Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Matthew 14-16): Just wondering if there is any significance to the amount Judas was paid? And, any idea what the name “Judas Iscariot” means?
A. Yes and yes. There is a cruel significance to the price they paid Judas: it is the legal price of a slave. Judas has sold Jesus’ life into the hands of these men.
Judas was a very common Jewish name, the name Judah in the OT (which means “Praised” or “God be Praised” in Hebrew). If you read the NT, you will see several names similar to Judas (notably Jude) which are actually the same name, but the authors and translators usually make some effort to distinguish between the character of Judas and Jude, another of Jesus’ lesser known disciples (also called Thaddeus), and Jesus’ half brother who wrote the Epistle of Jude. The meaning of Judas’ last name is less clear: it might indicate his hometown, or also possibly that he was a member of a group of zealots who carried daggers for assassination (read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicarii). The name “Sicarii” literally means “dagger man”. Some scholars think that the Sicarii did not exist until several decades after this story, so take that information with a grain of salt.
Q. (Luke 22:3-6): I noticed that in Luke’s version of this story that the text says that Satan entered Judas. I assume Judas allowed him to enter. I don’t think there is a way to know this answer. But, this helped the OT prophecies come true. I would think that Judas would have free will to push Satan away.
A. I think either way is a possibility, but I leave it to you to decide.
Q. (John 13:1-17): There are so many things going on in this passage. Jesus is washing the disciples feet. Rob, can you tell us the significance of this? What does v. 10 mean? Then, related to that is Jesus empowering the disciples by talking about how he is no better than them. And then, He says God will bless them.
A. Foot washing was a very menial task, usually reserved for a slave (don’t forget the significance of the price Judas got for Jesus’ life — the significance would surely not have been lost on the original readers). It was not a task that a rabbi or important leader would EVER have done voluntarily. So Jesus is giving His followers an incredible lesson in humility and seeing others as more important than yourself. That is the major significance to the foot washing. As to verse 10, Jesus is using a washing metaphor: His disciples have been washed of their sins by their faith in who Jesus is (i.e. they are clean- except for Judas). So when Peter asks for Jesus to wash him, Jesus is telling Peter metaphorically that He has already washed Peter. He only needs to have his feet washed because he is already clean.
Q. (Mark 14:17-26): Vs. 20-21 talk about what Judas will face for betraying Jesus. We’ll talk more about that later, right? This is the scene that started communion in the church, which I have a couple questions about. First, does it matter how often churches offer communion? The church I grew up in had it every Sunday, which I loved. It was a quiet time during the service to talk to God. The church said that there was a verse, which we should come to quickly that states Jesus saying something like, “whenever you gather, do this (communion) in remembrance of me.” Maybe I have the verse wrong. But I find that most Protestant churches only offer it once a month. And, tagging on to that, don’t the Catholics say the bread and the wine actually turn to the blood and flesh of Christ?
A. Jesus uses strong language to describe Judas’ betrayal in saying, for example, that it would be better if he had never been born. That, to me, implies damnation for his actions — and actions still to come — but there is nowhere in the Bible that it explicitly says Judas is in hell for betraying Jesus.
We have read most of the versions of the NT Communion/Eucharist liturgy (another one will appear in one of Paul’s letters), so what you see is what you get. Some Churches, notably most Protestants [Anglicans/Episcopalians excluded], do not necessarily interpret Jesus’ words literally in saying “every single time you gather the Church body, you take Communion,” and there are reasons for this, not the least of which is a concern, frankly, about boredom and losing meaning in mindless ritual. I leave it to you to decide if that is good reason or not.
Roman Catholics have an official doctrine called Transubstantiation, which describes the transformation of the wine and bread/wafer thing into the literal body and blood of Jesus — though the transformation is invisible. There’s a long history to this doctrine, which is one of the reasons that Protestants like Martin Luther decided to leave the Church 500 years ago, but there’s not much point in rehashing that. I will simply point out that the development of the doctrine of Transubstantiation comes from the Middle Ages, not the ancient Church, and that it is exclusively a Roman Catholic doctrine. Other non-Protestant branches of the Church such as the Orthodox Church accept some form of what they call the “mystery” of Communion, but only the R/C Church goes all the way in proclaiming this doctrine.
Q. (Matthew 26:28): What is Jesus referring to when he says, “for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people.” And, what is v. 29’s meaning?
A. Remember our covenant ceremonies in Genesis and Exodus with Abraham and Moses/the Israelites and Sinai? Both of those ceremonies had the covenant sealed in the blood of an animal. Jesus is saying that this new covenant that He is establishing is sealed not in an animal’s blood, but in His own.
I don’t have a good explanation for verse 29. It is a mystery. Sorry.
Q. (Luke 22:30): Jesus has just granted the disciples the power to make judgment on Judgment Day? And, then he says they will judge the 12 tribes of Israel. This sounds like OT Israel. I guess Jesus is judging the rest of us?
A. Don’t forget our story of the Sheep and Goats: the King, Jesus, judges all, or at least most. I am frankly unsure what Jesus is describing here.
Q. (John 13:18-30): It’s almost like Jesus and Satan are working together here. But, I take it that Satan is not privy to what Jesus is willing to do for our sins? Satan must just think that he is helping Jesus get arrested. Satan may think that he has triumphed here by getting Jesus imprisoned so that He won’t be able to win more people over to the Kingdom?
A. Your question pushes up against the spiritual realm, and it is frankly impossible to say what is motivating Satan. Perhaps he desires to strike at God and this is his best chance, perhaps he believes that by killing Jesus, he will gain victory, or perhaps he is just acting out his role as a murderer (John 8:44). There is simply no way to tell, but I will mention that the various accounts of what we call the Atonement (basically, what “transaction” takes place in Jesus’ death on the cross) are based largely upon an understanding of Satan’s role as the current ruler of this world.