May 26. Jesus’ Public Ministry Concludes

Jn. 12:27-50

As Jesus continued speaking to Philip and Andrew, the human side of Him began to ponder the suffering He would endure soon. He asked, “What shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’?”

Jesus answered His own question by saying, “But for this purpose, I came to this hour.”

Turning to God, Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify Your name.”

A voice from heaven that sounded like thunder said, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

Jesus’ name had indeed been glorified at His baptism, at the transfiguration and by the performance of many miracles. His name would be further glorified by His being Head of the church, by gospel preaching and by Him becoming the final Judge of all men.

Some of the Jews who believed were startled and disturbed when Jesus began to talk about His death. They stated that the Law of Moses had said that the Christ (Messiah) would live forever. He has claimed to be the Christ, but He also is saying that He will die.

These Jews began to doubt that Jesus was truly the Messiah. They did not understand that He would die a physical death, but that His spirit would live forever as He reigned over His spiritual kingdom in heaven.

Many of the Jewish rulers believed in Jesus, but they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. Since being cast out of the synagogue was like being without a country, they did not confess this faith; for fear that they would be cast out.

Jesus made a final plea to the Jews to accept Him while He was still with them and while they still had the opportunity. He then summarized His mission on earth: He was sent by God; those who believe in Him believe in God; the message He has brought was from God; those who reject that message will be judged by it; but, those who believe in Jesus and His message have the power to obtain salvation.


May 25. Jesus’ Hour Has Come

Jn. 12:20-26

There were certain Greeks present at the temple who wanted to see Jesus. These were probably proselytes (Jewish converts) who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover. After Philip and Andrew had informed Him of their desire, He began to disclose that His hour (time of His sacrifice) had come.

Jesus used an allegory of a grain of wheat to explain why He must die. Unless a grain of wheat dies in the ground, it cannot reproduce itself. He could not be glorified unless He died. In a like manner, we cannot live for Christ if we do not die to self. Those who follow and serve Him will be where He is also and be honored by the Father.


May 24. Jesus Observes the Offering of a Poor Widow

Mk. 12:41-44; Lk. 21:1-4

There were thirteen chests located inside one of the courts of the temple. Each chest had a trumpet shaped opening and was labeled for a specific use. Money for the operation of the temple was thrown into each chest.

Jesus was observing this procedure as each individual passed by. As the rich cast in large amounts, a widow came and cast in two mites. A mite was worth about one-fifth of a cent.

Even though this woman had contributed only a very small amount, she was praised because that was all she had. Jesus looked at the quality of her giving instead of the quantity. The rich had given a large quantity out of their abundance. He would soon give all for us.


May 23. Jesus Denounces the Scribes and Pharisees in His Last Public Teaching

Mt. 23:1-39; Mk. 12:38-40; Lk. 20:45-47

Jesus turned His attention from the Jewish leaders and began to speak more directly to the apostles and the other people assembled in the temple at that time. He instructed them to follow the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, but to avoid their examples.

As He spoke, Jesus directed some of His most harsh criticism toward the scribes and Pharisees because of their hypocrisy. They were guilty of making a big show of their religion by the garments they wore, the desire to be in the places of honor and praying long prayers only to be seen of men. Humility is an attribute that was lacking among these people.

By opposing Jesus, the scribes and Pharisees were blocking the kingdom of heaven—not going in themselves nor allowing others to enter either.

Jesus pronounced a series of woes upon the scribes and Pharisees. He denounced them for their hypocritical actions, mistreating of widows, spiritual blindness, attention to small things but overlooking major issues and for having unclean hearts. He compared them to decorated tombs that looked good on the outside, but inside contained dead bodies.

As Jesus continued to warn the people to avoid the sins of the scribes and Pharisees, He began to warn them of the destruction of Jerusalem. He expressed His desire to shelter them as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but they were not willing.


May 22. Jesus Asks a Hard Question

Mt. 22:41-46; Mk. 12:35-37; Lk. 20:41-44

After the Jews had failed to trap Jesus, He asked them the question, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”

They replied, “The Son of David.”

This was true in the physical sense, but David had referred to Christ in the Psalms as “Lord.” He asked the Jews why David would call Him “Lord,” if He were His son. They could not or would not acknowledge that He was also the Son of God.

The Jewish leaders did not ask for an explanation, but the common people continued to hear Him gladly.


May 21. The Jews Try to Trap Jesus

Mt. 22:15-40; Mk. 12:13-34; Lk. 20:20-40

The Herodians were Jews, who were loyal to the Herods. They were enemies of the Pharisees, but on this occasion, the two groups united to try to trap Jesus. Since the Jews hated to pay taxes to the Romans, they asked Him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?”

They thought that if Jesus answered, “Yes,” the Jews would be offended. If He answered “No,” the Romans could arrest Him for encouraging tax evasion. A perfect trap, they thought.

After the Jews had identified Caesar’s image and inscription on a denarius (coin), Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus had stopped the people in their tracks and they were all amazed at His answer.

The Sadducees were a sect of the Jews who did not believe in angels, spirits or the resurrection of the dead. They believed that a person’s reward or punishment came while he was on earth instead of after a resurrection.

