Scriptural Mash-up

Original research on an often overlooked aspect of the Easter story.

A mash-up in music or movies is when parts of previous productions are brought together to create something new. Often, I do not know enough of the past materials to catch this. This is also an easy-to-miss Scriptural technique. Luke references this in Jesus’ resurrection discussion on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:25-27). Jesus and Matthew’s Gospel are masters of mash-up.

Palm Sunday
In the Passion Week story, Matthew continually mashes the events with the prophet Zechariah. The week starts with Palm Sunday and Zechariah 9:9 in Matthew 21:5. “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” Many have faulted Matthew for having two animals, but Matthew has mashed this text with David’s disputed entrance into Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 16 and maybe Moses’ return to Egypt in Exodus 4:16, where the Greek translation has two donkeys.

Jesus’ temple action in Matthew 21:12-13 mashes with Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11 and the concluding statement of Zechariah, “And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day” (Zech.14:21, NRSV).

Judas
Judas betrays Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15, 27:3-10). Again, Matthew’s reference (27:9) to Jeremiah has caused problems because people do not see the mash-up. In Zechariah 11:12, the Jerusalem leadership abuse the prophet-shepherd Zechariah by sarcastically valuing him at 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave (Ex. 21:32). Zechariah throws the money to the potter in the temple. Matthew mashes this with Jeremiah’s potter prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction (Jer.19:1-13) and yet future hope symbolized in Jeremiah’s land purchase (Jer.32:6-9).

Last Supper 
The “blood of the covenant” (Matt. 26:38) might reflect the same phrase in Zechariah 9:11, and right after that Jesus directly quotes Zechariah 13:7, “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’” (Matt. 26:31). In Zechariah this is a sign of the coming purifying judgment on Jerusalem and yet future restoration. This is the story in the Last Supper and what is to come in Matthew.

Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
At Jesus’ death, Matthew takes from Mark the powerful symbolism of the tearing of the temple veil, but he adds details of an earthquake and resurrection of “holy ones.” Matthew also has an earthquake at Jesus’ resurrection (28:2). Zechariah 14:4-6 brings together the Mount of Olives, an earthquake, the coming of God, holy ones and darkness. God is coming to judge and purify Jerusalem, then “On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem . . . The Lord will be king over the whole earth” (Zech. 14 8-9, cf. Matt. 26:30, 27:45, 28:18).

Zechariah 9-14 expresses the struggles of the post-exilic Jews returning to Jerusalem. It addresses the same issues at the time of Jesus and the Matthean community. Jerusalem was not restored because of the false shepherds and the rejection of God’s shepherd. This led to conflict, God’s purifying judgment and ultimately God’s restoration. This is the story of the Passion Week, Matthew’s community, human history and today.

Today
Our stories still mash-up with Scripture. We wrestle with false shepherds in the church and world who bring conflict and destruction to the flock. God’s good and faithful shepherds are rejected. Hope is postponed but not lost. We still mash-up with John 10, Psalm 23 and Matthew.

“‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’” (John 10:11, NIV). 

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing” (Psalm 23:1, NIV).

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’” (Matt. 2:6, NIV, cf. Micah 5:2-4). 

Instead of leadership smash-ups we need Scriptural shepherding mash-ups.

Author

  • Dr. Thomas Wolthuis is a CRC pastor serving as the English pastor of the Chinese Church of Iowa City. He has been a campus minister, institute president, professor, pastor, and church planter. His Biblical Studies podcasts are at www.geneva-ui.org.

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