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1. Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
The language as far as when this occurred is difficult. Some claim that this says that they actually went on the Sabbath. Yet I find it impossible to believe that the women would have been planning to prepare the Lord’s body with spices on the Sabbath day, for that would have been work, and no good Israelite woman would have broken the law in such a way even to decorate the body of her Lord. Yet the language here in Greek indicates that they came “on the first of the Sabbaths.” What does this mean? I believe that this is a reference to the seven Sabbaths they were to count after the Passover until they got to the feast of Pentecost fifty days later. The language here indicates that this was the first day counting down to Pentecost, in other words the first day in reckoning the Sabbaths until that day. Thus, it was indeed on the day after the Sabbath, Sunday, that they were coming, and not on the Sabbath itself. Different people might disagree with this and have different views about what the Greek means here. I must go back, however, to the fact that their actions indicated that this could not have actually been the Sabbath. Luke 23:56 tells us that they waited until after the Sabbath to visit the tomb. This is enough for me, and whatever the strange language here might mean, it cannot mean that they came to the tomb on the Sabbath. Read the rest of this entry »
33. And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull,
Since dead bodies or blood defiled a place ceremonially, any time a dead body was buried or blood was spilled (in the sense that a person was killed there) on a piece of land, that land became infamous for being an unclean place. Apparently someone had found a skull in this very place where Jesus was crucified, and thus the place came to be called “Place of a Skull” to warn all Israelites that that place was unclean. Since it was an unclean place already, it was an ideal place for the Romans to crucify prisoners without angering the Jews.
34. they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink.
There are several times during the events surrounding His crucifixion when such drinks are offered to him. Some like to confuse them, as they do many other things in the gospels, but let us not do so. Let us examine them, so that we can determine the differences between them and work out an order and an idea of what happened. Read the rest of this entry »
1. When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death.
2. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
The Lord’s trial had taken place in the middle of the night. They waited until morning, however, to carry Him to the governor to attempt to get for Him the punishment they desired: crucifixion. Notice once again that it is the chief priests and elders of the people who did this. As for the common people, they, as a whole, loved Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, these things were done while they were sleeping. How many evil things are likewise done in our day while good men are “sleeping”! Read the rest of this entry »
36. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”
Following their usual nightly routine, they come to this place called Gethsemane to pray. The word for “place” here is the Greek for a field or a farmer’s field. It is only in John 18:1 that we learn that there was a garden (or actually an orchard) there.
37. And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.
Once again the Lord Jesus leaves the majority of His disciples and takes only His most favored ones with Him further into the garden. Why is it, if the Lord could offer a higher position to some of His disciples here, that we suppose that everyone must receive equal blessings in the resurrection? No, God is no socialist. There are many who will receive great rewards, and many who will receive far lesser rewards, or even no rewards at all, but their lives only. This is all by God’s choice and design. Read the rest of this entry »
1. Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to his disciples,
2. “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Once again the Lord tells His disciples what is to soon take place. One has to marvel how it could be that they were not ready for what happened. Yet perhaps this is not so strange. When we don’t understand something and it bothers us, we all like to shut such unhappy things out of our minds. Not wishing to accept their Master’s words, the disciples no doubt did their best to forget them.
3. Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
4. and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.
The chief priests, scribes, and elders had attempted to catch Him in His words, but that strategy had utterly failed them. The Lord spoke the words of God, and thus was too wise to ever be caught in such a way by the likes of them. At last realizing that they cannot succeed in discrediting Him, they determine that their only course of action is to take Him and kill Him. They realize that the Lord’s popularity will prevent them from taking him openly, so they must resort to trickery and take Him secretly. Read the rest of this entry »
1. “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
The word “then” that begins this chapter shows that this is a picture of the kingdom of heaven at a specific time. The Lord told many parables about the kingdom of heaven at different stages in its development. This particular one takes place at the time He had just been talking about in chapter 24…the time of the return of Christ and the parousia. We must interpret this parable according to this time frame.
This practice of the virgins (who would be similar to the bridesmaids in our own wedding ceremonies) going out to meet the bridegroom was common in the marriage traditions of the day. See Psalm 45:14-15 for another example of this.
The word for “to meet” here is the Greek word “apanantesis,” and indicates the going out of one party to meet another and to return with the other. This is the same word that is used in I Thessalonians 4:17 for those who “meet” the Lord in the air. They meet Him to return to earth with Him, as in Matthew 24:30-31. They do not meet Him in order to return with Him into heaven, as is often taught in theological circles today. These virgins were to leave the wedding party to meet the bridegroom and then escort him back to the wedding party. In the same way those who meet the Lord in the air in I Thessalonians 4:17 do so to escort Him back to earth. Read the rest of this entry »
29. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
There is no doubt about this being figurative (as verse 22 earlier no doubt is as well, in spite of my spectacular musings.) The sun, moon, and stars in this passage are figurative for the governmental leaders of those days, just like the sun, moon, and stars are figures for Joseph’s family in his dream recorded in Genesis 37:9-10. They will be disrupted by the coming of the Lord, and their glory will so pale in comparison to His that it will be like the sun going out and the moon failing in light. This is not a terrible thing, as it might appear at first. Rather it is a wonderful thing, for it is a result of the light of the Lord shining in its full glory on earth at last! Read the rest of this entry »
21. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
There has always been a certain type of preacher and a certain type of preaching that has as its aim the frightening of men into believing the truth. Stories of great and terrible woe are meant to lead people to come trembling on their knees to God in order to escape the terrible fate that is in store for them. In times past, preachers used to speak of the torments of hell, making up many terrible tortures and inventing many heartless cruelties in their attempts to bring men to a place of repentance before God. In more recent times, the idea of the unpardonable sin has been used, and men are made to greatly fear this unpardonable sin and all it may entail. Now in this passage we come to another of these topics that is used by preachers to bring people into great vexation and fear, and that is the topic of the great tribulation. Read the rest of this entry »
1. Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
The temple was not, as many today think of it as having been, just one building. Rather, it was a whole complex of buildings, or a campus, if you will. It included not only many building, but also many outdoor courtyards and the like. The whole temple grounds had been expanded and beautified by Herod, so the temple at that time is sometimes called “Herod’s temple,” although the main temple building had originally been built by Ezra. This temple complex was indeed one of the wonders of the ancient world. In fact, one historian of the day is quoted as saying that you have not seen a beautiful building until you have seen the temple at Jerusalem! In the Old Testament, the temple is called “the Beauty of Holiness.” (see Psalm 29:2 and II Chron. 20:21, for example.) This was indeed an amazing structure, and so we can well understand why the disciples would have been eager to show their Lord its wonders. Read the rest of this entry »
1. Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,
2. saying: “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
What the Lord means here is that they had taken the position of royalty in Israel. Moses was in actual fact a king, as he was absolutely in charge of the people and answered to no one but God Himself. This was the position the Pharisees had chosen to take for themselves, and so they had taken to themselves Moses’ authority. Very similar to more modern organizations like the Catholic Church, who took for themselves the place of authority second only to God’s. Read the rest of this entry »