This is a seemingly simple segment. It is merely a bridge from the verdict to the cross. That may be but what an important, foundational event it was. It is clear from a glance at the parallel columns that Luke’s account is quite different from the others, especially the other synoptic writers. Just look at the amount of green that can be seen. That should tell you something. Note the similarities between Matthew and Mark; they stick pretty much to the standard version. As I have told you before, I believe that to be the traditional oral package. But Luke adds significantly different material here. Where does he get it from? Luke didn’t join “the merry band” until his practice of accompanying Paul on his journeys in the book of Acts. So where does he get this extra material from? He told us in the beginning that he has investigated the other reports in his attempt to give us an orderly account. From that we can assume he knows Mark’s version for sure and I suspect Matthew’s too. Many experts feel that Luke got a lot of his information from Peter; that Peter was his main source. I suspect it was more wide-spread than that. He clearly interviewed Peter, Mary, John Mark, Paul and many others. From these sources he adds these little Lukan touches that are filled with meaning.
Did you notice significant things about this segment when you first read it? Where the other writers move the action forward quickly, Luke pauses to pick up this little touch about the women on the way to the cross. In fact in Matthew’s, Mark’s and John’s accounts, they mix in comments about the close of the trial activities and add a little touch related to reaching the place of the Cross. Luke has already made comment about the “purple robe”, but he referred to it as royal or elegant clothes and he had told us of the verdict handed down by Pilate. Luke concentrates on what happened on the way, whereas the others deal with what happened at the end of the trial and then pick up on the offer of a drugged drink to help at the cross. This makes their material related to what happened on the way to cross very short indeed. They are more interested in getting us to the foot of the cross as soon as possible. Luke on the other hand has something else of importance to tell us.This is why it is so important to compare the accounts to see where the emphasis lies. Luke’s is the longest version of this event while John’s is the shortest. Matthew and Mark are more identical with just little touches of their own material.
At least from the other two synoptic writers we learn the tormentors finally tired of tormenting Jesus and we learn they removed Herod Antipas’ old set of purple robes and placed Jesus’ clothes back on Him again. It would not have been right to leave Him dressed as King now would it? No, the King thing was only a joke, not for the crowds to take it seriously when seeing Him dressed in purple. I have also stuck with Robertson’s division of this segment in his Harmony, even though I would close this segment in Luke at 23:31 and move the following two verses to the next segment of the scene at the cross.
Luke is more interested in what Jesus said at this point along the way. Oh, there are some snippets of interesting things before that but Luke’s focus is the reaction of Jesus to the women’s wailing.
Did you pick on some of the other little details though, in your first scan through the material and comparison with the other writers?
- Did you ask yourself some questions?
- Why the emphasis on Simon of Cyrene coming into the city while Jesus was going out?
- Who is Simon of Cyrene and where is Cyrene?
- Why is it so important?
- Why do the soldiers force Simon to carry the cross?
- Did Simon carry the cross or did Jesus carry it Himself?
- Who carried it and what did they carry?
- Who are these women and why does Jesus address just the women and why the comments that He makes?
- Is there anything in this segment that you don’t understand? Is there anything that confuses you?
- It all seems rather obtuse and poetic.
In the next Gems I will focus on Luke’s differences before we come to the interaction between Jesus and the women. Then following that, we will start analysing the Daughters of Jerusalem section, with mountains and hills falling and people begging for it to happen, while children in wombs and at the breast are in danger and childless women are blessed. All rather odd you have to admit, all rather dry and not at all green. Interesting or odd? What do you think?
Puzzles were given to be solved not to be avoided.Ian Vail
When the Bible gets obtuse there is normally a reason and a nugget to be found – an object to use.Ian Vail
So dig! Don’t give up and walk away crying because it’s too hard. You are made of tougher stuff than that.Ian Vail
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Are you a man or a mouse, a woman or a wimp?Ian Vail