OMG we finally made it to the New Testament!!! I never thought this would happen. And it only took 500 years. I have really flown right through this thing, haven’t I?
We begin the New T with the Gospel of Matthew, and we discover quickly that the New T really wastes no time jumping right into this story and all these new concepts. Last we saw God’s chosen ones, they had rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem and were already starting to misbehave yet again. We then pick up in the New T a good 450-ish years later and suddenly we’ve got some dude named John the Baptist wandering around baptizing people and … wait – what the hell does “baptize” mean? Did they even do that in the Old Testament? O.k. I just checked – it seems that baptism-like acts were performed a few times in the OT, but they didn’t use this term. An example is this passage from Leviticus: “8:5 Moses said to the assembly, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded to be done.’ 8:6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water.” But the Bible really hasn’t yet given an explanation of why it’s being done or what it has evolved into in terms of ritual and meaning by the time it shows up at the start of the New T. Is it weird that baptism is apparently a Christian ritual that happens without ever being defined by the Bible itself?
That’s not all we zip past here: Matthew dives head first right into the Mary and Joseph situation, Mary’s immaculate conception, and Jesus being born, This all happens in chapter 1, and the entire story is told in literally 7 verses. There’s nothing here about Mary and Joseph looking for a place to take them in that fateful night and being turned away (“No room at the inn!”) and then finding the stable, or Jesus in the manger, or any of that. I’m assuming that will be described in Mark or Luke or something. We do quickly breeze through the wise men with the gold, frankincense and myrrh in chapter 2. That’s where we get into King Herod being mad and jealous of Jesus and trying to kill him. So God appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to take the fam and escape to Egypt until King Herod dies. By the end of chapter 2, Herod has already died and Joseph Mary and Jesus have gone back to Israel, to Nazareth. That was quick.
Matthew may be a relatively long book at 28 chapters, but on the bright side, one could never accuse it of being slow or boring. The downside of this, though, is that it’s extremely challenging to write a blog post covering a book that is so densely packed with basically all the most important plot points in Christianity. Not since Genesis and Exodus have I felt quite this overwhelmed at the sheer number of essential Bible stories I’ve just blazed through and now have to write about in one blog post. I’m sure I’ll run across a ton more stories that I haven’t even thought of yet in future books, but Matthew tells the entire story of Jesus from birth to death to resurrection just in this one book. I assume that Mark Luke and John will probably re-tell the same story from different points of view, adding some different details, similar to how the prophet books were laid out in the OT. We’ll see. For now, I’m going to make an attempt at giving a Matthew plot synopsis at a very high level.
Actually, in writing this, I’ve decided to split Matthew into two blog posts: One to give the recap and one to give my analysis. Even with keeping this at a high level, there’s just still an immense amount of plot to cover here. My hope with this is that my future blog posts will be a tiny bit easier since they will likely be re-covering similar story territory, so in theory I should only have to get this deep on basic plot points once. Given my experience with the OT this is certainly a pipe dream, since every book has its own weird points of view and quirks. But I’m going to try this anyway. Let’s see how it goes. If you’re reading this and you already know everything about the book of Matthew, feel free to skip to my analysis post (link to come).
Matthew starts out by listing Jesus’ genealogy. Which is weird, because Jesus isn’t a regular human with a regular dad, which means that the lineage listed here is really Joseph’s lineage. Joseph is not Jesus’ biological father. The writer clearly wants to prove Jesus is a descendant of David, I guess to prove this prophecy from 2 Samuel 7:12-13, but he’s really not – Joseph is. I’m realizing that this supposed prophecy from 2 Samuel was so subtle that I didn’t even think of it as a possible Jesus reference when I originally read and reviewed it. I’m gonna have to go back and update my 2 Samuel review after this.
