Jesus predicts his death

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Early Christian Catacomb painting of Jesus and his disciples, pre-third century.

There are several references in the Synoptic Gospels (the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke) to Jesus predicting his own death, the first two occasions building up to the final prediction of his crucifixion.[1] Matthew's Gospel adds a prediction, before he and his disciples enter Jerusalem, that he will be crucified there.[2]

Gospel of Mark[edit]

In the Gospel of Mark, generally agreed to be the earliest Gospel, written around the year 70,[3][4] Jesus predicts his death three times. Walter Schmithals, noting that this Gospel also contains verses in which Jesus appears to predict his Passion, suggests that these represent the earlier traditions available to the author, and the three death predictions are redactional creations of the author.[5] The setting for the first prediction is somewhere near Caesarea Philippi, immediately after Peter proclaims Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus tells his followers that "the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again".[6] When Peter objects, Jesus tells him: "Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men". (Mark 8:31–33)

Gospel of Matthew[edit]

The Gospel of Matthew 16:21–28 includes this episode,[7] saying that Jesus "from that time", i.e. on a number of occasions, Jesus "began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed ...".[8]

The Gospel of Luke 9:22–27 shortens the account, dropping the dialogue between Jesus and Peter.

Each time Jesus predicts his arrest and death, the disciples in some way or another manifest their incomprehension, and Jesus uses the occasion to teach them new things.[9] The second warning appears in Mark 9:30–32 (and also in Matthew 17:22–23) as follows:

He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.[10]

The third prediction in Matthew 20:17–19 specifically mentions crucifixion:

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"[11]

The fourth prediction in Matthew is found in Matthew 26:1-2, immediately before the plot made against him by the religious Jewish leaders:

"As you know, the Passover is two days away — and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."

The hypothetical Q source, widely considered by scholars to be a collection of sayings of Jesus used, in addition to the Gospel of Mark, by the authors of the Luke and Matthew Gospels, contains no predictions of the death of Jesus.[12]

Gospel of John[edit]

The Gospel of John, in chapters 12 to 17, also mentions several occasions where Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure, which the gospel also refers to as his "glorification":[13]

Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.[14]

Comparison of Synoptic Gospel predictions[edit]

Each of the Synoptic Gospels refers more times Jesus foretelling His death and resurrection after three days. The concordances are summarized in the following table:

Matthew Mark Luke
Matthew 16:21-23: From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”[1] Mark 8:31-33: And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”[2] Luke 9:21-22: And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”[3]
Matthew 17:22-23: Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.[4] Mark 9:30-32: Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.” But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.[5] Luke 9:43-45: But while everyone marveled at all the things which Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was hidden from them so that they did not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this saying.[6]
Matthew 20:17-19: Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” [7] Mark 10:32-34: Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; and they will mock Him, and [a]scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again[8] Luke 18:31-34: Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.[9]
Matthew 26:32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”[15]

As shown in the Daily Mass Readings provided in the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church,[16] the prediction given by Jesus in Mark 9:32 has one of its main references in the Wisdom of Solomon:[17]

12 Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous; because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings: he upbraideth us with our offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy the transgressings of our education. 17 Let us see if his words be true: and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him. For if the just man be the son of God, he will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness, and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with a shameful death: for by his own saying he shall be respected.

— Book of Wisdom 2:12, 17-20 (KJV translation)

Historical context[edit]

Jesus made predictions about the "Son of Man." This is a Hebrew term with five different meanings, depending on the context in which it is used: all mankind (humanity as a whole), a human being (a man, as opposed to God), a personal pronoun ("I", "myself"), a sinner (an unjust person, as opposed to a just person),[18] and the messiah (the awaited king).[19]

Jesus predicted that the Son of Man would be handed over/betrayed to the elders, the chief priests, the scribes, and the teachers of the law. In the Second Temple period, the Sanhedrian members were called "elders,"[20] a high priest was a "chief priest,"[21] and the successors of Ezra the scribe - who became teachers of the law in those days - were called the "scribes."[22][23] John 18 relate that Jesus was tried by the two chief priests at the time, Annas and Caiaphas.[24]

