Our studies this week are fraught with peril. (Cue the dramatic music.)
Oh, yes, we tackle some difficult subjects here on the study blog.
But this one is surrounded by controversy. The peril is that we will allow ourselves to be pulled into some chases down rabbit trails. You know what I mean. Sometimes we can get distracted by a side issue, instead of focusing on the "main thing."
This week we will study an incident that is recorded in all four gospels. That in itself makes it a little extraordinary . . . some stories are only mentioned in one or even two of the gospel accounts in our New Testament. For this to appear in all four is remarkable.
Scholars tell us that the gospels were written by four different people. Their choice of words, their focus audience, and even the happenings that they chose to include were all very different. That makes sense, no? Matthew was a Jewish man, and he wrote his gospel to "persuade" his people -- Luke was a Greek, and a physician, so his gospel of Christ's life is different in many ways from Matthew's account.
Well, as someone dear to me always encourages me to do, I'm going to "cut to the chase" here and we'll peruse the four accounts . . . (hang in there, I know this is going to be lengthy, but we are studying God's Word, and our investment in time and attention will be good for us, don't ya know?)
Here it is in Matthew 26:
Here is Mark's telling of the story:
Luke's gospel (chapter 7) includes a parable from Jesus:
And finally, John's account of an incident:
Alrighty. We can see there are some differences here, and some similarities. The woman is named; the woman isn't named. The response is from all the disciples, or it's from Judas, or it's not even voiced - just the thoughts of a Pharisee. This happened in Bethany, or it happened elsewhere. Even the timing of the event along the span of Christ's ministry has been debated.
No rabbit trails for us, though. You with me, here? I think that we can learn much from this story, even without pinning down the who, what, where, when, and why . . .
Join me next time, won't you?
(And yes, I will divulge my humble opinion. I find myself agreeing with the commentators who use the clues to say perhaps this was two separate but similar incidents. But I think the important things to learn here have little to do with my opinion!)