Anyway so as I covered above, Mary gets knocked up by God in the second half of chapter 1, and Joseph is understandably disturbed wondering how she got pregnant, so he almost divorces her. But then God comes to him in a dream and explains what’s going on, and he gets with the program. They have the baby and name him Jesus. Chapter 2 I mostly described above, with the wise men, jealous King Herod trying to kill all the baby boys in the greater Bethlehem metro area to make sure he takes care of this little pompous brat Jesus, Joseph/Mary/Jesus hiding in Egypt, and then returning to Nazareth after kind Herod dies.
In chapter 3 John the Baptist shows up, and it’s mostly confusing with the sudden baptizing and lack of context or backstory. Wikipedia will give you a lot more background on John the B than the book of Matthew does. John is, uhh, a baptizer. And he baptizes Jesus, who is suddenly an adult by this point. John does this with humility and hesitation, as he knows Jesus is the Messiah, which makes it kind of a chicken vs. egg situation. God then calls down from the heavens and says “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” John also gives what I think is the first description I’ve seen of heaven as “the kingdom of heaven”, sounding much more like the Christian concept of heaven than anything from the OT.
In chapter 4 Jesus is tested in the wilderness by either God or the devil or both. He fasts for 40 days and 40 nights and gets flippin’ hangry, and the devil tries to get Jesus to prove himself by turning stones into bread. Satan also tries to convince Jesus to bow down to him, and Jesus tells him to eff off. “Get thee hence, Satan!” Jesus then finds out John the B has been thrown in prison and then he begins to preach in the land of Capernaum: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!” He calls his first disciples in Galilee: Simon (confusingly also known as Peter) and his brother Andrew, and then he starts going around healing sick people in Galilee. He becomes famous all across the region and even through Syria, and a ton of people start following him and bringing their sick family to be healed.
In chapter 5 Jesus goes onto a mountainside and begins preaching a little something called the Sermon on the Mount. Sound familiar? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” … “blessed are the meek,” etc. I’ll get to more on these famous verses in my analysis. Jesus then gives some revisions on some of the key commandments of the Old T concerning murder, divorce, oaths, adultery, loving your neighbor, and the classic “eye for an eye” rule: “Ehh, you know what guys, the whole ‘eye for an eye’ thing turned out to be … not … great. You should instead turn the other cheek to an evil person.” Ah, the first signs of the PR work in the New T: softening the teachings of the Old T.
Jesus continues his sermon in chapter 6, laying out rules for giving to the needy , fasting, and the right way to pray. This is where he busts out with another classic: The Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …” you know the rest. This also seems to be the first real description of heaven itself, in which Big J tells people not to store up their treasures on earth, but rather to prep for that big party in the sky instead. The sermon continues in chapter 7 as well, with commandments not to judge others, to enter through the narrow gate (which I think means that being a good Christian is not going to be the easy path in life), to watch for false prophets and false disciples, and another familiar one: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
In chapter 8 Jesus comes down from the mountainside and heals a man with leprosy. A man then begs Jesus to heal a sick (male) servant of his, who he seems greatly concerned about to the point where you wonder what their relationship might be. Jesus seems unconcerned with this, though, and obliges. He then also heals Peter’s mom and a bunch of others. He and his disciples then get into a boat, and a storm comes, and Jesus uses his special powers to calm the storm. This chapter ends with a bizarre story about 2 demon-possessed men and a herd of ill-fated pigs: the demons possessing the men tell Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into [that nearby] herd of pigs!”. So Jesus does. The pigs do not fare well. Poor piggies. This encounter apparently freaks everyone out in this town in Gadarenes to the point where they ask Jesus to get the hell out of dodge.
In chapter 9 Jesus goes back to his own town, heals a paralyzed man, and gets accused once again of blaspheming. Well, rather, he reads the minds of some teachers of the law who simply have thoughts that Jesus is blaspheming. Jesus then announces that he has the authority from God to forgive people’s sins. Later, he has dinner with some dude named Matthew (coincidence to the book’s title?) and a bunch of tax collectors, and when questioned on why he’d have dinner with these baddies, Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” and “… I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus then heals several more people, raises a girl from the dead, explains why he and his people don’t fast, goes “through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom,” and heals a bunch more people.
