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Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent. The reading is from Gospel of Mathew 20:17-28.

Atonement

The Third Prediction of the Passion – Mathew 20:17-19

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way,

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death,

and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.

Atonement

Atonement is one of the central doctrines of Christian theology. This doctrine emphasizes that the death of Jesus on the cross was a sacrifice that brought about the reconciliation of God and man after their ties were severed since the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

In each of the synoptic gospels, of Mark, Mathew and Luke we read that Jesus told his disciples three times that he will suffer and die:

  • He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (Mark 8:31-32)
  • He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.” (Mark 9:31)
  • They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.”    (Mark 10:32-34)
  • From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. (Mathew 16:21)
  • As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief. (Mathew 17:22-23)
  • He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:22)
  • “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” (Luke 9:44)
  • Then he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon; and after they have scourged him they will kill him, but on the third day he will rise.” (Luke 18:31-33)

The Request of James and John – Matthew 20:20-28

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.

He said to her, “What do you wish?”

She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”

Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

They said to him, “We can.”

He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers.

But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.

But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, had followed Jesus because they wanted to sit on either side of him; and on their behalf their mother intercedes for them and tells Jesus, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”

Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

They said to him, “We can.”

He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

This metaphor of drinking the chalice or drinking the cup, is used in the Old Testament to refer to acceptance of the destiny assigned by God. In the case of Jesus, this involves divine judgment on sin that Jesus the innocent one is to expiate on behalf of the guilty. His baptism is to be his crucifixion and death for the salvation of the human race. So, the request of James and John for a share in the glory must of necessity involve a share in the sufferings of Jesus, the endurance of tribulation and suffering for the gospel.

Here Jesus also tells them that the authority to assign places of honor in the heavenly kingdom is reserved only to God his Father.

Synoptic Gospels

The above narration in Mathew 20:17-23 and passage in Mark 10:32-40 are almost similar.

This is why the gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew are specifically referred to as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many stories that are similar, often in the same sequence, and at times the wordings are exactly the same. The question of how to explain the similarities among the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke is known as the synoptic problem. The term synoptic comes from the Greek syn, meaning “together”, and optic, meaning “seen”.

Majority of scholars claim that Gospel of Mark was written first.

Gospels of Luke and Matthew used Mark as a source, as well as a hypothetical sayings gospel known as the Q source, also known as Q document or Q. It is a hypothetical written source for the Gospel of Matthew and Gospel of Luke. Q (short for the German Quelle, or “source”) is defined as the “common” material found in Matthew and Luke but not in the Gospel of Mark. This ancient text supposedly contained the logia or quotations from Jesus.

Matthew and Luke also included unique material, and the sources for this material are designated M and L, respectively.

Servant of God

In Mathew 20:25 Jesus says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. “

The Gentiles, that Jesus refers to, are the Romans. He tells his disciples not to follow the way of the Romans whose rulers have the tendency to subjugate others.

Jesus continues saying, “…, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

So, a good servant of God is he who comes to set his people free (from sins) and not to control them.

March 7, 2012 is the Wednesday of the Second Week in Lent. The reading is from Gospel of Mathew 20:17-28.

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.

But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

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