Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Tobit 11-12 and Luke 23

Tobit 11 – Raphael and Tobias decide to go ahead of Sarah and the rest so as to greet Tobit and put the “gall” from the fish on his eyes so he will be cured. They do and of course both Tobit and his wife are overjoyed to see their son. Tobias applies the gall and Tobit’s sight is restored. They praise God and go off to the gates of Nineveh to greet Sarah.

Tobit 12 – Tobit tells Tobias they need to reward Azariah [Raphael] for all his help. Tobias thinks half of all they have is not too much. After all, not only did he help recover the money placed in trust, he also cured Sarah and Tobit. When they give their friend this reward he reveals to them that he is, in fact, Raphael, one of the seven angels who serve God. Apparently, the idea of angels came into Judaism from the Persians’ Zoroastrianism. Only three of the seven major angels are mentioned in the Bible – Gabriel, Michael and Raphael.  Raphael tells them to bless and praise God for all the blessings he bestows, to praise him publicly. Praising God and giving alms are what they should do, not hoard gold.

Luke 23 - They bring Jesus to Pilate and accuse him “of perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king” (23:2). Pilate asks him if he is King of the Jews.  Jesus answers, “So you say” (23:3). Pilate finds nothing to charge him with. But they insist that he is nothing but trouble. Pilate asks if Jesus is a Galilean, and when he learns he is, he decides to ship the problem off to Herod, who happens to be in Jerusalem.  Herod is glad to see Jesus.  He had heard about him and been curious about him “for a long time” (23:7). He wants to see Jesus perform some sign.  Jesus does not speak with him. Herod’s soldiers mock him. Luke notes that that day Herod and Pilate, two men who had been enemies previously became friends. Herod sends him back to Pilate.
Pilate wants to have Jesus flogged and released, but the people cry for his crucifixion.  Pilate argues a second time for Jesus’ release, but the crowds keep shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” (23:21) And yet a third time he asks, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death. . .” (23:22). “But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed” (23:23). Pilate give them the man they called for, “one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder” (23:25).
Simon of Cyrene is made to carry Jesus’ cross. Jesus tells the mourning women who follow him to weep for themselves and for their children, for “the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (23:29-31)
There are two other criminals crucified at the place called Golgotha [the skull]. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (34). An NRSV note says that other ancient authorities lack this sentence. They cast lots to divide his clothes.  People mock him, saying he saved others, let him save himself.  There was an inscription—“this is the King of the Jews”—over him (23:38). One of the criminals next to him derides him, but the other confesses Jesus innocence.  Jesus tells him “today you will be with me in Paradise” (23:43).

About noon, the land becomes dark for three hours.  The curtain of the temple is torn in two and Jesus cries “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (23:46). The centurion here says, “Certainly this man was innocent.” He does not say he was the Son of God. All of Jesus’ acquaintances, women included, “stood at a distance, watching these things” (23:49).

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, goes to Pilate and asks for the body of Jesus.  The women see where he is buried but it was the beginning of the Sabbath, so they rest.  

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