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The Passion Story, Part 14

August 20, 2011
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The last two sayings of Jesus from the Crucifixion Story are from the same scene (Jn. 19:25-27). John records that Jesus commanded “the disciple whom He loved” to take care of Jesus’s mother and treat her as his own mother. All I have to comment on this is to bring up an interesting thing Frank Morison caused me to think about by his book Who Moved the Stone?

Morison points out that Mark 15:40 lists Salome as being present at Jesus’s crucifixion. In Mark 15:47, however, omits Salome from the other women she was with before, although she is back with them in Mark 16:1. Matthew 27:56 lists the same two other women as Mark does, and then identifies a third woman as “the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” This is probably meant to be the same woman as Salome.

So it’s interesting that “the disciple whom He loved” is often identified as John. That means that the mother of James and John was absent at the same time John 19:27 says “the disciple whom [Jesus] loved” took Jesus’s mother to John’s own house. Just to give my own evaluation of this, I think it’s a little interesting, but I think it doesn’t come nearly close enough even to being a likely connection. Mark (and Matthew and Luke) doesn’t even mention Jesus’s mother. That’s more noteworthy in my opinion. It’s not likely that the disciple John’s mother who have to be absent, just because one of her sons was taking Jesus’s mother to the son’s house.

Now I need to jump over to the other two Gospels, Matthew and Luke, but also compare them to Mark and John. Matthew (in 27:52, 53) is the only Gospel that includes a reference to the “arising” of “many saints” at Jesus’s death. What’s strange is that the passage in Matthew says that these saints “arose” at the time of Jesus’s death but didn’t come out of their tombs until after his resurrection!

Perhaps this was some bizarre apologetic on the part of the author of Matthew, to explain why empty tombs were plentiful in Jerusalem at that time. I don’t think that’s likely, however. I think that it’s this event is not believable for at least two reasons. One, none of the other Gospels mentions it. I mean, I don’t know how many is “many” in this passage, but surely this wouldn’t have been unknown to Christians. If these revived people had memories of the afterlife, they surely would have caused a stir.

Even if they didn’t remember the afterlife, or were not expected by Matthew even to have been conscious during that part of it, several of these people going around Jerusalem and saying that they had just come out of graves would have created an environment of less skepticism of Jesus’s disciples’ claims that he has been resurrected. Also, if they had recently died and were recognized by living friends or relatives, those people would add their testimony to the miracle. The connection between this event and Jesus’s resurrection would not be hard to make.

Theologically, these people could not have experienced a “full” resurrection, according to the author of Colossians (not necessarily Paul) and the author of Revelation. Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5 both say that Jesus himself was the first human to be resurrected. The writer of 1 Corinthian 15:20-23 (who is usually thought to be the real Paul) may be implying this as well, when he identifies Jesus and no one else as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Surely these writers were aware of “resurrections” in the traditional Hebrew scriptures, even if they were not familiar with the Gospel stories of resurrections for individuals besides Jesus. The difference in their minds between the two types of resurrections we can only guess at. I’m sure renewed mortal life, as opposed to eternal life, would be one difference. Sinless perfection and harmony with God may also be included. Luke (24:13-53) and John (20:19, implied) would probably agree that the people Jesus raised to life did not have the post-resurrection abilities they ascribe to him, and all of the Gospels.

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