After Jesus had silenced the Pharisees and Herodians, the Sadducees tried to trick Him with a question about the “so-called resurrection.” They gave an example of a woman who had been married seven times to brothers. With all seven brothers claiming exclusive rights to the same wife, heaven would seem like a perfect mix-up in family relations.

Jesus pointed out their ignorance. He taught them that marriage is an earthly relationship that ends at death. There is no marriage in heaven.

It was also taught that there is indeed life after death. God is the God of the living, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and not of the dead. Therefore, the spirits of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still alive after death and are waiting for the resurrection of the dead.

After Jesus had silenced the Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees, they had a meeting of the minds to determine another way to trap Him.

A lawyer had an idea of another way to trick Jesus into taking sides in a controversial issue. According to Jewish writers, some felt that of the more than six hundred commandments in the Law of Moses, animal sacrifices were the most important; others thought that wearing of phylacteries, or the great feasts or purification were the most important. The lawyer asked Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

The lawyer could only admire and agree with Jesus because His answer was so well worded.

Jesus also complimented the lawyer for being “not far from the kingdom of God.” Being not far from the kingdom of God is not the same as being in it. One who is nearly saved is still lost.

These people did not ask Jesus any more questions because they had been embarrassed three times and they did not want to show any more of His wisdom or their own ignorance.


May 20. Jesus Teaches a Series of Parables

Mt. 21:28-22:14; Mk. 12:1-12; Lk. 20:9-19

As a means to regain their attention, Jesus asked the authorities another question. “What do you think?”

He then began to relate a parable about two sons. Their father asked each of them to go into the vineyard and work.

The first said, “I will not.” He realized his mistake later, repented and went.

After the second son had said, “I go, sir,” he did not go.

Jesus asked the members of the Sanhedrin which son had done the will of the father. They replied, “The first.”

Tax collectors and harlots, who were the scum of the earth in the eyes of these leaders had believed and obeyed the teaching of John the Baptist. Jesus told these rulers, who were pleasing to God in their own eyes that they had refused to believe John.

In another parable, Jesus presented God as the owner of a vineyard. The vineyard was His chosen people, the Jewish nation.

As time went by, the owner leased the vineyard out to vinedressers and went into a far country for a long time. The price of the lease was a portion of the fruit of the vineyard. When the time for fruit drew near, servants were sent to collect the lease payment. Instead of giving fruit to the servants, the vinedressers killed some and beat others.

The owner, thinking that they would respect his son, sent him to collect the payment. In a society of crooked judges, the vinedressers reasoned that if they killed the heir, they could inherit the vineyard. When he arrived, they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

Some of these leaders did not understand that this story applied to them and said that these men should be destroyed and the vineyard leased to others. Others did grasp what Jesus was talking about and said, “Certainly not!”

In this parable, the vinedressers represented the Jewish leaders and the servants were the prophets that God had sent before the coming of Christ.

Jesus, representing Himself as the son prophesied that He would be killed outside the walls of Jerusalem. This came true later in that same week.

The Jews were eager to build the Messianic kingdom, but they were too blind to see that this kingdom could not be set up without resting upon Jesus as the chief cornerstone. They were unskilled laborers, who rejected the cornerstone of the building they were trying to erect.

Jesus prophesied that many would fall over this stone and be broken. All who face Him in the judgment and are lost will be ground up by this stone.

When the chief priests and scribes understood that Jesus was talking about them, they wanted to arrest Him, but they were afraid of the people because they were highly outnumbered.

Jesus presented a third parable, regarding the marriage of a king’s son, which also showed the Jews refusing to accept Him.

A more detailed application of this parable shows God inviting the Jews into the eternal home in heaven. Prophets, apostles and teachers were sent to deliver the message of salvation. Many of them were mistreated and some of them were even killed. They refused to accept the invitation and God destroyed their city, Jerusalem. Gentiles were then invited.

When Christ comes at the judgment, many will be present, but some will not be prepared because they have not put on Christ, their “wedding garment” as their savior. Since they had opportunities to prepare, they will have no excuse for their neglect.

These people will be bound to prevent the possibility of escape and thrown into eternal punishment where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.


May 19. Jesus’ Authority Questioned

Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:20-33; Lk. 20:1-8

Tuesday morning as Jesus and the apostles returned to the temple, they passed by the fig tree that He had cursed the day before. The apostles were amazed that the tree was dried up even from the roots. He explained that He performed this miracle to show the importance of faith when one prays. Still, God expects effort on our part. Pray like it all depends upon God and work like it all depends upon us.

After Jesus had arrived at the temple to teach another day, the chief priests, scribes and elders (Sanhedrin) confronted Him. Since they were in charge of the temple, they wanted to know who had given Him authority or permission to teach and heal there. He was probably teaching in the large outer court known as the court of the Gentiles.

The Jews wanted to accuse Jesus of blasphemy in order to have grounds to put Him to death. They thought that He would declare Himself to be the Messiah, which would give them this charge.

In His wisdom, Jesus replied with His own question. “The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?”

