (NET)

[37] Galatians 5:22, 23a (NET)

Romans, Part 75

Live in harmony (φρονοῦντες, a form of φρονέω) with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.  Do not be conceited.[1]  I can’t find live or harmony in the Greek here, τὸ αὐτὸ εἰς ἀλλήλους φρονοῦντες.  The phrase translated do not be haughty is μὴ τὰ ὑψηλὰ φρονοῦντες (literally, “no lofty thought” or “no high-mindedness”).  I would translate the first sentence, “Think of one another” or “Consider one another, not generalities, but specifics,” the down and dirty, nitty-gritty of another’s life and outlook.  For by the grace given to me, Paul already wrote, I say to every one of you not to think more highly (ὑπερφρονεῖν, a form of ὑπερφρονεώ) of yourself than you ought to think (φρονεῖν, another form of φρονέω) but to think (φρονεῖν, another form of φρονέω) with sober discernment (σωφρονεῖν, a form of σωφρονέω), as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.[2]

Paul prayed, and I assume believed, that God would give his readers this thinking (φρονεῖν, another form of φρονέω) of one another, translated unity below:  For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance (ὑπομονῆς, a form of ὑπομονή) and through encouragement (παρακλήσεως, a form of παράκλησις) of the scriptures we may have hope.  Now may the God of endurance (ὑπομονῆς, a form of ὑπομονή) and comfort (παρακλήσεως, a form of παράκλησις) give you unity with one another (τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν ἀλλήλοις) in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.[3]

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord!  This must not happen to you!”  But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind (φρονεῖς, another form of φρονέω) on God’s interests, but on man’s.”[4]  Mark’s Gospel informs that Jesus spoke this way to Peter after turning and looking at his disciples.[5]

Then Jesus said to his disciples, Matthew’s Gospel continued, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”[6] This his disciples were already doing in the most literal way imaginable, but in their thinking they walked according to the flesh.  The Holy Spirit had not yet been given.  As Paul wrote the Romans, those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped (φρονοῦσιν, another form of φρονέω) by the things of the flesh[7]

The Holy Spirit transforms our thinking: but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit,[8] Paul continued.  Keep thinking (φρονεῖτε, another form of φρονέω) about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.[9]  I thank my God every time I remember you, Paul wrote believers in Philippi.  I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.  For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.  For it is right for me to think (φρονεῖν, another form of φρονέω) this about all of you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel all of you became partners in God’s grace together with me.[10]

Paul expounded on this Holy Spirit thinking in his letter to the Philippians (2:1-13; 3:18-21 NET):

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind (φρονῆτε, another form of φρονέω), by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose (φρονοῦντες, a form of φρονέω).  Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.  Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.  You should have the same attitude (φρονεῖτε, another form of φρονέω) toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature.  He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!  As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord [e.g., yehôvâh] to the glory of God the Father.   So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed (ὑπηκούσατε, a form of ὑπακούω), not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence,  for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of his good pleasure – is God.

For many live, about whom I have often told you, and now, with tears, I tell you that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, they exult in their shame, and they think (φρονοῦντες, a form of φρονέω) about earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven – and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.

Paul stressed that this thinking is not something we accomplish in the flesh.  He trusted God to accomplish it through his Spirit (Philippians 3:4b-15 NET):

If someone thinks (δοκεῖ, a form of δοκέω) he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials (σαρκί, a form of σάρξ), I have more: I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews.  I lived according to the law as a Pharisee.  In my zeal for God I persecuted the church.  According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless.  But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ.  More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness.  My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already attained this – that is, I have not already been perfected – but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this.  Instead I am single-minded [ἓν δέ; “but one” or “one moreover”]: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind (σκοπὸν, a form of σκοπός), I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view (φρονῶμεν, another form of φρονέω).  If you think (φρονεῖτε, another form of φρονέω) otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways.

