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Arthur Just on Quinquagesima Gospel

by ToddPeperkorn ~ February 21st, 2009

From the Concordia Commentary volume on Luke 18:31-43:

As in the other synoptic gospels, this third prediction is addressed to the Twelve. The secret of Jesus’ passion is for the Twelve alone until after the resurrection. The crowds are not privy to the three predictions of Jesus’ destiny in Jerusalem. Luke heightens the messianic passion secret (as compared to Mark’s messianic secret).3? The passion is the stumbling block to the faith of the Twelve that will only be reversed by the resurrection, after which the passion will be the main article of faith in Jesus. Jesus alerts his disciples to the significance of his final prediction with “behold” (????) and the added information that “we are going up to Jerusalem” (18:31). The effect is to combine a travel notice (cf. 13:22; 17:11; 19:28) with a passion prediction, as Jesus did at the beginning of the journey narrative (9:51). Luke is the only synoptic evangelist to include the phrase “there will be accomplished [????????????] all the things that have been written through the prophets about the Son of Man.” Luke has used ?????, “to complete, fulfill,” for fulfillment at 2:39; 12:50; and it will also occur in Jesus’ final citation of Scripture at 22:37, where he quotes Is 53:12 (cf. also Acts 13:29). Luke also uses ???????, “to bring to completion, accomplish, fulfill,” with a similar meaning at Lk 2:43 and 13:32. As Jesus draws near to Jerusalem, the sense of imminent fulfillment is heightened and the climax anticipated.

Jesus speaks of his betrayal or deliverance (?????????????) to the Gentiles (18:32). As in the second passion prediction, the passive voice is again used for Christ’s “passive obedience.” “Gentiles” suggests the involvement of Pilate and the Roman authorities. This is a direct reference to the trials of Jesus and the charges that will be evaluated by Pilate in connection with Jesus’ arrest. (Only Luke records two trials before Pilate.) The relationship between Pilate, Herod, and the Jewish religious leaders will be significant in determining the charges against Jesus. Following this general reference to the passion is an expanded description of the passion and death (as in Mark but not in Matthew): “And he will be mocked and mistreated and spit on, and after scourging, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise” (18:32–33). The repeated use of ???, “and,” gives this list an almost liturgical rhythm, a recitation of each brutal detail in the litany of Jesus’ suffering. The observant hearer will note the curious fact that Luke 22–23 does not record two of these details: “spit on” and “scourging.” Their fulfillment may be gleaned from the other gospels.

There is a unique Lukan touch to this third passion prediction, which has great significance for the gospel. Only Luke adds here “all the things that have been written [????? ?? ??????????] through the prophets” (18:31). This shows his interest in demonstrating that the passion and resurrection were in fulfillment of the Scriptures. That Jesus’ death and resurrection are the fulfillment of the Scriptures will be a significant part of the development of the kerygma in Luke 24, particularly as Jesus chastises the Emmaus disciples for not believing the Scriptures (24:25) and then opens up for them all the Scriptures concerning how the Christ must suffer and then enter into glory (24:26–27). In his final commission to the disciples, Jesus also opens their minds to understand the Scriptures and then shows how the Scriptures have been fulfilled with respect to his passion, death, and resurrection (24:44–49). Preaching on God’s plan of salvation in Jesus—in fulfillment of the Scriptures—will be central to the preaching of the Gospel by the apostles in Acts.a? In the passion narrative, the psalms will figure prominently as Luke highlights that Jesus is the suffering righteous Messiah whom the Father has sent and whom the Father will vindicate by raising him from the dead in fulfillment of the Scriptures (see the excursus “The OT Witness to Christ”).

Finally, Luke expands this report of the disciples’ reaction and so reinforces the hearer’s repeated frustration at the disciples’ inability to grasp what is happening to Jesus. Luke is the only synoptic evangelist to include the reaction of the disciples to this third passion prediction: “And they did not understand any of these things, and this word [?? ???? ?????] was hidden from them, and they did not know the things that were spoken” (18:34).5? The reaction here is almost exactly the same as the reaction of the disciples at his second passion prediction in Galilee (9:45), for it too contains a three-part response. The first phrase simply states that they did not understand. The second part includes both ?? ????, “the word” (the same expression for the passion as in the Galilean prediction), and the theological passive implying God’s active role in hiding the significance of the passion from them. The major difference lies in the third part. Instead of speaking of fear (9:45), this pericope tells of a lack of knowledge of “the things that were spoken” (Luke uses the neuter plural “things” for the passion facts). The verb “to know”or “grasp the meaning,” ???????, is one of the evangelist’s synonyms for faith, as in the prologue: “that you come to recognize [???????] completely the reliability concerning the words by which you have been catechized” (1:4). When someone in the gospel finally understands the passion facts, their eyes are opened and they know Jesus (24:31). In the moment of recognition by the Emmaus disciples, the theological passive is used to indicate that their eyes were opened by God.
Therefore, all three passion predictions include the idea of God concealing and the disciples’ inability to comprehend the plan of salvation.6? In their misunderstanding, the disciples reject Jesus and fulfill the second phase of Luke’s prophet Christology: that the Messiah will be rejected by his own people (see the excursus “Luke’s Prophet Christology”). Misunderstanding and rejection are major themes in Luke 24; thus, this third and final passion prediction prepares the hearer for Luke 24, where the disciples will finally understand the plan of salvation when the risen Christ opens the Scriptures to them and explains his death and resurrection in fulfillment of the Scriptures. In Acts, they will be the leaders of the church.

The themes of the resurrection as the vindication of the crucifixion and the fulfillment of the Scriptures as the accomplishment of the divine plan are developed in Luke’s gospel in anticipation of their climax in Luke 24. In that final chapter of the gospel, the stage is set for Acts and the acceptance of Christianity by both Jews and Gentiles. Luke 24 is the final affirmation that “all the things that have been written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning [Jesus]” (24:44) have been fulfilled and that Jesus has completed the journey of the prophet, who after suffering, is vindicated by God. Therefore, in this passion and resurrection prediction, Jesus reveals this, but God keeps it hidden from the disciples until after it is actually accomplished.

1 Response to Arthur Just on Quinquagesima Gospel

  1. ToddPeperkorn

    Sorry about all the question marks. The greek text doesn’t seem to speak well with unicode.

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