Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Greek of Mark 14:35 and John 12:24

I whipped out my tablet with my Olive Tree App that contains the Nestle-Aland 28th edition with critical apparatus. I was having lunch with my former MTh student (who is going for his PhD shortly) and we talked about the importance of the Greek New Testament. We were encouraging one another on our recent discoveries using the Greek NT. I was reading the Greek text of Mark 14 while listening to Philip Jensen's preaching at ARPC last Sunday on the Lord's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. My eyes fell upon the narrator's words that Jesus "fell onto the ground" (in the Greek, epipten epi tes ges). Jesus, being sorrowful, fell upon the ground praying to the Father. It is here that Jesus' posture of prayer strikes me. I know that people fall on the ground to worship (bow down) and people kneel before the Lord in prayers. But falling to the ground gives prominence to the added dimension of urgency and desperation in the Lord's prayers to the Father. Falling to the ground points to Jesus' utter dependence on God and on his humility. It was when Daniel sought for understanding and humbled himself that he was heard by God (Dan 10).
How often I realised that I normally kneel beside my bed or sofa during my morning prayers. Sometimes I simply sit on my chair and pray along with the Psalms. But since Sunday, I came home and fell on the ground (the floor) with my face on the floor imploring God. When you read Greek, there are distinct advantages. I remember that another passage in John 12 has Jesus saying that unless the kernel of wheat falls into the ground, it remains alone but if it dies, it produces much grain (John 12:24). In the Greek, the words are peson eis ten gen translated as "having fallen into the ground/earth" from the same root word, "fall" (pipto). One key interpretive or exegetical principle is that like phrases and clauses (especially related texts like the Gospels) must be examined closely to see whether there is any connection between them, and in this instance between Mark 14:35 and John 12:24. I suggest there is. Jesus' falling onto the ground is a sign that through his prayers to God (not my will but thine be done) he is prepared to die like the kernel of wheat falls to the ground and when he dies, he will produce much fruits as John puts it, "when the Son of Man is lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32).

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