In Galatians Paul was concerned specifically about Gentile believers accepting circumcision as necessary or beneficial, but I think we can hear his words in this context as well, if we were to turn this thinking from the Holy Spirit into a human program to “live in harmony” (Galatians 5:4-10a NET):

You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace!  For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love.  You were running well; who prevented you from obeying (πείθεσθαι, a form of πείθω) the truth?  This persuasion (πεισμονὴ) does not come from the one who calls you!  A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise!  I am confident (πέποιθα, another form of πείθω) in the Lord that you will accept (φρονήσετε, another form of φρονέω) no other view.[11]

Thinking of one another implies a mutual concern: I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern (φρονεῖν, another form of φρονέω) for me. (Now I know you were concerned [ἐφρονεῖτε, another form of φρονέω] before but had no opportunity to do anything.)[12]  And it implies some tolerance for one another’s quirks: One person regards (κρίνει, a form of κρίνω) one day holier than other days, and another regards (κρίνει, a form of κρίνω) them all alike.  Each must be fully convinced (πληροφορείσθω, a form of πληροφορέω) in his own mind.  The one who observes (φρονῶν, another form of φρονέω) the day does (φρονεῖ, another form of φρονέω) it for the Lord.[13]

While I don’t doubt that this thinking from the Holy Spirit will result in something like harmony or unity or agreement eventually, I’m not entirely comfortable when forms of φρονέω are translated agree: I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree (φρονεῖν, another form of φρονέω) in the Lord;[14] and, Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice, set things right, be encouraged, agree (φρονεῖτε, another form of φρονέω) with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.[15]  I don’t believe that the Holy Spirit meant some form of group-think or committee work.

The Jerusalem council agreed unanimously to send a letter to the Gentiles which read: For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden (βάρος) on you than these necessary rules.[16]  James’ abbreviated version of the law followed.  It took individual believers not some corporate entity to set this error aright: For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments do not weigh (βαρεῖαι, a form of βαρύς) us down, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world.[17]

I would like to think that μὴ γίνεσθε φρόνιμοι παρ᾿ ἑαυτοῖς (literally, “not become wise from himself, herself or themselves”) meant to become wise through the Holy Spirit.  But Paul used φρόνιμοι (a form of φρόνιμος) facetiously three other times (Romans 11:25, 1 Corinthians 4:10 and 2 Corinthians 11:19 NET).  Do not be conceited may be an adequate translation.  Only Jesus used φρόνιμοι seriously (Mathew 10:16-20 NET):

I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise (φρόνιμοι , a form of φρόνιμος) as serpents and innocent as doves.  Beware of people, because they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues.  And you will be brought before governors and kings because of me, as a witness to them and the Gentiles.  Whenever they hand you over for trial, do not worry about how to speak or what to say, for what you should say will be given to you at that time.  For it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Romans, Part 76

Back to Romans, Part 80

Back to Romans, Part 83

[1] Romans 12:16 (NET)

[2] Romans 12:3 (NET)

[3] Romans 15:4-6 (NET)

[4] Matthew 16:21-23 (NET)

[5] Mark 8:33 (NET)

[6] Matthew 16:24 (NET)

[7] Romans 8:5a (NET)

[8] Romans 8:5b (NET)

[9] Colossians 3:2, 3 (NET)

[10] Philippians 1:3-7 (NET)

[11] NET note 11: “Grk ‘that you will think nothing otherwise.’”

[12] Philippians 4:10 (NET)

[13] Romans 14:5, 6a (NET)

[14] Philippians 4:2 (NET)

[15] 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NET)

[16] Acts 15:28 (NET)

[17] 1 John 5:3, 4 (NET)

Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 5

I want to continue considering the eternal gospel the angel flying directly overhead “evangelized” (εὐαγγελίσαι, a form of εὐαγγελίζω)[1] in its context.  It is one of three messages by three different angels: one “evangelized,” another declared (λέγων, a form of λέγω),[2] and another declared (λέγων, a form of λέγω) in a loud voice.

