restricted access Chapter 16. “Poured Out” and Eschatology
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Chapter 16 “Poured Out” and Eschatology We have now nearly come to the end of the meal, but there remain two other traditions in the Jesus material of the last supper that potentially shed light on how Jesus understood his death. We have argued that the last supper was not, technically speaking, the Pesah. It was a meal during the week of Pesah, a meal eaten in Jerusalem the night before the official Pesah. We have argued that Jesus converted that meal from a normal Pesah week meal into a symbolic meal, and his symbolism ran deep into the Pesah tradition. In essence, he claimed his death could be shared by his disciples if they ate the bread and drank the wine. We have also argued that it is unlikely (though possible) that Jesus expressed his death in terms of the establishment of a “new covenant.” He has stated that his death was a representative death; it was his death that would inaugurate the death of others. In that his blood (the wine) was symbolic of that death, it is highly likely that he thought his death benefited his disciples. His blood, as a replacement or reenactment of the Pesah blood of the original event, would protect his followers from the coming judgment of God against Jerusalem and its corrupt leadership. Is there any more we might know about how he understood his death? “POURED OUT” Still left on the table is the expression poured out (Mark 14:24; Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20 [LR]).1 The expression has a solid parallel in other Jesus traditions (cf. Mark 10:45), though most judge it inauthentic. The expression is not in the Pauline tradition but it is clearly consistent with Paul’s soteriology. As a result, 1 Specifically, Mark has “poured out for many,” Matthew has “poured out for the forgiveness of sins,” and Luke has “poured out for you.” 323 324 Jesus and His Death we should consider “poured out for many” to be possibly from Jesus. To omit “poured out for many” from the discussion is to pretend to know too much and to know that too precisely. However, to use it is to pretend the same. There is nothing in the last supper that suggests that a cultic metaphor like this would have been used by Jesus, and there is nothing in our discussion so far of Jesus’ understanding of his death that would suggest he thought like this. A careful comparison of the Synoptics reveals only one term consistent in the traditions: poured out. The for many could be attributed to Mark (cf. 10:45), while Matthew and Luke each clarify the benefit of the pouring out: Matthew sees “forgiveness of sins” (26:28) while Luke sees a benefit “for you” (22:20 [LR]). That the Pauline tradition does not have any of this suggests that early Christian extrapolation has occurred. The last supper is to be seen in the context of Pesah week. It is not Pesah, even though it is a Pesah week meal that approximates Pesah in meaning and intent. As an anticipatory Pesah meal, Jesus sees his death as a reenactment of the smearing of blood on the doors of the homes of Israelites so that God would deliver his people from oppressors. Such a national explanation for Jesus’ understanding of his own death conforms to the general tenor of his vision and mission .2 Jesus sees his death as a reenactment of Pesah, without lamb, and offers himself to his followers in order to partake in the deliverance God is about to perform for Israel as part of the arrival of the kingdom of God. Those who eat his body (the bread is a substitute for lamb) and drink his blood (to imbibe his life and partake in the benefits of his life and death) are analogous to those who ate unleavened bread, drank wine, and smeared blood on the doorpost and lintel: his followers, like the Israelites of old, will be “passed over” in God’s imminent judgment . Jesus sees in his death the act whereby God will liberate Israel and, for those who partake of his offering of himself, offers a Pesah-like token of blood sufficient for the imminent judgment. John’s supposedly late step to see Jesus as “lamb of God” (1:29) has, I think, a firm historical anchor. His death would benefit his followers: they would be protected from God’s wrath and set free...


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Subject Headings

  • Jesus Christ -- Person and offices.
  • Atonement.
  • Jesus Christ -- Historicity.
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