Category Archives: New Testament – Gospels

Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper & The Agony in the Garden

Today I received an E-mail from Touchstone Magazine regarding today’s date in the Church year calendar. Today is Maundy Thursday. I would like to reproduce that E-mail below for your reading pleasure. Also, please refer to my wife’s post about Maundy Thursday for a brief explanation of the day.



Lord Jesus Christ, brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person, who, having purged our sins, entered once into the holy place and sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high; mercifully bend our stiffened necks, we beseech You, and temper our rebellious hearts before the unspeakable mystery of Your compassion, for we ask this in Your holy name. Amen.

“Maundy,” the unusual adjective descriptive of this day, comes from the Latin mandatum, meaning “commandment,” because this is the day on which the Lord gave the “new commandment” that we are to love one another. On this day He exemplified this love by washing the disciples’ feet and also instituted the Lord’s Supper, in which all of us who share the one bread are made one body in Christ.

In many Christian bodies, following a tradition that apparently goes back to apostolic times, believers are disposed and inspired to spend at least an hour of this night, and in some cases the whole night, in prayer, remembering that Jesus Himself did so and likewise encouraged His disciples to “watch” with Him. In some monastic communities, this is a public liturgical service, and in some Roman Catholic and Anglican parishes the night is hourly divided among members to make sure that prayer is being offered in church all night long. Many other Christians keep such watch in their own homes.

March 20

Matthew 26:17-56: We come now to Holy Thursday and the evening of the Last Supper. The traditions behind the four gospels attach several stories to the narrative of the Last Supper. These include the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples, a saying of Jesus relative to His coming betrayal, a prophecy of Peter’s threefold denial, various exhortations and admonitions by Jesus, and a description of the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

There are considerable differences among the four evangelists with respect to their inclusion of these components. Thus, only John describes the foot-washing, though Luke 22:24-30 includes a dominical admonition which would readily fit such a context. With respect to the actual teachings and exhortations of Jesus during the supper, John’s account is by far the longest, stretching over several chapters.

Only two of the stories are told in all four gospels. First, there is some reference by Jesus to His betrayal. In Matthew and Mark this comes before the institution of the Holy Eucharist; in Luke it comes afterwards, in John it immediately follows the foot-washing. Only in Matthew and John is Judas actually identified by Jesus. Luke and John ascribe the betrayal to the influence of Satan.

Second, all four gospels include a prophecy of Peter’s threefold denial. All of them, likewise, narrate the fulfillment of that prophecy.

The Church chiefly remembers the Last Supper, however, as the occasion of the instituting of the Holy Eucharist, and it seems a point of irony that this story does not appear in John. Perhaps he felt that this important subject had been adequately treated in the Bread of Life discourse in chapter 6.

To the three Synoptic accounts of the Holy Eucharist we must add that in 1 Corinthians 11, which is at least a decade older than the earliest of the four gospels. Indeed, this narrative recorded by St. Paul links the institution of the Eucharist explicitly to the betrayal by Judas: “I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread . . .” This text provides clear evidence that the traditional narrative contained in the Eucharistic prayer, as it was already known to Paul when he founded the Corinthian church about A.D. 50, made mention of Judas’s betrayal. That same formula or its equivalent–“on the night He was betrayed”–is found in both the liturgies of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom.

The Church’s testimony on this point is remarkable. It is as though some deep impulse discourages Christians from celebrating the Holy Communion without some reference to the betrayal by Judas. This reference serves to remind Christians of the terrible judgment that surrounds the Mystery of the Altar: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).

Lord’s Supper

Continue reading Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper & The Agony in the Garden

The New Perspective on Paul and the Historical Jesus Quest

Scot McKnight, over at his Jesus Creed blog, has recently posted several entries summarizing and clearly explaining the history and claims of both the New Perspective on Paul and the Historical Jesus Quest.

I encourage everyone interested in getting a better grasp on what these things are all about to read these entries in full. Here they are:

New Perspective 1
New Perspective 2
New Perspective 3
New Perspective 4
New Perspective 5

Here is a PDF version of all five blog entries on the NPP.

Historical Jesus 1: Reimarus to Schweitzer
Historical Jesus 2: Bultmann to the Jesus Seminar
Historical Jesus 3: Jesus Seminar
Historical Jesus 4: Third Quest
Historical Jesus 5: Summing Up

To supplement the above reading I would also recommend the following articles:

What Did Paul Really Mean? by Simon Gathercole
Further Reading on the New Perspective by Simon Gathercole
What Did Simon Gathercole — and Moses — Really Mean? by Andrew Sandlin

Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Bultmann
Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Jesus Seminar
Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Third Quest and Summing Up

20/20 & The Nativity Story

I’m watching 20/20 right now on ABC television. They were interviewing several scholars about the nativity of Jesus in the Gospels. I would first like to mention that Darrell Bock was one of those scholars interviewed. He did a great job, from the short clips they chose to show of him, defending the historical narratives of Matthew and Luke regarding the virgin birth and surrounding events.

