May 11. James, John and their Mother Ask for an Impossibility

Mt. 20:20-28; Mk. 10:35-45

James and John were very close personally with Jesus. They were probably cousins and as such could have played together with Him as children. As they were becoming more aware of the coming of the kingdom, they wanted to hold a prominent position with Jesus in that kingdom.

These brothers, along with their mother, who was probably Jesus’ aunt, approached Him with an impossible request. They asked to be seated in prominence on the right and left hand sides of Jesus when He came into His kingdom. He explained that this was not something that He could give.

This was another example of the misunderstanding that the people had regarding the kingdom of Christ. They thought that He would occupy the earthly kingdom of David.

Jesus reminded them again that true greatness comes by serving others instead of being served. He further stated that He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. That is for all who faithfully obey.

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May 10. Jesus Informs Disciples of Coming Events

Mt. 20:17-19; Mk. 10:32-34; Lk. 18:31-34

As Jesus and His disciples got closer to Jerusalem, the disciples sensed the danger of returning and lagged behind like they really didn’t want go along. He called them aside and began to tell them what was about to happen—not a pretty picture.

Jesus informed the apostles that He would be betrayed, condemned and delivered by the Jews to the Gentiles (Romans). Mocking, scourging and crucifixion by the Romans would follow this. On the third day, the power of God would raise Him from the dead.

The disciples had been with Jesus for two to three years, but they did not understand what He was saying.

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May 9. God Pays a Just and Fair Wage

May 9. God Pays a Just and Fair Wage Mt. 20:1-16

Christ related a parable to describe the kingdom of heaven, which is the church. The landowner, who represented God, went out early in the morning to hire laborers to work that day.

A day’s pay was a denarius or eternal life in heaven for a lifetime of work in the church.

Later in the morning, he saw others who were idle and hired them for “whatever is right.” These workers represented those who heard the gospel a little later in life and obeyed. At midday, mid-afternoon and even near the end of the day, he hired other laborers for the same wage. These represented individuals who had heard the gospel late in life and had obeyed.

Even though those who went to work early complained about all laborers receiving the same wage, God has promised an eternal reward for all who “hire” on as Christians and remain faithful throughout life. Notice that those who started working late in life had not been approached until then. They obeyed the call as soon as they heard it.

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May 8. Jesus Teaches on Responsibilities of Riches

Mt. 19:16-30; Mk. 10:17-31; Lk. 18:18-30

As Christ was traveling on the road toward Jerusalem, a rich young ruler approached Him and asked, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”

Even though the young man had been faithful in keeping the Ten Commandments from his youth, Jesus pointed out that he was trusting in his wealth too much. He taught that possessions, family, friends or any other obstacle that comes between us and faithful service to Him must be removed.

Upon hearing those words, the young ruler went away sorrowful because he was very rich. Jesus did not condemn riches, but the trust in riches is to be avoided.

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May 7. We Are to be Childlike

Mt. 19:13-15; Mk. 10:13-16; Lk. 18:15-17

It was customary to bring little children to the president of the synagogue to be prayed over. An even greater privilege was to bring them to the Messiah. Since the disciples felt like it was a waste of Jesus’ time to be hindered by children, they rebuked those who brought their children.

Jesus was greatly displeased with His disciples so He taught a lesson on humility. He stated that, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” He was not teaching infant baptism, but the necessity of becoming humble like a child.

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May 6. Jesus Turns toward Jerusalem; Teaches on Divorce

Mt. 19:1-12; Mk. 10:1-12

After spending some time in the area of Samaria near Galilee, Jesus turned toward Jerusalem for the last time. As He came into the region of Judea east of the Jordan River in Perea, multitudes, including Pharisees followed Him.

The Pharisees sensed an opportunity to entrap Jesus by asking a question about divorce. They reasoned that since He had taught against divorce, except for sexual immorality, in the Sermon on the Mount, He was going against the Law of Moses. If He held to the Law of Moses, He would be contradicting His earlier teaching on the mount.

Jesus escaped that trap by going back to the original law of God. He created man as male and female. A husband and wife became one flesh, and since a man could be separated from his flesh only by death, also only death could separate a husband and wife.

A very serious question faced the people of that day regarding divorce and remarriage. The safest resolution is for husbands and wives to work to stay together and never divorce. If the marriage fails, the best alternative is to remain single.

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May 5. Parable of the Pharisee and Publican

Lk. 18:9-14

In another parable, Jesus spoke to those who were proud, haughty and thought of themselves as better than others. It was a Jewish practice to pray at mid-morning, mid-afternoon or any other time they felt the need. If they were near the temple, they went inside or if they were too far away, they looked toward the temple.

The Pharisee in this parable was self-righteous and placed himself uppermost in his prayer instead of worshipping God. He confessed his goodness instead of his sins.

God hates pride and loves humility. The publican (tax collector) was justified because he humbled himself, recognized and confessed his sins and begged for mercy.

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May 4. Parable of the Persistent Widow

Lk. 18:1-8

Many people expected God to answer their prayers immediately. In order to stress the importance of patience in praying to God, Jesus taught a parable about a persistent widow petitioning a judge. God does not count time as man does, so man must not lose heart if he fails to receive certain blessings when he expects them.

If this ungodly judge had given the widow justice from her adversary, how much more will the righteous God reward a person’s persistence if he continues to ask Him? When the time is right, He will be speedy in His response.

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May 3. Jesus Describes His Next Coming

Lk. 17:20-37

There was much confusion among the people about the kingdom of God. The Pharisees asked Jesus about when He was going to set it up. They were still looking for an earthly kingdom to restore the Jews to their “rightful” glory.

