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The Passion Story, Part 4

July 22, 2011

Now I will continue from the point where Jesus is taken by the servants of the priests. All the Gospels record that before this one of the disciples attacked one of the servants of the high priest and cut off his ear. Only John specifies that this disciple was Peter; John also gives the name of the servant as Malchus.

Only Matthew and Mark tell us that all the disciples abandoned Jesus after his arrest. In each of the Gospels, though, Peter follows Jesus and his captors to the house of the high priest. This, though, is not supposed to be an obvious act, because Peter does not want to be associated with Jesus. In John, both Peter and at least one other disciple follow Jesus. It is not clear if this disciple is also trying to dissociate himself from Jesus, as Matthew and Mark record.

If he is, I suppose that he also would have to answer whether he is one of Jesus’s disciples, as Peter has to do. And if this disciple really has forsaken Jesus, he could be expected also to deny that he is one of Jesus’s disciples. It is important to note that this would not contradict the Gospels, because at most only in Luke (22:31, 32) does Peter seem to be singled out for denying Jesus. There, however, the language does not have to carry this meaning, and the “strengthen your brothers” part may be interpreted as implying the opposite. (The scene between Peter and Jesus in John 21 also may be a singling out of Peter, though. Remember, John doesn’t say whether any other disciple forsook Jesus.)

I want to get the Denial Story with Peter, but that will take a longer post. For now, I will take a look at the different versions of the council of Jesus’s Jewish opponents. The “whole Sanhedrin” in Matthew 26:59 wanted “false” witness against Jesus, we are told. And in Mark 14:55-64, “all” members of the “whole Sanhedrin” condemn him to death.

It’s interesting that Luke says this but still identifies Joseph of Arimathea as a “member of the Council” (Lk. 23:50) and also a good person who had not gone along with Jesus’s enemies. In Mark, Joseph is a member of the Council (15:43), and in Matthew, he is only a rich disciple of Jesus (27:57). As we will see, however, there are certain places where Matthew and Luke do disagree against Mark. And it’s looks as though I will have to finish the Council Story in another post, as well.

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