But what struck me was one of the last statements made by the scholar ABC chose to end the segment on Jesus with… he basically said that the Gospels are beautiful poetry about the ‘meaning’ of Jesus and followed it by asking the question – isn’t that even better than some historical set of events taking place in the past?

Well? Isn’t it? Come on, Dude!

Okay, none of this surprises me. Especially the fact that 20/20 ended the segments with that scholar and a woman scholar saying that truth to ancient people, back in those days, was much different than our modern, scientific demands for empirically tested data that proves something to be true beyond doubt.

I simply cannot shake my head enough at these scholars who think that the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth are merely beautiful poetry. So here are two things that I noticed…

1) These scholars who took that position, contra Dr. Bock, have assumed that modernity’s demand for empirical evidence proves the Gospel accounts cannot be historically accurate. They have also, even further, assumed that truth has nothing to do with history. Now, I’m not going to try to explain what they believe truth is. For that answer you will have to ask them yourselves. But what I will say is found in observation two…

2) Why would we prefer beautiful, non-historical poetry over and against beautiful, historical poetry and records??? I mean seriously folks! How can any of us, who think about what the New Testament says – with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus – want it to all be poetry??? Do any of us want this life to be IT? Do you want to die and cease to exist? Do you really not want to live forever? Even further, since the New Testament -especially the Gospels – tell us that Jesus’ death and resurrection are the start of God’s new creation and the beginning of His putting all things to rights, why would any of us want to think that death, war, hunger, poverty, terrorism, etc. are all going to continue to go on for the rest of time with no hope of change??? Do you really want to believe that? Now, I’m sure there are some people out there who believe that man is powerful enough to change all this and that one day we will discover a cure to live for much longer or even live forever and that we don’t need God or any other ‘deity’ to help us… I’m sure some people think like that. But why?

Why does anyone have hope that mankind can change things by themselves? What is HOPE anyway? Do we have some crystal ball that tells us we are going to accomplish these things on our own? Are we really humanistic prophets that can make things happen because we say they will one day happen? Absolutely NOT!

Paul wrote to the Roman Christians and said the following about hope and about what Jesus accomplished for all those who believe in His Gospel and are faithful to His teachings:

Romans 8:18-25: “18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

This is God’s promise, that He will put the creation back into order. God has promised that He will reverse all the death and destruction and will one day turn the universe over into the hands of His children for their everlasting enjoyment of it!

Where is there hope if we see the Gospels as “beautiful poetry”??? All I hear this man saying is, “There is no God… nanna, nanna, boo boo!” And who wants to hear that? I know I don’t. =)

Well, to end this rant, I would like to say that 20/20 is doing the only thing that it knows. America likes to see things questioned. We like to know that others cannot tell us what to believe or how to live our lives or raise our children or anything that would ‘take away our rights.’ But isn’t that exactly what is happening? Haven’t we all been told to question everything and to believe what we want? Isn’t America simply following what scholars and other people in influential power have told them to believe and accept as ‘the way it should be’ in order to ‘really’ be free and happy?

On the contrary, the God of creation has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus. He has acted IN HISTORY and continues to act in history through His Church. He has been in the process of making all things new and setting the world to rights since the resurrection of His Son from the dead! And God has continued that process by sending His Spirit to live inside the bodies of His people, who are His Church, and has filled the earth with the knowledge of His greatness and love more and more each day!

This is not poetry. This is not wishful thinking. These things are history. They are the things that are happening every day of our lives. We are part of this great STORY, but this story is real – it is REALITY and HISTORY. And if we believe this and believe that Jesus really did rise from the dead, then we can have hope and joy in knowing that God is changing this world and will one day judge the world by the Man, Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul said this about that event that will one day take place:

Romans 2:6-10: “6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.”

It is only those who have been united to Jesus Christ that will obey the truth and seek for glory, honor, and immortality. And all this is only possible because God has given His Spirit to His Church in order that it will fulfill the righteous requirement of the law through faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. Everyone would do well to either embrace this Good News, or, according to some scholars, simply believe that the Gospels are beautiful poetry so that we can all ignore God and ‘hope’ that when we die nothing will meet us but non-existence.

Therefore, I urge you to remember the nativity of Jesus Christ this Christmas season. Remember that He came to rescue the world by dying and rising again for the justification of all those who believe in His name and are faithful to His teachings with the help of His Spirit within them.

May God be glorified in all things and in all the nations of the world! To Jesus Christ be honor and praise and fame for ever and ever! Amen!

In Christ and In Defense of the Faith,