Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter tweets

by John D Ramsey

Below are my eight Easter Tweets along with some brief and some not so brief explanations.

Easter Tweet: Tuesday of Passion Week is well documented: Mt 21:20–26:16, Mk 11:20–14:11, Lk 20:1–22:6. What happened that night in Bethany?

Jesus had dinner at the home of “Simon the leper.” While he was there, an unnamed woman entered the house carrying an alabaster jar of pure nard. She anointed Jesus head with the perfume. Many disciples echoed Judas’ disgruntlement with Mary’s (sister of Lazarus) anointing of Jesus’ feet which is recorded in John 12. Jesus rebuked the group of disciples just as he had rebuked Judas in John 12. Judas then went to the high priest and agreed to betray Jesus.

Easter Tweet: Women anointed Jesus 3 times in the Gospels. What are the differences among Lk 7:37–50, Jn 12:2–8, Mt 26:1–16, and Mk 14:1–11?

Many scholars attempt to coerce the four accounts of Jesus’ anointings into one event. However, a carful reading of the Gospels reveals that there were three separate anointings. Luke’s account in Luke 7:37-50 occurs in the city of Nain early in Jesus ministry.

As Jesus was approaching Nain, a funeral procession was carrying a widow’s only son to his grave. Jesus raised the boy to life and returned him to his mother. A careful reader will draw an association to Elisha and the resurrection of the Shunammite woman’s son because Shunam and Nain are sister cities on the same mountain in Galilee. According to Nain, everyone in the city except for the Pharisees had received John the Baptists baptism for repentance. John’s message, of course, “the kingdom of heaven is near.” Those receiving John’s baptism were eagerly awaiting the Christ (anointed one).

While in Nain, Jesus was a guest in the home of Simon the Pharisee. While he was there a “sinful woman” entered and washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and her tears, kissed his feet, and anointed his feet perfume from an alabaster jar.

Simon silently demurred, but Jesus eloquently responded, saying,

“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:44-47 (NASB)

This happened early in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.

The next anointing is recorded in John 12. Jesus came to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus most likely arriving Friday afternoon before the Sabbath. John says that they held a dinner that evening for Jesus. At this dinner, Mary anointed Jesus feet and wiped them with her hair. She is no doubt emulating the actions of the woman in Nain, why?

The woman in Nain witnessed the resurrection of the widow’s son. Since her baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, she had been awaiting the “Anointed One” When she recognized him, she anointed his feet. Meditating on the actions of the woman at Nain, one might recall the prophecy of Isaiah,

“On account of this, my people shall know my name. On account of this in that day, for I am he, the one speaking; I am at hand. As an hour upon the mountains, as feet announcing good news, the hearing of peace, as of announcing good news – good things; for audibly I will produce your deliverance, saying, ‘Zion, your God shall reign’” Isaiah 52:6-7 (ABP)

Likewise, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, anoints her Savior’s feet with perfume. Her actions are in concurrence with the woman of Nain.

The woman at Nain anointed Jesus' feet early in his ministry as he carried good news throughout Israel. Mary anointed Jesus' feet as he prepared to enter Jerusalem for the Triumphal Entry.

The third anointing occurs after the Triumphal entry according to Matthew and Mark. During the first two events, Jesus’ feet are anointed. Tuesday evening of the Passion Week, Jesus’ head is anointed. This anointing recalls Psalm 133,

“Behold, indeed what is good or what is delightful,
none other than the dwelling of the brethren together.
As perfumed liquid upon the head going down upon the beard
– the beard of Aaron;
the going down upon the edge of his garment;
as dew of Hermon going down upon the mountains of Zion;
for there the LORD gave charge to the blessing
– life into the eon.”
Psalm 133 (ABP)

Psalm 133 recalls Aaron’s anointing as high priest. Likewise, the anointing of Jesus’ head designates him as the High Priest such as the writer of Hebrews discusses. A woman anointed Jesus’ head on Jesus’ last night in Bethany. The following evening Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane.

When compared, the three anointings correlate to the three ministries of Jesus, the Christ: prophet, king, and priest. The woman in Nain anointed his feet early in his ministry as a prophet. Mary anointed Jesus’ feet before he entered Jerusalem as the rightful heir to the throne of David. The unnamed woman anointed Jesus' before he, as a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, offered himself as a sacrifice of sin for the whole world.

Easter Tweet: Some scholars suggest that Jesus took a Wednesday vacation. How do Mt 26:66, Mk 14:49, Lk 19:47, and Lk 21:53 prove otherwise?

The concept that Jesus took a day off on Wednesday derives from the insistence that the Crucifixion occurred on Friday. While Tuesday is well documented in the Gospels, the next day in the record is the day of Jesus’ arrest. If Jesus was arrested on Thursday evening instead of Wednesday evening, then indeed there is no record of Wednesday in the Gospels.

Scholars rather than adjusting their calendars to align with the record speculate on a scenario that says nothing happened on Wednesday. However Matthew, Mark, and Luke use Jesus’ words to preempt such speculation because Jesus asserted Wednesday night at his arrest that he had taught every day in the temple.