Jesus also predicted that the Son of Man would be crucified by the Romans/Gentiles. The Hebrew word gentile means non-Jewish people.[25] Judaism does not allow crucifixion as a means of punishment,[26] but Ancient Roman law did allow certain persons, such as slaves and pirates, to be crucified.[27][28]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ St Mark's Gospel and the Christian faith by Michael Keene 2002 ISBN 0-7487-6775-4 pages 24-25
  2. ^ The Temptations of Jesus in Mark's Gospel by Susan R. Garrett 1996 ISBN 978-0-8028-4259-6 pages 74-75
  3. ^ Witherington (2001), p. 31: 'from 66 to 70, and probably closer to the latter'
  4. ^ Hooker (1991), p. 8: 'the Gospel is usually dated between AD 65 and 75.'
  5. ^ Walter Schmithals, The Theology of the First Christians (Westminster John Knox Press, 1997) page 22.
  6. ^ The Gospel according to Mark: meaning and message by George Martin 2005 ISBN 0-8294-1970-5 pages 200-202
  7. ^ Matthew for Everyone: Chapters 16-28 by Tom Wright 2004 ISBN 0-664-22787-2 page 9
  8. ^ Matthew 16:21
  9. ^ Mercer Dictionary of the Bible by Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard 1998 ISBN 0-86554-373-9 page 550
  10. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Mark 9:30-32 - New Revised Standard Version".
  11. ^ Matthew 20:17–19
  12. ^ John S Kloppenborg, Q, the Earliest Gospel (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008) page 75.
  13. ^ Dictionary of biblical imagery by Leland Ryken, Jim Wilhoit, Tremper Longman, Colin Duriez, Douglas Penney, Daniel G. Reid 1998 ISBN 0-8308-1451-5 page 269
  14. ^ John 12:23-24
  15. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Matthew 26:32 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  16. ^ "Daily Mass Readings - 23 September 2018 – Sunday". catholiewtn.com. Archived from the original on Nov 21, 2018.
  17. ^ "The 1611 King James Bible. Book of Wisdom, chapter, vv. 12, and 17 to 20". kingjamesbibleonline.org. Archived from the original on Jun 28, 2012.
  18. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Son of Man The rendering for the Hebrew "ben adam," applied to mankind in general, as opposed to and distinct from non-human relationship; expressing also the larger, unlimited implications of humanity as differentiated from limited (e.g., national) forms and aspects of human life...The New Testament expression ὅ ὑιὸς τοῦ ἀνθρόπου is a translation of the Aramaic "bar nasha," and as such could have been understood only as the substitute for a personal pronoun, or as emphasizing the human qualities of those to whom it is applied..."Sons of men," or "children of men," designates also the slanderers and evil-doers in contrast to the righteous, that is, Israel (Ps. lvii. 5 [A. V. 4], lviii. 2 [A. V. 1]).
  19. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Messiah The Messiah is called "the Son of Man," and is described as an angelic being, his countenance resembling a man's, and as occupying a seat in heaven beside the Ancient of Days (xlvi. 1), or, as it is expressed in ch. xxxix. 7, "under the wings of the Lord of spirits."...In the Assumptio Mosis, however (c. 4 B.C.), it may be concluded, on the ground of the identification of the Son of Man = Messiah with Enoch = Meṭaṭron in Enoch lxxi. 14, that it is the preexistent Messiah who is referred to (x. 2), for it is stated that, at the end of the last tribulation, when God's dominion will be established over all creation, "the hands of the angel who stands in the highest place will be filled, and he will immediately avenge them [Israel] on their enemies."
  20. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Sanhedrin Antiochus V. also greeted the gerusia in a letter to the Jewish people. This gerusia, which stood at the head of the people, was the body that was subsequently called "sanhedrin." The date and the manner of its origin can not now be determined. Josephus calls it either συνέδριον or βουλή, and its members πρεσβΎτεροι (="elders," i.e., ) or βουλευταί (="councilors"), whose number was probably the same as that of the members of the Sanhedrin in the hall of hewn stone, namely, seventy or seventy-one.
  21. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Priest Besides the "chief priest" ("kohen ha-rosh") mention is made of the "kohen mishnch," the one holding the second place (II Kings xxv. 18 et al.).
  22. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Scribe Body of teachers whose office was to interpret the Law to the people, their organization beginning with Ezra, who was their chief, and terminating with Simeon the Just.
  23. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Education The men thus engaged are designated as V05p043011.jpg or V05p043012.jpg, i.e., expounders of the Torah. Here for the first time in Jewish history is an organized body of teachers. The Prophets had been replaced by the priests; these in turn were succeeded by the scribes, "the wise" (comp. B. B. 12a, V05p043013.jpg). The latter are described in Dan. xii. 3 as the teachers, V05p043014.jpg; "they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." The Talmud refers the second clause to the teachers.
  24. ^ USCCB John 18:19-24 The high priest questioned Jesus...Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
  25. ^ The Cambridge history of Judaism, Volume 2, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 193. ISBN 978-0-521-24377-3
  26. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Crucifixion Among the modes of Capital Punishment known to the Jewish penal law, crucifixion is not found; the "hanging" of criminals "on a tree," mentioned in Deut. xxi. 22, was resorted to in New Testament times only after lapidation (Sanh. vi. 4; Sifre, ii. 221, ed. Friedmann, Vienna, 1864).
  27. ^ Robison, John C. (June 2002). "Crucifixion in the Roman World: The Use of Nails at the Time of Christ". Studia Antiqua. 2.
  28. ^ Zias, Joseph (1998). "Crucifixion in Antiquity: The Evidence". www.mercaba.org. Retrieved March 10, 2018.

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