Chapter 10 is where Jesus names his 12 disciples and gives them the authority to “drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” Amusingly, when listing the 12 disciples, the Bible can’t help but jump the gun by calling Judas “Judas Iscariot, who betrayed [Jesus].” Hey thanks for the spoiler warning, dudes. Listed among the disciples is also “Matthew the tax collector”. Hmm. So this is the person this book is named for? Read my analysis post for info on the origins/author of Matthew. Anyway Jesus specifically instructs his disciples to go to the “lost sheep of Israel” and people who need help and healing. He also warns the disciples to be wary, as they will be persecuted for their relation to Jesus. Jesus gives a very peculiar warning in this section that starts with “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth,” which I’ll elaborate on in my analysis.
Chapter 11 brings us back to John the Baptist. Jesus goes back to Galilee, and John, who is still in prison, sends his disciples to ask Jesus if he is really The Dude. Jesus confirms that he is. Jesus tells everyone that John the B is The Greatest: He is a prophet, and “more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'” He then seems to call John the B the second coming of Elijah. Jesus then condemns all the towns who have refused to repent, despite witnessing Jesus’ miracles, to hell. He ends the chapter by referring to God as his Father: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.”
In chapter 12 Jesus disobeys the teachings about picking grain on the Sabbath and tells everyone to stop being so uptight about it, man. He then calls himself the Lord of the Sabbath. Which is, I mean, maybe a little … extra. Meanwhile, the Pharisees start plotting about how they might kill Jesus, so Jesus leaves that town. When Jesus heals a man possessed by demons, the Pharisees say that only by Beelzebub, prince of demons himself, can someone do this. Jesus is like, nah. The Pharisees ask Jesus to show them a sign to prove himself, and he’s like nope, only a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign. He gives a shout-out to Jonah and the successfully reformed town of Nineveh here. Jesus predicts that like Jonah being in the belly of the big fish, Jesus will be “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This chapter ends with Jesus rudely dissing the shit out of his mom and siblings, but I’ll get into that later.
Chapter 13 is where Jesus starts teaching parables. There are a ton of them so I’m not going to describe them here, but I’ll touch on a few notable/strange ones in my analysis. The parables in chapter 13 are about seeds, weeds, hidden treasures, and fishing. After teaching these parables, Jesus goes back to his home town and is met with a bunch of doubters and haters. So he’s like fine, fuck y’alls then, and stops doing miracles there because of their lack of faith.
In chapter 14, King Herod (who seems to be the son of the Herod who died earlier in this book) somehow thinks that Jesus is John the Baptist resurrected. Which makes no sense, because John the B is still alive. This is why Herod throws him in prison. Meanwhile, Herod steals his brother Phillip’s wife, Herodias, because he’s just a wild and fun-loving guy like that. John the B not surprisingly disapproves of this situation, which obviously sews more ill will towards him from Herod and Herodias. On Herod’s birthday, Herodias’ daughter dances for Herod’s bday dinner guests, and he is so enchanted by this lovely dance that he promises to give the girl whatever her heart desires. Her mother then prompts her to make this request: “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist!” Aww!! Kids are so precocious at that age.
Herod is distressed by all this, as these wicked women in the Bible are constantly doing terrible things like this to the poor men. Shame. But he can’t break his oath or disappoint his dinner guests, after all! A promise is a promise. So he has John beheaded, his head put on a platter, and the platter brought in and served to the girl, who then brings it to mummy. I made the bad man(‘s head) fly, mummy! John’s disciples give Jesus the bad news, and Jesus is majorly bummed. He goes by boat to a solitary place to mourn, but then people follow him and he heals their sick, because he’s just cool like that. It eventually starts getting late and the place they’re at is remote, and the people need to eat. “But we only have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish!” his disciples tell him. Guess what happens next? Yeah. You know. Voila! A total of 5,000 people are fed that night.
