18 Then Gideon approached the two kings, Zebah and Zalmunna.
Gideon: What can you tell me about the men you killed at Tabor?
Zebah and Zalmunna: They were just like you—like the sons of a king.
Gideon: 19 They were my brothers, the sons of my mother. As the Eternal lives, if you had let them live, I would not kill you now.
20 Gideon directed his firstborn son, Jether, to kill them, but Jether was afraid and couldn’t draw his sword since he was only a boy.
Zebah and Zalmunna: 21 Come and kill us yourself for a man is measured by his strength.
So Gideon executed them, and he took the crescents that had adorned the necks of their camels.
22 Then the people of Israel spoke to Gideon.
People: Rule over us—you, your son, and then your grandson, for you have rescued us from the oppression of Midian.
Gideon (refusing): 23 I will not rule over you, and neither will my son. The Eternal will reign over you.
24 But I have a request to make. Each of you, give me one of the earrings you have taken as plunder.
(The enemy they defeated had gold earrings, as was the fashion of the Ishmaelites.)
People: 25 We will certainly do that.
So they spread a cloak, and each of the men threw in an earring he had taken as spoils of battle; 26 and the weight of the gold earrings was over 42 pounds of gold, which does not include the crescents, the ornaments, and the purple garments they had taken from the kings of Midian, and the collars they had taken from the necks of their camels.
27 Gideon made it into a priestly vest, sometimes used in seeking oracles, and put it in his hometown of Ophrah. But the people of Israel made an idol of it, and it became a snare to Gideon and to his family as well.
28 This is how Midian was subdued by the people of Israel, and Midian never lifted up its head to trouble them again. During the time of Gideon, the land had 40 years of peace. 29 Jerubbaal (Gideon), son of Joash, went to live in his own home. 30 Gideon had 70 sons who were his own children, for he had many wives and concubines, 31 and his concubine in Shechem bore him a son whom he named Abimelech.
32 Gideon, son of Joash, died after many years of life and was buried with his father Joash at Ophrah in the land of the Abiezrites.
Gideon is one of the most powerful judges of Israel: he attacks and overthrows kings; he plunders their royal treasures; and after his great success against the land of Midian, the people of God actually want to make him their king. This desire is logical. Other peoples have kings to lead them into battle and to rule over them. Why not them? But this is not God’s desire for His people, and Gideon knows that pain, destruction, and bloodshed follow when someone pursues the throne against God’s will. Gideon tells them he will not rule them—and neither will his sons—so they can get that idea out of their heads. But the thirst for power leads to intrigue, and one of Gideon’s sons plays on the people’s continual desire for order at the hand of a king.
33 As soon as Gideon died, the Israelites turned away from the Lord, and they began to prostitute themselves again to the Baals. They made Baal-berith their chief god. 34 The people of Israel did not remember the Eternal One, their True God, who had rescued them from the oppression of enemies on every side, 35 and they were not kind to the house of Jerubbaal (Gideon) despite all the good he had done for Israel.
9 Abimelech, the son of Jerubbaal, went to Shechem to the clan of his mother.
Abimelech (to his mother’s family): 2 Go, and say this so that all the leaders of Shechem can hear you: “Is it better that 70 sons of Jerubbaal should be your rulers, or only one of them?” And remember that I share your own bone and flesh.
3 So Abimelech’s mother’s kinsmen went out and repeated these words to the leaders of Shechem, and they were favorably disposed toward him because they said, “He is our brother.” 4 They gave Abimelech 70 pieces of silver out of the treasury of Baal-berith, and he used the money to hire some reckless and worthless men who followed him and did his dirty work.
5 He went to his father’s house in Ophrah and killed all 70 of his half-brothers, the sons of Jerubbaal, on one stone. (Only Jotham, the youngest, was left alive, because he hid.) 6 Then all the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo came together and crowned Abimelech king by the great oak tree at the pillar in Shechem.
7 When Jotham was told what had happened, he climbed to the top of Mount Gerizim.
Jotham: Listen to me, all you who are the leaders in Shechem, so that God may listen to you.
8 The trees once decided to go out
and anoint a king to rule them all.
They said to the olive tree,
“Reign over us.”
9 But the olive tree refused, saying,
“Should I stop producing the rich oil used to honor both gods and mortals so I can stand and sway over the trees?”
10 Then the trees went to the fig tree, saying,
“You come and reign over us.”
11 But the fig tree refused, saying,
“Should I give up my sweetness and stop producing my delicious fruit so I can stand and sway over the trees?”
12 Then the trees said to the grapevine,
“You come and reign over us.”
13 But the vine refused, saying,
“Should I stop producing the wine that cheers both gods and mortals so I can stand and sway over the trees?”
14 At last the trees came to the worthless thornbush, saying,
“You come and reign over us.”
15 And the thornbush said to the trees,
“If in good faith you want to anoint me as your king,
then come and take refuge in my shade (of which there was precious little).
But if you haven’t come in good faith, then let fire come from my brambles
and burn down the cedars of Lebanon.”
16 Now if you have made this decision to crown Abimelech king in good faith, with sincerity, have acted honorably toward my father Jerubbaal and his family, and have treated him as his actions toward you deserve; 17 you know how my father fought for you, risked his life for you, rescued you from the hand of the Midianites. 18 But now here you are, rising up against my father’s house, killing all of his sons, 70 of them, on one stone; and you have made Abimelech, the son of my father’s slave woman, king over all the leaders of Shechem, simply because he is your kinsman. 19 Well, I say, if you have acted honorably toward Jerubbaal and his family, then now may you take joy in Abimelech, and may he take joy in you.