Three Angels

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel (εὐαγγέλιον)[3] to proclaim (εὐαγγελίσαι, a form of εὐαγγελίζω) to those who live on the earth –  to every nation, tribe, language, and people.  He declared in a loud voice:

Revelation 14:6, 7a (NET)

A second angel followed the first, declaring (λέγων, a form of λέγω):

Revelation 14:8a (NET)

A third angel followed the first two, declaring (λέγων, a form of λέγω) in a loud voice:

Revelation 14:9a (NET)

“Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment (ἡ ὥρα τῆς κρίσεως αὐτοῦ) has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”

Revelation 14:7b (NET)

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city!  She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία)[4] passion.”

Revelation 14:8b (NET)

“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb.  And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.”

Revelation 14:9b-11 (NET)

This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.

Revelation 14:12 (NET)

At first I included the final statement with the declaration of the third angel only.  Then I realized that the eternal gospel the first angel “evangelized” was not exactly “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ before you die or burn in hell for all eternity.”  Nor was it 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.  In fact, it didn’t mention Jesus at all.  It occurred to me that seeing and hearing an angel evangelize an eternal gospel like this might also require some steadfast endurance of those who hold to their faith in Jesus (Galatians 1:8 NET).

But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell (ἀνάθεμα)![5]

I assumed that the fall of Babylon might require the same endurance for reasons that were not yet clear.  And at present I don’t know whether—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus—define the word saints or qualify which saints are under consideration here.  I’ll consider the torture of those who worship the beast in its own essay.

I related the two judgments to the three angels like this:

Three Angels

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead…

Revelation 14:6, 7 (NET)

A second angel followed the first…

Revelation 14:8 (NET)

A third angel followed the first two…

Revelation 14:9-11 (NET)

Then I looked, and a white cloud appeared, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man!  He had a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.

Revelation 14:14 (NET)

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.

Revelation 14:17 (NET)

Then another angel came out of the temple, shouting in a loud voice to the one seated on the cloud, “Use your sickle and start to reap, because the time to reap has come, since the earth’s harvest is ripe!”

Revelation 14:15 (NET)

Another angel, who was in charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to the angel who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes off the vine of the earth, because its grapes are now ripe.”

Revelation 14:18 (NET)

So the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Revelation 14:16 (NET)

So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes from the vineyard of the earth and tossed them into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  Then the winepress was stomped outside the city, and blood poured out of the winepress up to the height of horses’ bridles for a distance of almost two hundred miles.

Revelation 14:19, 20 (NET)

Despite everything I’ve been through I wanted to relate the outcome of the two judgments to the messages of the three angels like this:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel (εὐαγγέλιον) to proclaim (εὐαγγελίσαι, a form of εὐαγγελίζω) to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language, and people.  He declared in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment (ἡ ὥρα τῆς κρίσεως αὐτοῦ) has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”

Revelation 14:6, 7 (NET)

A second angel followed the first, declaring (λέγων, a form of λέγω): “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city!  She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral (πορνείας, a form of πορνεία) passion.”

Revelation 14:8 (NET)

 

A third angel followed the first two, declaring (λέγων, a form of λέγω) in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb.  And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.”

Revelation 14:9-11 (NET)

They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful!  Just and true are your ways, King over the nations!”

Revelation 15:3 (NET)

…they blasphemed the name of God…and they would not repent and give him glory.

Revelation 16:9b (NET)

“Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy?  All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelation 15:4 (NET)

…they blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, since it was so horrendous.

Revelation 16:21b (NET)

They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their sufferings and because of their sores, but nevertheless they still refused to repent of their deeds.

Revelation 16:11 (NET)

Then I looked, and a white cloud appeared, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man!  He had a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.  Then another angel came out of the temple, shouting in a loud voice to the one seated on the cloud, “Use your sickle and start to reap, because the time to reap has come, since the earth’s harvest is ripe!”  So the one seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Revelation 14:14-16 (NET)

Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  Another angel, who was in charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to the angel who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes off the vine of the earth, because its grapes are now ripe.”  So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the grapes from the vineyard of the earth and tossed them into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  Then the winepress was stomped outside the city, and blood poured out of the winepress up to the height of horses’ bridles for a distance of almost two hundred miles.

