The beginning of this chapter in Numbers is a restatement of past regulations from Leviticus, but towards the end of the first part there is a distinction between sins committed in error or without forethought, and those that were premeditated. That remains a distinction, although in a slightly different way, for us as the difference between venial and mortal sins. Not all sin is the same, just as not all crimes are the same, so too are sins in the Old Covenant and the New.
The tassels mentioned at the end of this chapter have been worn by observant Jews throughout the ages since this command was given, and is probably the “hem of the garment” that the woman with the hemorrhage reached out to grab on Jesus’ robe.
Elihu launches into his third speech, and in this he defends God’s sovereignty again. He points out that even if Job is sinless (a claim Elihu finds very doubtful) he still has no legal or moral claim to call God into court. God is above and not answerable to his creation, so Job is wrong to call him to testify as if he were a common witness.
Jesus prepares to eat the Passover meal with his apostles on the night he was betrayed. The Last Supper narrative here is very much the same as what we covered when we read Matthew 26.
Mark records Jesus in the same words he used during the multiplication of the loaves and fish. He “took, blessed, broke and gave” this is also the same sequence that the priests use during the consecration in the mass.
When Jesus consecrates the chalice of wine and says it’s now his precious blood, he calls it “the blood of the covenant” this is the same language we’ve read Moses using for the blood that sealed the Old Covenant in Exodus and Leviticus. (For more on the Eucharist go here The Truth of the Eucharist Changed My Life)
Immediately after this Jesus tells them that they will all fall away, but Peter once again shows us the truth behind the popular maxim ‘make your words sweet, because one day you’ll eat them,’ but unfortunately for him that day is only a few hours away.
It’s easy to shake our heads and think Peter was weak or indecisive, but every time we commit a mortal sin we’re turning our backs on the Lord, even as he’s bleeding and dying for us, we say “my will, not thy will.” Thinking of that puts Peter in a much more symptomatic light here.
Jesus goes away to pray in the garden three times, and each time he returns to find the apostles sleeping. If they truly understood Jesus when he repeatedly told them about his impending death, would they have wasted their final hours with him by sleeping through his prayer? Most of us won’t know the hour of our own deaths, but if we did, would we sleep or pray? I hope it would be the latter. What about a friend or parent’s last day, would we pray with them?
That’s one of the main takeaways from the gethsemane scene for me; that even though Jesus told them over and over, they still didn’t realize how close death was, and if they did they would’ve most likely acted differently. We don’t know when death will come, so remaining vigilant and prayerful is always a good idea.