Jesus then tells his disciples to get in their boat and start heading back out without him, while he dismisses the crowd. Guess how he then gets out to the boat once it’s already way out in the water? Yeah. You know. A little stroll on the water never hurt anyone (not named Jesus Christ). Jesus and co. go to Gennesaret and start healing the sick there. In chapter 15 the Pharisees there ask Jesus why his disciples don’t wash their hands before they eat. Jesus then once again dismisses the teachings of the OT and tells them to lighten up. He says that what comes from a person’s heart and out of their mouth is what matters. The story of the Caananite woman comes after this but I’ll get to that in my analysis, because it’s pretty disturbing. Jesus then goes to Galilee, heals a bunch more sick people, and feeds them all again (4,000 total) from just a few loaves of bread and a few fish.
In chapter 16 the Pharisees and Sadducees act like dicks again and Jesus tells his disciples to be wary of them, using another parable for this with yeast as the metaphor this time. He quizzes Simon Peter on who he (Jesus) really is, and it’s mentioned that Jesus is often confused with John the B, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the other OT prophets. But Peter says “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus is like “Yes, good job buddy!” He tells his disciples not to reveal to anyone that he is the messiah, and he predicts his future death at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law. He also predicts his resurrection. In the last verse he even seems to predict the end of the world: “16:28 Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Chapter 17 starts with flare: Jesus talks to the ghosts of Moses and Elijah up on a mountain in front of Peter, James, and James’ brother John. A bright cloud then covers Jesus/Moses/Elijah and “a voice from the cloud” says, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Wow. What a spectacular show. Jesus tells his disciples not to tell anyone what they just saw until Jesus is raised from the dead. Jesus then confusingly states that Elijah and John the Baptist are the same person, but he might also be kinda referring to John as the second coming of Elijah, which is what he seemed to be doing in chapter 11 earlier. Jesus’ disciples then fail to drive a “demon” out of a boy who has seizures, and Jesus tells them it’s because they lack faith. The chapter ends with Jesus predicting his death again and a silly story about Jesus paying the temple tax by magically generating a coin from a fish’s mouth. He is such a card, that Jesus.
In chapter 18 Jesus declares that “whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” That’s nice! And you better do this, or else you will sorely regret it. More on that in my analysis. Jesus gives some rules about dealing with sin in the church, and then gives a parable about how you should forgive people who sin against you many times over, which is also nice, until he says that if you don’t follow this rule, God will have you tortured as punishment. Gulp.
In chapter 19 Jesus talks more about divorce, saying that despite some loopholes mentioned in the OT, that you are actually not allowed to ever divorce unless your wife commits sexual immorality. A man then asks Jesus what one needs to do to attain eternal life. Jesus says that you simply need to keep the commandments, and he lists them out, but only lists 6 of them (don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t give false testimony, honor your father/mother, and love your neighbor as yourself) and the love your neighbor one is not one of the original 10 from the OT. The man says to him, “I’ve kept all these oaths, what do I still lack?” Jesus gives a veerrryy interesting answer that is quite relevant to our modern times: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” More on that in my analysis. Chapter 19 ends with Jesus telling his disciples that they will be rewarded in heaven for their sacrifice to give up their entire lives to be his disciples on earth.
Chapter 20 starts with a parable about workers in a field all getting paid the same amount for a days’ work regardless of whether they actually worked the entire day. It’s kind of a confusing one with an explanation of “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” I guess maybe the moral is that as long as you sign up to do the work you’ll be good to go, and you shouldn’t be comparing with others about who did more or less or whatever. That’s just my interpretation of it, I’m not entirely sure. Jesus then predicts his death once again before receiving a strange request from a lady who begs Jesus to “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” I think her sons are James on John, two of Jesus’ disciples. When the other 10 disciples hear about this, they are pissed. The story honestly is kind of pointless, but the important part is that it ends with Jesus saying “… whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This seems to be Jesus’ first mention that he will be dying for the people’s sins. Jesus ends the chapter by giving two blind men sight, because he likes to go out with flare.