Revelation 14:17-20 (NET)

Then I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and his image and the number of his name. They were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps given to them by God.

Revelation 15:2 (NET)

Then I saw another great and astounding sign in heaven: seven angels who have seven final plagues (they are final because in them God’s anger is completed).

Revelation 15:1 (NET)

Judgment and condemnation would be easier for me to grasp if:

1) The first angel said, “Fear God and give him glory…and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”
2) Then in response to that people said, “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful!  Just and true are your ways, King over the nations!  Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy?  All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
3) Then in response to that one like a son of man…swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped; that is, those who feared God and gave Him glory.
4) Then those who feared God and gave Him glory were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps given to them by God.

Or conversely that:

1) Those who did not fear God but worshipped the beast and his image…
2) Were those who blasphemed the name of God, who would not repent and give Him glory…
3) And they were tossedinto the great winepress of the wrath of God
4) To face the seven final plagues.

But that isn’t what’s revealed here, is it?  Those who sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb probably conquered the beast and his image and the number of his name[6] by refusing to worship him, his image or take the mark.  What looked to John like their “reaping” by one like a son of man, will probably look like mass executions to their contemporaries on earth.  Their “reaping” is immediately preceded by Revelation 14:13 (NET):

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’”  “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.”

It is after they find themselves standing by the sea of glass, holding harps given to them by God[7] that they give glory[8] to God—Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful!  Just and true are your ways[9]—and can’t imagine how or why anyone would not fear Him—Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy?[10]

Meanwhile, back on the earth, those who worshiped the beast, and were tossed…into the great winepress of the wrath of God,[11] when the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to scorch people with fire, and they were scorched by the terrible heat, yet (καὶ)[12] they blasphemed the name of God, who has ruling authority over these plagues, and they would not repent and give him glory.[13]  When the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast so that darkness covered his kingdom, and people began to bite their tongues because of their pain, they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their sufferings and because of their sores, but nevertheless[14] (καὶ) they still refused to repent of their deeds.[15]  And finally, when Babylon the great was remembered before God, and was given the cup filled with the wine made of God’s furious wrath,[16] gigantic hailstones, weighing about a hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people, but (καὶ) they blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, since it was so horrendous.[17]

The Greek word καὶ is usually translated and (see the KJV, NKJV, ASV, DNT, and YLT).  Three times the translators of the NET tried to create a contrast that may not be there in the text.  Without that contrast there is a very simple and obvious story here.  All deserved God’s wrath.  Those who received his mercy (albeit through refusing the mark of the beast and suffering execution) feared Him and glorified Him.  Those who received the wrath they deserved cursed Him and would not repent of their deeds.

God’s judgment is not about my righteousness.  It does not reflect or demonstrate my righteousness, but his.  The key here is in the song of Moses and the Lamb: you alone are holy.[18]  Why do you call me good? Jesus answered a question with another.  No one is good except God alone.[19]  For a long time I’ve thought that Jesus was asserting his divinity here in a backhanded, double reverse sort of way.  Now it seems so clear that He was fully embracing his humanity, walking humbly, led by the Spirit, dependent on the Holy Spirit’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[20]  No one is good except God alone, Jesus said.

We are told explicitly who will worship the beast (Revelation 13:7, 8 NET):

The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them.  He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed.

In other words, the judgment (and the condemnation, for that matter) was made even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling).[21]  So John on Patmos had a vision confirming the most difficult words Paul wrote (Romans 9:14-18 NET):

What shall we say then?  Is there injustice with God?  Absolutely not!  For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”  So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.  For the scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”  So then, God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.

My religious mind screams, “That’s not fair!”  But Paul heard my religious mind, or maybe his own (Romans 9:19-21 NET):

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault?  For who has ever resisted his will?”  But who indeed are you – a mere human being – to talk back to God?  Does what is molded say to the molder, Why have you made me like this?  Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use?

