Monday, July 31, 2017

All ScriptureIn Matthew 8:28, two men are possessed by demons in the country of Gadarenes (KJV).  However, in Mark 5 and Luke 8, only one is mentioned.  Most seem to prefer Mark and Luke’s account rather than Matthew’s.  Inspired writers sometimes focused on a narrower view than another due to the audience being addressed.  Matthew simply gives us a fuller picture.  Using Mark or Luke’s account isn’t taking away from what Matthew records, unless one teaches that Matthew was correct and Mark and Luke were in error!  It would also be wrong to teach that two writers negate Matthew’s account because two outweighs one.  If that thinking is true, then the majority always invalidates the smaller number!

We have another biblical case similar to the Matthew vs Mark and Luke account.  This time an activity is mention by three writers, but a fourth adds something they did not  mention.  So, is it a three against one scenario?  If so, what do we do with the “one”?  Why did the Holy Spirit inspire the one to add something, but inspired the other three to leave it out?  Since the three didn’t add it, does that mean we are authorized to reject the fourth writer’s material?  Doesn’t three trump one?  What is this three to one subject?  It is Luke’s account of the Lord’s supper which contains more information than Matthew, Mark, or Paul.  Paul offers the shortest amount of dialogue from Jesus.  All but Paul introduce the Passover meal as the setting for this event.  According to Jewish history in Jesus time, four cups of wine were consumed by participants during that meal.  Each person brought his personal cup.  Wine was poured into each cup following the consumption of the one before.  Luke covers the last two.  The others deal only with the last of the four Passover cups.

Luke’s first cup is the third cup of the Passover meal.  Before it is consumed by those at the table, he states to the apostles,

Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:15-18 NKJV).

This is followed by the serving of the bread.  Then Jesus takes the number four Passover cup and refers to its contents as his blood.

Notice Matthew and Mark’s statements which are parallel with Luke’s.  In Luke’s account, the statement is made by Jesus before the bread is offered.  In Matthew and Mark, it is made after the fourth cup, which is the second or last one mentioned by Luke.  All three mention the same statement, but Matthew and Mark place that statement after the Passover’s fourth cup whereas Luke has it after the third such cup.

But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom(Matthew 26:29 NKJV).

Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God(Mark 14:25 KJV).

Luke has two cups involved, whereas Matthew, Mark, and Paul only have one.  Luke has a specific statement by Jesus after the first cup and before the bread is served.  Paul does not mention the statement.  Matthew and Mark have that statement after the only cup they refer to, which puts it after the bread has already been served.  Is this a contradiction?

Is Luke giving the full picture, as Matthew 8 does in showing two men were among the tombs in chapter eight?  Mark and Luke only speak of one.  In Luke 22 he is giving the full story with two cups being introduced, whereas Matthew 26, Mark 14, and 1 Corinthians 11 give the reader the shorter version?

Why would the Holy Spirit inspire different men and have them to record different circumstances?  He inspired Matthew, Mark, and Paul to refer to Jesus using only one cup.  He inspires Luke to tell us about two.  He inspired Matthew, Mark, and Luke giving them Jesus’ words on not drinking that cup again until . . .!  Yet, two of the three are inspired to put that statement with a later cup!  God does not contradict Himself.  So, why the difference?  Perhaps there is a cultural understanding on this subject as there is on the subject of two or one among the tombs of Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8.  If we understand that difference, there is no problem.

It is interesting that the expression “he took the cup” is found in Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23, and 1 Corinthians 11:25 representing his blood.  The word “cup” may also have reference, not to the vessel, but to the fruit of the vine contained in it!  Notice these passages with that understanding.

And he took the fruit of the vine, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins(Matthew 26:27-28 KJV).

And he took the fruit of the vine, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.  And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many(Mark 14:23-24 KJV).

After the same manner, also he took the fruit of the vine, when he had supped, saying, This fruit of the vine is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me(1 Corinthians 11:25 KJV).

In Matthew’s account Jesus commands all of them to drink from that cup.  Some believe that one container must be used to serve the communion.  However, each person brought their personal container to the Passover feast.  Matthew is referring to what was in Jesus cup which they were all to partake of, but from their own personal cups.  The emphasis is not upon a drinking vessel, but what is in that vessel.  Look at Luke’s statement using that phrase rather than the word “cup.”

And he took the fruit of the vine, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. Luke 22:17-18 (KJV)  . . .   Likewise also the fruit of the vine after supper, saying, This fruit of the vine is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you(Luke 22:20 KJV).

Rather than two containers being used as part of the Lord’s supper, the quote is moved and applied to the Lord’s supper or one partaking.  It may be that Jesus used that same statement with Passover cup three and also four.  Luke records it used before the bread with that consumption, whereas the other three record Jesus’ second use after the fourth Passover cup.

Would it be wrong if a congregation decided to follow Luke’s outline and have the fruit of the vine with the 22:18 statement, then the bread, and finally the fruit of the vine to represent the remission of our sins?  Perhaps it’s in the same category as to whether one preaches about one or two men among the tombs!  After all, the Holy Spirit inspired it and God must only say something once for it to be so.