In chapter 21 Jesus heads to Jerusalem and sends two of his disciples to go get a colt and a donkey from the village ahead of them, and bring them back to Jesus. He says that he’s about to fulfill a prophecy from the OT: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” His disciples do as they are told, and place their cloaks on both the donkey and the colt for Jesus to sit on. How the hell is he gonna ride both of them at once? Isn’t a colt too small for a person to sit on anyway? Will he ride the adult donkey while holding the baby donkey on top of the adult donkey? That could be adorable. If he wanted to convince me to follow him, that would be the way to do it. Anyway, this scene is another famous one from the New T: “21:8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 21:9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!'” Everyone in Jerusalem stirs and whispers amongst themselves about who this flashy fella is, making such a grand entrance into their town declaring himself a prophet of the Lord.
This is the event that Christians celebrate in modern times as Palm Sunday – one week before Easter. Anywho so Jesus rides his li’l donkey-colt right up into that temple and throws a big tizzy over all the commerce being done inside of it. People are selling and buying stuff and money-changing. He’s pissed and he’s flipping tables of money changers and the benches of the people selling doves. They’re not supposed to be using the temple for this b.s.! Jesus says, “It is written, my house will be called a ‘house of prayer’, but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’.” After going ham on the merchants, he then heals a bunch of people at the temple and the chief priests and teachers of the law see all this going down and are like, “Who the eff does this jabroni think he is, honestly!?” They confront him but Jesus is all like whatevs, y’alls are not even worth my time, and he goes to the town of Bethany and spends the night.
Jesus wakes up in the morning and tries to get fruit from a fig tree on the way back to the city, but upon finding out that it’s not fig season, he curses the fig tree to never bear fruit again and the fig tree immediately dies. Uhh, wow. More on this bizarre little outburst in my analysis section. The second half of chapter 21 involves the chief priests and elders questioning Jesus’ authority, Jesus quizzing them using parables, the priests/elders repeatedly giving the wrong answers, and Jesus telling them “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” The priests and elders get super pissed and want to arrest Jesus right then and there, but they are afraid to in case the crowd turns on them. Wussies.
Chapter 22 starts with an extremely effed up parable of a wedding banquet which I’ll talk about in my analysis section. It then moves onto the Pharisees trying to find a way to trap Jesus in his words by asking him whether it’s right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not. Jesus tells them they are hypocrites and says “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” The Pharisees are all like “Hot damn he got us good” and they retreat with their tails between their legs. Then the Sadducees, who apparently don’t believe in heaven, take their turn at bat with a riddle about the teaching of Moses that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him – But what happens with 7 brothers who keep dying one by one and the wife keeps getting passed to each brother down the line? Whose wife is she in heaven? Jesus is like, y’alls are stupid because you don’t know “the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” BOOOOMMM that’s right, how you like me now bitches!?
After Jesus delivers sick burn after sick burn to the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Pharisees try for one last turn at bat. They ask Jesus which is the greatest commandment of the law and he says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Jesus then quizzes the Pharisees on whose son the Messiah is, and they guess “David”. Jesus is then like, “Well then how come David’s ghost calls me ‘Lord’ when he talks to me? Huh?? Explain that!!” And from that day forward, no one dares ask Jesus any more questions, lest they be pwned savagely.
Chapter 23 starts with Jesus telling his followers that they have to follow the law of the land given by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, but they should not do what the law teachers and Pharisees do, cause they are hypocrites. He tells his followers not to go by lofty names like “father” or Rabbi, as God is their Father and Jesus is their instructor. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Jesus then uses a bunch of metaphors to describe why/how the Pharisees are hypocrites, and condemns them to hell. He rails against Jerusalem and how they kill prophets and stone those sent to save them. “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'” That’s right Jesus. If they can’t appreciate you for who you are, they don’t deserve you!