20 But if you have not acted honorably, then may fire come out of Abimelech and burn up the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo. May fire come from you and burn up Abimelech.
21 When he had said these words, Jotham fled for his life to Beer, where he stayed because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech.
44 At this point, it was about noon, and a darkness fell over the whole region. The darkness persisted until about three in the afternoon, 45 and at some point during this darkness, the curtain in the temple was torn in two.
The tearing of this heavy curtain in the temple is highly symbolic. Because this curtain separated the holiest place in the temple from the rest of the temple, some see in this act a symbol of God opening the way for unholy humans to enter into His holy presence: Jesus’ death brought forgiveness and opened the way for all to come to God. Others see in the curtain’s being torn the opposite meaning: God’s presence can no longer be confined to any single geographical place. The suffering and death of Jesus ended one age of human history, and now a new era has begun. Now God is on the move, at large, invading the whole world. Or perhaps this graphic image means both.
Jesus (shouting out loudly): 46 Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands![a]
And with those words, He exhaled—and breathed no more.
47 The Centurion[b]—one of the soldiers who performed the execution—saw all this, and he praised God.
Centurion: No doubt, this man must have been innocent.
48 The crowds of common people who had gathered and watched the whole ordeal through to its conclusion left for their homes, pounding on their own chests in profound grief. 49 And all who knew Jesus personally, including the group of women who had been with Him from the beginning in Galilee, stood at a distance, watching all of these things unfold.
50 Meanwhile a man named Joseph had been at work. He was a member of the council, a good and fair man, 51 from a Judean town called Arimathea. He had objected to the plans and actions of the council; he was seeking the kingdom of God. 52 He had gone to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 He removed the body from the cross and wrapped it in a shroud made of fine linen. He then laid the body in a cavelike tomb cut from solid rock, a tomb that never had been used before. 54 It was Preparation Day—the day before the holy Sabbath—and it was about to begin at sundown. 55 The women who had accompanied Jesus from the beginning in Galilee now came, took note of where the tomb was and how His body had been prepared, 56 then left to prepare spices and ointments for His proper burial. They ceased their work on the Sabbath so they could rest as the Hebrew Scriptures required.
24 Early on Sunday morning, even before the sun had fully risen, these women made their way back to the tomb with the spices and ointments they had prepared. 2 When they arrived, they found the stone was rolled away from the tomb entrance, 3 and when they looked inside, the body of the Lord Jesus was nowhere to be seen. 4 They didn’t know what to think. As they stood there in confusion, two men suddenly appeared standing beside them. These men seemed to glow with light. 5 The women were so terrified that they fell to the ground facedown.
This phrase, “Son of Man,” is very important in Luke’s story and may have many layers of meaning. It may mean “epitome of humanity” or “prime example of what a human can be.” But it also evokes a specific passage of Scripture that is very important to Jewish people, Daniel 7:13-27. There the phrase “Son of Man” refers to a king who receives an eternal and universal kingdom, and it also represents “the saints of the Most High”—the people of God. In light of Jesus’ central message about the kingdom of God, it is likely that the phrase suggests Jesus is the long-awaited Anointed One who launches a new era in human history and who creates a community of people who represent the eternal and universal kingdom of God. In this way, “Son of” suggests “new generation of,” and “Man” suggests “humanity.” Jesus is Himself the new generation of humanity (a second Adam, a new beginning), and the community He creates shares this identity (a new creation, a new humanity in Jesus). The two messengers here use this pregnant phrase in a way that shocks everyone: The way this long-awaited Anointed One receives His kingdom is not through conventional military victory where enemies are defeated and killed. No, this King receives His kingdom by suffering, dying, and rising again Himself. Amazing news—good news!
Two Men: Why are you seeking the living One in the place of the dead? 6 He is not here. He has risen from the dead. Don’t you remember what He told you way back in Galilee? 7 He told you that the Son of Man must be handed over to wicked men, He must be crucified, and then on the third day He must rise.
8 The women did remember Jesus’ words about this, 9 so they returned from the tomb and found the eleven and recounted for them—and others with them—everything they had experienced. 10-11 The Lord’s emissaries[c] heard their stories as fiction, a lie; they didn’t believe a word of it. (By the way, this group of women included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, along with a number of others.) 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he reached the opening, he bent down, looked inside, and saw the linen burial cloths lying there. But the body was gone. He walked away, full of wonder about what had happened.
1 The Eternal is the king ruling over all;
let all people shake in fear.
He sits on His throne, settled between winged guardians;[a]
let the planet tremble.
2 The Eternal is great in the hearts of His people;
He has made Zion His sacred mountain,
and He reigns majestic over all people.
3 Let them express praise and gratitude to Your amazing and awesome name—
because He is holy, perfect and exalted in His power.
4 The King who rules with strength also treasures justice.
You created order and established what is right.
You have carried out justice
and done what is right to the people of Jacob.
5 Lift up the Eternal our God in your heart;
bow down to the earth where He rests His feet.
He is holy, perfect and exalted in His power.
6 Moses and Aaron were two of His priests;
Samuel was among those who called out to Him.
They asked the Eternal for help, and He answered them.
7 He answered them from a column of cloud;
they heeded His testimonies
and lived by the laws He gave them.
8 You answered them, Eternal our God;
You were, to them, a God who forgives,
yet You did not ignore what they did wrong
and punished them fairly as well.
9 Lift up the Eternal our God in your hearts,
and celebrate His goodness at His holy mountain,
for the Eternal our God is holy, perfect and exalted in His power.
- 99:1 Literally, cherubim