Jesus used this opportunity to describe His next coming. It will be plain and unmistakable. People of the world will be like those during the times of Noah and Lot. They will be eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building. God or anything else spiritual will not be in their minds and they will be surprised like the people of old were, when He comes.

When the Lord returns, the people of God will be alongside those of the world engaged in the things necessary at the time. God’s people, however, will be prepared to go.

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May 2. The Grateful Leper

Lk. 17:11-19

As Jesus traveled in Samaria and near Galilee avoiding the Jewish authorities, He entered a village.

Ten men with leprosy were standing a long distance from Him and because lepers were unclean, they were not allowed to be near anyone. They called and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

After the men were healed, one of them, a Samaritan returned and glorified God and thanked Jesus for his healing.

In a show of ingratitude, the other nine continued on their way. Jesus commented, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” One cannot count the daily blessings that come from God. A constant attitude of thanksgiving should be in the hearts of all men.

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May 1. The Sanhedrin Meets

Jn. 11:47-54

The Sanhedrin or council consisted of seventy-one men who were unquestionably of Israelite descent. There were seventy ordinary members and the high priest, who was the official president of the group.

Roman law gave the council utmost authority over matters pertaining to the Jews—even the power to sentence to death. They could not execute the sentence of death, but were required to turn the condemned person over to the Romans for that action.

Upon receiving the word of the resurrection of Lazarus, the council met to determine what to do with Jesus. They were faced with a huge dilemma.

The Jews recognized that Jesus had performed many signs (miracles) and if left alone, everyone would believe in Him. They also had seen these miracles and knew that God had to be with Him.

What once had been a religious difficulty had now turned into a political catastrophe. They feared that Rome would come in and take away their seats in government and even their nation. Their political lives were in danger and that was the most important thing to them. One should not let politics, prestige, money, social position or anything else come between God and himself.

Caiaphas, the high priest, told the Sanhedrin that they did not know anything. They needed a plan of action! The solution was for one man (Jesus) to die and not the whole nation. “Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.” (Without even a hearing!)

After hearing of this plot, Jesus and His disciples left and went to Ephraim, a city in an area near the wilderness about sixteen miles northeast of Jerusalem.

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Apr. 30. Jesus Raises Lazarus

Jn. 11:1-46

While He was still teaching in the area of Parea, His good friend, Lazarus of Bethany became sick. His sisters, Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come.

Since He had a plan to further reveal the glory of God, Jesus remained two more days before going to Bethany. He knew that by the time He arrived, Lazarus would be dead.

As Jesus came near Bethany, Martha came to meet Him and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

Jesus, implying that He was planning to raise Lazarus from the dead replied, “Your brother will rise again.”

She thought He was referring to the resurrection at the end of time. Jesus further stated, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Martha made the same confession that Peter had made several weeks earlier as they traveled to Caesarea Philippi, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

After this, Martha left and called for Mary to come with her to meet with Jesus.

He was still outside of Bethany and when Mary came to Him, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Some of the Jews said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

Lazarus had been dead and buried four days, but that did not matter to Jesus, because His power could have raised him, even if his body had been completely decayed.

The human side of Jesus was evident as He groaned in Himself and wept with the family and friends of Lazarus; however, the divine was much greater.

Jesus prayed to God in order to show the kinship He had with the Father and to increase the faith of those Jews who were present. He then called out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”

When Lazarus came from the tomb still bound with the grave clothes, many of the Jews believed, but others went to the Pharisees and reported on this most recent miracle of Jesus.

After four months of study, we are nearing the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In tomorrow’s study, the Jewish leaders conclude that He must die in order to save their nation—a death sentence without due process. Please continue with our chronological study through the Bible.

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Apr. 29. Some Rules to Live by

Lk. 17:1-10

When Jesus had concluded His remarks to the Pharisees, He turned to the disciples and began to instruct them. He stressed the importance of avoiding offences toward weaker brothers.

Jesus also pointed out the necessity of correcting sins. He taught that there should be unlimited forgiveness toward a brother who repents and asks for forgiveness.

Those who follow Jesus are servants and are expected to perform to the best of their abilities. A person who is more capable and does more than another is no better in God’s sight, because no one can do enough good works to deserve the grace of God. He has only done his duty.

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Apr. 28. The Rich Man and Lazarus

Lk. 16:19-31

To further stress the importance of the proper use of one’s money, Jesus told a story of a rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. The rich man lived a life of luxury, but Lazarus begged for just the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.

After they both had died, the rich man, because of his selfish use of money was in torment in Hades and Lazarus was in the bosom of Abraham. Lazarus was not saved because he was poor, but it must be inferred that he was obedient to God.

As the rich man suffered, he became the beggar. He begged for Abraham to send Lazarus to just touch the tip of his tongue with water. That was impossible as there are no second chances after death.

The rich man then became concerned about his five brothers, who were still alive, but were living in sin. He requested that Lazarus be sent back to warn them. Abraham pointed out that if they would not hear the word of God, they would not believe, even though someone were to return from the dead.

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Apr. 27. Parable of the Unjust Steward

Lk. 16:1-18

Jesus taught a parable regarding the proper use of material possessions. In this parable, He told of an unjust steward (farm manager), who after learning that he was about to be dismissed from his job, made plans for his future welfare.

The deceitful method the steward used was not condoned, but the foresight he used in caring for his future was commended. Jesus’ lesson was that money is not to be one’s god, but that it is only a means by which to provide the necessities of life, care for the less fortunate and serve the true God.

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