Easter Tweet: Assuming a Jewish calendar (not Roman), how many partial days from Friday afternoon to Sunday before sunrise? How many nights?

Much of the misconception of a Friday Crucifixion comes from a Roman, midnight to midnight, calendar forcibly imposed upon the Gospel accounts. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday comprise the three days. However, when the Crucifixion is viewed from a Jewish calendar perspective you cannot reach the same conclusion. Assuming a Friday morning Crucifixion and a Friday night burial along with an early morning (before-sunrise resurrection) there are only two days and two nights. A Thursday Crucifixion, however, aligns perfectly with Matthew 12:40,
“For as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” Matthew 12:40 (NASB)

Easter Tweet: Some scholars suggest that “three days and three nights,” in Mt 12:40, is a Hebraism. What did the scholars in Mt 27:64 think?

A Hebraism is a figure of speech coming from the Hebrew language. They are colloquialisms. Many scholars believe that “three days and three nights” was a Hebraism meaning an indeterminate period of time consisting of more than a day and less than a week.

If Jesus’ assertion were a Hebraism, then certainly the scholars of the day would have interpreted it to be so. However, in Matthew 27 we find that the Jews were fixated on the number three asking Pilate to secure the grave until after the third day. If Jesus’ words were Hebraism, then three days and three nights might have extended to four or five days and nights, perhaps even six days and nights. In fact, the Hebrew scholars of the day took Jesus’ words quite literally, yet Christians commemorating a Friday Crucifixion do not.

Easter Tweet: Assuming a Sunday before-sunrise morning resurrection (Jn 20:1), from Mt 12:40 on what day must the Crucifixion have occurred?

John makes it clear that Mary arrives in the early morning while it is still dark. Calculating from an early Sunday morning resurrection three days and three nights will place Jesus’ burial on Thursday. This is not for scholars to debate. This is arithmetic.

Easter Tweet: Some scholars claim that Mt 27:45, Mk 15:33, and Lk 23:44 describe a solar eclipse. From astronomy and Ex 12, prove otherwise.

Too many people have spent too much time trying to fix the year of the Crucifixion according to the calculations of solar eclipses that may have occurred in the early first century. No doubt, their mathematical calculations are over my head. However, their hypothesis is entirely flawed.

Passover, the day on which Jesus was crucified, occurs at the full moon. A solar eclipse may only occur during a new moon.

The darkness that covered the earth from the sixth hour until the ninth hour could not have been a naturally occurring solar eclipse.

Easter Tweet: According to Mk 14:12-21, when did the Last Supper occur? According to Jn 19:14, when did the Crucifixion occur? Explain this.

In the Gospel accounts, three calendars are in use:

  1. The traditional Jewish lunar calendar which begins and ends each day with the evening twilight (first three stars).
  2. The Diaspora calendar which is similar to the traditional Jewish calendar, but rather begins each day with the morning sunrise.
  3. The Roman Julian calendar which begins each day at midnight.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke write according to the Diaspora calendar, while John writes from the perspective of the traditional Jewish calendar and the Julian calendar. This is indicated by the timing of events during the Crucifixion. According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, darkness occurred from the sixth to the ninth hour. John records that Pilate condemned Jesus to die about the sixth hour. This is not a discrepancy. The synoptic writers are counting their hours from sunrise, while John is counting his hours from midnight.

The synoptic writers’ accounts when compared with John’s accounts confirm that the three were using the Diaspora calendar, which was also in use by the Sadducees in charge of the temple. John calls the day of the Crucifixion, the day of preparation for the Passover (John 19:14); however, Mark indicates that Jesus celebrated the Last Supper on the day that the Passover lambs were sacrificed, e.g., the day of preparation for the Passover. This apparent discrepancy is easily explained when comparing the two calendars. For the Jews abiding by the Diaspora calendar, the day of preparation and the day of the Passover meal were the same—beginning at sunrise. However, for those observing the traditional Jewish calendar, the day of preparation would not have begun until twilight that evening.

According to a literal translation of Exodus 12:6, the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed between the twilights. Consequently, the Diaspora and the traditional calendars held back-to-back Passovers.

Jesus was able to celebrate Passover with his disciples according to the temple schedule, but he became the Passover Lamb according to the Old Testament schedule of the week.

This also explains why John could call the day of the Crucifixion both the day of the preparation for the Passover and the day of preparation for the Sabbath (John 19:31, 42). Numbers 28:16 indicates that the day beginning with the Passover meal was to be a “holy convocation,” and no unnecessary work was allowed. Regardless of what day the Passover occurred, the following day would have been holy. Consequently, the Friday after the Crucifixion was a holy day, and Thursday was the day of preparation for the Friday night to Saturday night Sabbath.

Thursday was both the day of preparation for the Sabbath and day of preparation for the Passover according to the traditional calendar. Wednesday was both the day of preparation and the night of the Passover meal according to the Diaspora calendar.

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