And my religious mind says, “No!  Hell, no!”  But the new man following the Spirit, hears the Lord Jesus say, “deny [your]self, take up [your] cross, and follow me,”[22] and listens as He prays to our Father in heaven, “not my will but yours be done.”[23]  Let God be proven true, Paul wrote, and every human being shown up as a liar, just as it is written:so that you [i.e., God, Paul quoted David at prayer here] will be justified in your words and will prevail when you are judged.”[24]  And as I fully embrace my humanity and truly believe that it does not depend on [my] desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy, I can hear something else in a fresh and new way (Romans 11:32-36 NET):

For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.  Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him?  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever!  Amen.

They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:3, 4 NET):

“Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful!  Just and true are your ways, King over the nations!  Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy?  All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Condemnation or Judgment? – Part 6

Back to Torture, Part 3

Back to Torture, Part 5

Back to Cult Prostitutes


[6] Revelation 15:2 (NET)

[7] Revelation 15:2 (NET)

[8] Revelation 14:7 (NET)

[9] Revelation 15:3 (NET)

[10] Revelation 15:4a (NET)

[11] Revelation 14:19 (NET)

[12] NET Note: “Here καί (kai) has been translated as ‘yet’ to indicate the contrast present in this context.”

[13] Revelation 16:8, 9 (NET)

[14] NET Note: “Grk ‘and they did not repent.’ Here καί (kai) has been translated as ‘but nevertheless’ to express the contrast here.”

[15] Revelation 16:10, 11 (NET)

[16] Revelation 16:19b (NET)

[17] Revelation 16:21 (NET)

[18] Revelation 15:4 (NET)

[19] Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19 (NET)

[20] Galatians 5:22, 23 (NET)

[21] Romans 9:11 (NET)

[22] Matthew 16:24 (NET)

[23] Luke 22:42b (NET)

[24] Romans 3:4 (NET)

The Will of God – Jesus, Part 3

Jesus trusted his Father so completely that the flesh of Adam was much more subjugated in Him than in me.  Still, I can think of two incidents where the flesh made an appearance and was recorded by the Gospel writers.  Matthew and Mark had different opinions as to whether the first incident happened before or after Jesus cleansed the temple, but both associated it with that event.

Now early in the morning, Matthew recorded, as [Jesus] returned to the city, he was hungry.  After noticing a fig tree by the road he went to it, but found nothing on it except leaves.  He said to it, “Never again will there be fruit from you!”  And the fig tree withered at once.[1]  The tree appeared as if it should have fruit on it but did not have any.  Mark wrote: Now the next day, as they went out from Bethany, [Jesus] was hungry.  After noticing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it.  When he came to it he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.  He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”  And his disciples heard it.[2]

Mark added the following details: 1) The fig tree that withered at once was overnight, 2) Jesus saw and approached the tree from a distance; and 3) it was not the season for figs.  This is what persuades me that I am witnessing the flesh of Adam in Jesus, a frustration that overcame his reason.

It’s not too hard to see that the actual frustration Jesus vented on the fig tree was the hypocrisy of his own people.  He might have cursed those who were selling and buying in the temple courts[3] with chilling effect.  Instead, as a man like Adam He began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts.  He turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.  Then he began to teach them[4]

The second incident occurred in the garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed.  Jesus, born of the Spirit of God, knew that the death of the flesh of Adam was part of his Father’s purpose for his life and ministry.  Now my soul is greatly distressed, He said.  And what should I say?  ‘Father, deliver me from this hour’?  No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour.[5]  But Jesus, also born of the flesh of Adam, prayed, My Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me![6]

It is important to me to believe that Jesus’ willingness to suffer was of utmost concern to his Father.  I believe Jesus could have said, Father, deliver me from this hour, with complete impunity.  He still would have sat at his Father’s right hand, and his Father would have said something equivalent to, “Don’t worry about it.  We’ll get’em next time, Tiger.”  But Jesus did not pray Father, deliver me from this hour.  He never put his Father in that position.

