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The Passion Story, Part 3

July 18, 2011
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Returning to the “Last Supper” scene, I need to note another problem. Matthew 26:21-26 says “as they did eat” and “as they were eating”; Mark 14:18-22 says the same thing. Luke 22:20 says that Jesus gave the cup after supper, although this probably just means after they had eaten the “communion” bread. However, John 13:2 says “supper being ended” when he gives the sop to Judas. A key point to remember, though, is that John never refers to the “communion” bread and wine. The differing time placements (Matthew 26:23-25 and John 13:26) of the identification of Judas as the betrayer are noteworthy.

Then we come to the Garden Story. John doesn’t give any details of what may have happened here. That book goes right on to the approach of the officers with Judas. John is the only Gospel where Judas doesn’t have to identify Jesus, with a kiss or anything else. Judas, for some reason, uses a kiss in the other three. I suppose the kiss is supposed to be a fulfillment of the “betrayal by a friend” prophecies that are said to exist.

It’s interesting that Luke only says “Judas, one of the twelve to identify the betrayer, since the book named two Judases are members of the Twelve in Luke 6:16. It does, however, identify Judas Iscariot as the betrayer in that verse and in Luke 22:3. The other two Gospels which list all of Jesus’s twelve disciples (Matthew and Mark) have a Simon the Canaanite and Thaddeus (in backward order) directly behind Judas Iscariot. Luke gives, in order, Judas Iscariot, Judas the brother of James, and Simon Zelotes. It has therefore been assumed that the two Simons are the same and the brother of James is the same as Thaddeus. Note, though, that neither Matthew nor Luke identifies Thaddeus as a brother of James or a son of Alphaeus (the father of James)

The other difference in the Garden Story that poses a problem is the relationship of Jesus’s rebuke of the disciples for sleeping and the approach of the officers with Judas. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus goes away from Peter, James, and John three different times and each time returns to find them sleeping. He only is recorded to have rebuked them the first time, however. The third time, he doesn’t rebuke them at all; instead, he says, “Sleep on now.”

In Luke, the story is entirely different. Nothing is said about taking Peter, James, and John a little way farther toward where he prayed. Jesus only goes away to pray by himself one time and, when he returns, rebukes all the disciples for sleeping. However, additional times of prayer are excluded, because Luke 22:47 says that Judas came “while he yet spake.”

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