We open with the story of the widow’s offering (Mark 12), and then Jesus predicting the destruction of the temple (both reworded, but not different). The rest of the chapter is the end-times prophesy stuff from Mark 13 and Matt 24. But Luke splits it up – parts of Matt 24 were already partly covered in Luke 17; the rest is here. Luke is trying to make me crazy! I reread the 3 versions, and they all include basically the same material. Matthew and Luke added a bit to what Mark started with – especially the ‘rapture ready’ stuff about Noah etc. But Matthew lumped all of that into a single chapter, whereas Luke’s chapter 21 is more similar to Mark’s version, without the ‘rapture ready’ addition. In Luke the section about the rapture is in chapter 17. Clear now?
Here are the leaders plotting to kill Jesus but not sure how – Passover is approaching and they want to avoid a riot. This same story is told in Mark 14 and Matt 26 – near the end of both books, just before the whole crucifixion tale. Next, in Mark and Matt, Jesus is anointed by the woman with the expensive oil. Supposedly this is a foretelling of his death; she is anointing his body ahead of time (kind of morbid, but whatever). So why did Luke place the story about the anointing way back in chapter 7? I thought it odd at the time, and it seems even more so now; it should fit in right here. No matter – move on.
Luke skips ahead here to Judas betraying Jesus – for money. Like Mark, Luke doesn’t specify the amount or type; only Matthew mentions 30 pieces of silver. Then the story of the Last Supper. The first part of the story in all 3 gospels is pretty much the same, although the wording in Luke is more similar to Mark than Matthew, especially the details of how the disciples got to the room where they would eat. But there is one notable contradiction. In Mark and Matthew, they sit down at the table and then before they start eating, Jesus announces that one of them will betray him. In Luke, this doesn’t happen until after they eat. I don’t know Luke’s reason for putting this later, but I can certainly think of one. If you had attended this dinner party, and heard the host make that announcement before the food was even served, would you stay and eat? Because I think that in most social – or even family – situations, a statement like that would put the kibosh on the evening. So it makes sense to leave the upsetting news until after the meal.
Anyway, once Luke finally gets to the part about the betrayal, he tells it very differently from either Mark or Luke. First, he leaves out the part about Judas asking ‘Is it I?” Then the disciples start another argument about who among them is the greatest, and Jesus gives them the stock response about who is greatest will be the least yada yada yada, and then promises them that they will get to sit on thrones in the “Kingdom” (I assume that means heaven?) and judge the 12 tribes of Israel. This last bit is pulled from Mark 10 and Matthew 19 (although Mark doesn’t mention the bit about the tribes of Israel). And the SAB laughingly asks – Which tribe will Judas judge?? Good point – go figure.
For the section subtitled in my bible ‘Jesus predicts Peter’s denial’ (v 31-38), Mark and Matthew are in agreement and Luke goes off into left field. Jesus starts off by praying for Simon (Peter), that he will remain faithful and not be swayed by the devil. Then there’s the usual stuff about Peter denying that he will deny Jesus, same as in the other gospels except for the discrepancies about how many times that poor cock has to crow and when (not getting into that again here).
Mark and Matthew end the story here, but Luke babbles on. He refers back to the speech Jesus gave his disciples when he sent them out to preach, about the sandals and walking stick (Mark 6, Matthew 10, Luke 9 and 10) (so this is the third time that Luke has mentioned it), but adds that if they don’t have a sword, they should sell their cloaks and buy one. WTF? The reason for that advice seems to be prophesy in Isaiah 53:12 that must be fulfilled, that Jesus should be counted among rebels/outlaws. But Mark also quoted that verse in Isaiah, only he said that it was fulfilled by Jesus being crucified among rebels (Mark 15:27-28, although apparently the reference to Isaiah wasn’t even included in all manuscripts of Mark). So which is it? Seems to me that the gospel writers were determined to make Jesus fulfill prophesy any way they could so they just made stuff up to fit.
The next section, about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, (not mentioned by name in Luke, but it is at the foot of the Mount of Olives, so presumably it’s the same place) is shorter than the previous two versions. It doesn’t mention Jesus praying and then returning to his disciples more than once, and it omits two oft-quoted phrases (‘couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?’ And ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’). Luke clearly doesn’t want his version of Jesus to display any human doubts or fears.
V 43-44 are not found in the previous gospels, and footnotes indicate that they are not found in all manuscripts of Luke, either. So were they part of the original and deleted from some editions later, or were they not part of the original and added to some additions later?
The story of Jesus’ arrest is a little different in Luke, too. After Judas kisses Jesus, in Mark, Jesus does not respond; in Matthew, Jesus tells Judas to do what he came to do; in Luke, Jesus rebukes Judas. Then one of Jesus’ company slashes off the ear of the high priest’s slave, and only in Luke does Jesus magically reattach the ear and heal it; in Mark and Matthew the guy is still missing an ear.
The next section in Mark and Matthew is Jesus appearing before the council, but in Luke, that comes after Peter denies Jesus. It’s a headache rehashing this passage with each gospel; suffice to say that there are contradictions in accounts regarding to whom Peter denied Jesus, and how many times that darned cock crowed, and when, and whether Peter denied Jesus before or after the cock crowed… you get the idea.
Then Luke has the guards in charge of Jesus mocking and spitting at him; in Mark and Matthew this doesn’t occur until after Jesus has been ‘convicted’ of blasphemy. Last in this interminable chapter, Jesus appears before the religious council. For some reason Luke leaves out a lot of the detail from Mark and Matthew about the charges and accusations, and heads straight for the important question – is Jesus claiming to be the Messiah/son of god? In the first two gospels, Jesus directly answers yes, but in Luke he prevaricates, although he implies that he is.