Chapter 24 starts with Jesus giving a prophecy about the destruction of the temple and the signs of the end times: There will be false prophets and Jesus’ followers will be persecuted and put to death for following him. Wickedness will increase and the love of most will grow cold. The one who stands firm in the end will be saved. And really, beware of those false prophets! When the time comes it’s gonna be so cray you won’t even know what hit you: “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” Isn’t that the premise of The Leftovers? I haven’t watched the show so that’s an honest question. In the end, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Jesus will then come down from the clouds of heaven sending his angels with a loud trumpet call. No one knows when that day will come though, so just be ready knowing that at any time it can happen. And you’d better behave in the meantime, or you will be cut into pieces by God when the day comes (I think this means he’ll send you to hell). So watch yourself.
Chapter 25 gives us Jesus telling more parables: A disturbing one about 10 virgins which I’ll talk about in my analysis, a … oh this one is even more effed up – the parable of the bags of gold. I’ll talk about that in my analysis too. Yeesh. Then there’s the parable of the sheep and goats, which is … also a bit disconcerting. “25:31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory [in the kingdom of heaven], and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” The sheep are the lucky ones, trust me. Jesus lets the “sheep” into heaven because they did good things like helping people, being nice to strangers, taking care of the sick, etc. For those who didn’t do this … well they are the goats. To the “goats”, Jesus will say, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” <sweats> <loosens collar>
(Thank you to my husband for reminding me of the existence of this Cake song. I’ve never been a Cake fan but I remember this song and had zero clue what it referred to until now.)
In chapter 26 we get back to moving the plot forward again. Jesus starts by telling his disciples that Passover is in 2 days and that’s when he’ll be handed over to be crucified. Meanwhile, the chief priests are scheming for how they are going to arrest and kill Jesus. “But not during the festival!” they say, “or there may be a riot among the people.” Lmao. Shady mofos. After a short and mostly pointless detour with some guy named Simon the Leper (maybe he’ll be fleshed out in a future book?), we turn to Judas the Jagoff, ever the opportunist, who has already gone straight to the priests asking them how much they’ll give him to turn Jesus over. They hand him 30 pieces of silver and he trots back to Jesus and waits for the opportunity to strike.
Next comes The Last Supper on “the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread”. Jesus and his 12 disciples have a big dinner for Passover. You know the basic story here, but Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray him, and they all take turns freaking out one by one, saying “But not me, right Jesus??” Including Judas, the dirty rat. Jesus breaks bread and gives it to the disciples and says “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then the same with the wine: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” After dinner they go to the Mount of Olives and Jesus tells Peter “Tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny me 3 times.” Peter is like “No effing way dude I would never do that! I don’t care what they threaten me with, I would never let you down bro!!” Sure, Jan.
Jesus and his buddies then go to a place called Gethsemane and Jesus is kinda freaking out because he’s about to be tortured and killed soon. He prays and the disciples are suppose to keep watch in the meantime but they keep falling asleep like useless buffoons.
During this time Judas has apparently snuck away to go get the priests and elders to arrest Jesus. They show up with swords and bats like some sort of old-timey street gang. I guess this is as old-timey as it gets. They arrest Jesus, and one of Jesus’ buddies takes his sword and cuts off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus tells his buddy to put his sword away, as “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” He’s then like, you know, I could stop all you fuckers right now, but I’m not going to, because this is destiny. As he’s arrested, all his disciples run away like little scared babies. Jesus’ captors take him to Caiaphas the high priest and they look for accusers to give them something to charge Jesus with. Two people come up and accuse Jesus of claiming that he could destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days. Caiaphas demands that Jesus tell him if he is the Messiah, and he basically says yes I am, and then the priests have all the evidence they need to charge him with blasphemy. They hit him and spit on him.