Jesus prayed, Father, if possible, let this cup pass from me!  Yet not what I will (θέλω),[7] but what you will.[8]  He was strengthened by the Holy Spirit, then prayed a second time, My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will (θέλημα)[9] must be done.”[10]  Luke wrote, Father, if you are willing (βούλει, a form of βούλομαι),[11] take this cup away from me.  Yet not my will (θέλημα) but yours be done.[12]  As subjugated as the flesh was in Jesus He did not rely on his desires (θέλω or θέλημα) to direct his path, but relied on the will of God.

While I am completely convinced by my own experience (for the Scripture doesn’t say it) that the living Holy Spirit of God interceded with Jesus in real time and space, and strengthened Him at that precise moment, I can’t escape how the same Holy Spirit interceded for Jesus in other ways as well.  The flesh of Adam transmitted to Jesus came through his mother.  When I see Jesus praying My Father, if this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will must be done, I can’t help but see Mary answering Gabriel, Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.[13]  This is the spirit of the woman who raised Jesus as a boy.

I am becoming more and more convinced that the idea of human sacrifice (including the death of the Lord Jesus) did not originate in the mind of God.  They have also built places of worship in a place called Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom so that they can sacrifice their sons and daughters by fire. That is something I never commanded them to do!  Indeed, it never even entered my mind to command such a thing![14]  They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire.  Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make!  They are something I never told them to do!  Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind![15]  They built places of worship for the god Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom [that is, Gehenna] so that they could sacrifice their sons and daughters to the god Molech.  Such a disgusting practice was not something I commanded them to do!  It never even entered my mind to command them to do such a thing![16]

Though I don’t believe that Jesus’ sacrifice originated in the mind of God, I do believe it is evidence of how far God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—will go to communicate to the religious minds of those born of the flesh of Adam, who thought that such sacrifice should have some merit.  So as I see Jesus praying, your will must be done, accepting the death that will put an end to sacrifice—I want (θέλω) mercy and not sacrifice[17]—and an end to oaths of righteousness—I say to you, do not take oaths at all[18]—and I see his mother praying, let this happen to me according to your word, I also see an unnamed girl who was commemorated for her words, My father, since you made an oath to the Lord, do to me as you promised,[19] after she returned from mourning her virginity and was sacrificed to God to fulfill Jephthah’s reckless oath.  Here I find my understanding of one of Jesus’ more enigmatic sayings, enigmatic to those of us who must follow Him by faith rather than by sight.

If anyone wants to become my follower, Jesus said, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.[20]  Peter and Paul helped me see what it meant to deny myself, to believe that I have died to sin,[21] to say, I do not know the man[22] to the old man that was crucified with [Christ] so that the body of sin would no longer dominate[23] me.  To take up [my] cross is to join Jesus distrusting my own desires and saying to God, not my will but yours be done.[24]  And finally, to follow Jesus is to love and forgive others as He did, which is the fulfillment of the law.[25]  Freely you received, Jesus told his disciples, freely give.[26]

Back to Romans, Part 22

Back to Romans, Part 26

Back to Romans, Part 28

Back to Romans, Part 32

Back to The Soul

Back to The Righteousness of God

Back to Who Am I? Part 6


[1] Matthew 21:18, 19 (NET)

[2] Mark 11:12-14 (NET)

[4] Mark 11:15b-17a (NET)

[5] John 12:27 (NET)

[6] Matthew 26:39 (NET)

[8] Matthew 26:39 (NET)

[10] Matthew 26:42 (NET)

[12] Luke 22:42 (NET)

[13] Luke 1:38 (NET)

[14] Jeremiah 7:31 (NET)

[15] Jeremiah 19:5 (NET)

[16] Jeremiah 32:35 (NET)

[17] Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 (NET) ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν a quotation of Hosea 6:6 from the Septuagint, ἔλεος θέλω καὶ οὐ θυσίαν.  Hosea 6:6 translated from contemporary Hebrew reads, For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice (NET).  See also Hebrews 10:5-9 (NET).

[18] Matthew 5:34 (NET)

[19] Judges 11:36 (NET)

[20] Matthew 16:24 (NET)

[23] Romans 6:6 (NET)

[24] Luke 22:42 (NET)

[26] Matthew 10:8 (NET)