Peter, meanwhile, had secretly followed behind Jesus and his captors and is now sitting in the courtyard while this is all going on. A servant girl comes up to him and says “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” “Jesus who, sweetie? Not sure who you mean.” He walks away nervously and then another servant girl catches him and asks the same question. “No I don’t know who you mean! I don’t know any Jesus!” Then the crowd all tells him they know he’s friends with Big J, and he’s like “NO stop I don’t know him!!” Just then a rooster crows, which is exactly what Jesus predicted would happen. Peter then cries like a little cowardly bitch.
Chapter 27 starts with Judas the rat fink, who suddenly gets stricken with guilt. He throws the 30 pieces of silver back at the priests and runs away and hangs himself. Jesus then gets taken in front of the governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate asks him if he’s the “king of the Jews” and he basically says yes. The chief priests and elders then list their charges and Jesus is silent. Pilate apparently has another prisoner in custody as well, and he tells the crowd he’ll release one of them, Jesus or the other guy: Barabbas. Pilate’s wife apparently advises him to release Jesus. But the priests convince the crowd to release Barabbas. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asks. The crowd answers, “Crucify him!” Pilate then tries to make himself feel better by lightly protesting before quickly complying, and says, “O.k. fine I will but this is all on you guys!!” He releases Barabbas and has Jesus flogged.
Next the governor’s soldiers take Jesus to the Praetorium and gather around and mock him and strip his clothes and give him a scarlet robe (I guess like a mock king robe) and a crown made of thorns. They give him a staff and then they all make fun of him (“Hail, king of the Jews!”) and beat him up with the staff. Then they put his regular clothes back on him and lead him away to crucify him. They walk him to a place called Golgotha, “the place of the skull,” and nail him up on the cross with the charge written above his head: “This is Jesus, king of the Jews.” Two other rebels are crucified on either side of him. As he hangs up there people walk by talking smack, like “if you’re the Son of God then get yourself down!” LOL wow this says even the rebels hanging on either side of him talked trash to him too. I don’t remember that part from Sunday school. Savage.
Dark falls over the land from noon to 3pm as Jesus hangs, and then at 3pm J calls out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then, Jesus cries out again and dies. When that happens, it kicks off something else I don’t remember from Sunday school: “27:51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 27:52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 27:53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” Uhh, wow. I don’t remember this zombie party from when I was a kid. Those guarding Jesus see all this and are like “Oh SNAP, he was the son of God!!” Oops.
This is where Mary Magdalene is introduced, though she is given no more context or backstory than John the Baptist was earlier. She’s just, there with the mother of the 2 disciples James and Joseph – she had a brief scene earlier in this book, and she is apparently also named Mary. Mary & Mary and a bunch of other
groupies ladies have followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. One of Jesus’ other disciples asks Pilate for Jesus’ body. He obliges, and they wrap the body in linen cloth and put him in a tomb with a big rock in front of the entrance. Mary & Mary sit outside the tomb. The chief priests and Pharisees have Pilate send a guard to watch the tomb to make sure Jesus doesn’t make good on his promise earlier to rise from the dead and escape.
Finally we are at chapter 28, the final chapter! Here comes zombie Jesus, guys. After the Sabbath, on the first day of the week, Mary & Mary go to look at the tomb. A big earthquake happens and an angel from the Lord comes down, rolls back the rock “door”, and sits on it. The guards are so scared they faint. The angel tells Mary & Mary “Don’t freak out, but Jesus has risen. Look inside and check it out – he’s gone. Go tell his disciples he’s already on his way to Galilee. Chop chop.” Mary & Mary jump with joy and go to tell the disciples. On the way, they run into Jesus and worship him and are super pumped about it all. Jesus tells them to continue on to tell the disciples to go to Galilee.
Meanwhile the chief priests, elders and the guards have a genuine catastrophe on their hands, and need to get into the spin zone, STAT. The priests and elders pay the soldiers off and tell them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers do as they are instructed. Meantime, when the 11 remaining disciples and Jesus get to Galilee, the disciples are all overjoyed and some of them are in disbelief. Jesus tells them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
My god (no pun intended), finally. I have made it. Let’s do our analysis next.
Read my analysis of Matthew here (link to come).