The Sanhedrin ignored an excellent opportunity to reassess itself and get to the bottom of their quarrel with Jesus. They could have confessed that John was a teacher from God, who taught that Jesus was the Messiah and that He had the proper authority to teach in the temple.

It did not happen. They lied and said, “We do not know.”

Jesus replied, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”


May 18. Jesus Cleanses the Temple—Again

Mt. 21:12-17; Mk. 11:15-19; Lk. 19:45-48

Conditions in the temple were the same as they had been three years earlier when Jesus had attended the first Passover of His ministry. Merchants and moneychangers had returned to supply, for a price, lambs and doves for the offerings.

As He had done before, Jesus drove out all of those who bought and sold in the temple. He also overturned their tables and seats.

Caves in the area were used as hiding places for robbers. Because of the extortion of the traders, Jesus reminded them of prophecies by Isaiah and Jeremiah, “Is it not written ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

The popularity of Christ had reached its peak. While He was teaching in the temple, He healed many blind and lame people.

Meanwhile, things were getting out of hand for the Jewish authorities. They wanted to destroy Jesus, but His popularity was far too great for them at this time.

At the end of the day, Jesus and His disciples returned to the Bethany/Mount of Olives area.


May 17. The Curse of the Barren Fig Tree

Mt. 21:18-22; Mk. 11:12-14; Lk. 21:37, 38

On Monday morning as Jesus and the disciples were going back to Jerusalem to teach in the temple, they were hungry. They came to a fig tree full of leaves, but it had no fruit. Jesus said, “Let no fruit grow on you again.” The tree immediately died.


May 16. Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:29-44; Jn. 12:12-19

The next day (Sunday) after Mary had anointed Jesus for His burial, He and the disciples were in Bethphage. He sent two of them to get a colt for Him to ride into Jerusalem. This was to be a colt on which no one had ridden. If anyone objected to their taking it, they were to say that the Lord had need of it and permission would be granted. After returning with the colt, the disciples laid their clothes on him to make a saddle for Jesus.

As Jesus began to ride into Jerusalem, great multitudes followed and others met Him on the road. It has been estimated that as many as three million people sometimes attended the Passover. People were spreading their clothes and palm branches on the road in front of Him as He traveled.

Palm branches signified triumph and victory and the people were crying out praises to the “King of Israel.” They felt in their hearts and minds that Jesus, the Christ was their king and that He would deliver them from the Romans.

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on the colt fulfilled a prophecy of Zechariah which stated, “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, He began to weep over the condition of the city. He revealed that because of their wickedness, the city and its people would be destroyed.

After entering the city and temple, Jesus looked around at all things. The day had been long and emotional and the hour was late, so He and the apostles returned to Bethany, which was located on the Mount of Olives, to spend the night.


May 15. Mary Anoints Jesus for Burial

Mt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Jn. 11:55-12:11

The Jews remembered that Caiaphas had ordered that Jesus be put to death and that the chief priests and Pharisees had commanded that if anyone knew where He was, they were to report it so He could be arrested. As they prepared for the Passover, the big question on their minds was, “What do you think—that He will not come to the feast?”

Bethany was a town a mile or two outside of Jerusalem. It was here that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead several weeks earlier. When He arrived, He and the disciples went to the house of Simon the tanner. His dear friends, Lazarus, Mary and Martha were there and Martha served while they ate.

While they were eating, Mary brought a pound alabaster flask of oil of spikenard and poured it on Jesus’ head and feet. This was an expensive fragrant perfume mixed with oil and worth about three hundred denarii or more (nearly a year’s wages). She then wiped His feet with her hair.

Judas and some of the other apostles thought it was a waste of money because this could have been sold and given to the poor. Since Judas was a thief and had been taking from the money box, which he carried, this “waste” particularly outraged him.

Jesus praised Mary’s action. He said that they would have the poor with them always, but that they would not have Him always. They could take care of the poor after He was gone. Mary had looked at the spiritual side of life and had done it for His burial. They would have done the same thing for Him if He had been dead, but she did it for Him while He was still alive. “Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Many of the local Jews came to the place where Jesus was to see Lazarus because of his being raised from the dead. The chief priests then plotted to have him put to death also, since many of the Jews believed in Jesus because of him.


May 14. Parable of the Nobleman

Lk. 19:11-28

While still in the home of Zacchaeus, Jesus taught a parable about His kingdom. Many were expecting Him to be crowned king upon His return to Jerusalem, so He needed to change their expectations.

A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and return. As the nobleman was leaving, he gave ten of his servants each a mina, worth about three month’s wages. These servants were to use their minas to, “Do business till I come.”

The nobleman represented Jesus, who was going back to heaven to receive His church at the end of time. At the judgment, each Christian will be required to give an account of the way he has used his talents and abilities during his lifetime. Those who were diligent in their labors will be rewarded and those who were neglectful will be punished. We need to remember that everything we have belongs to God and we are only stewards while we possess it. Our salvation cannot be earned, but our faith is evident by our works.

After finishing this parable, Jesus left the home of Zacchaeus and continued toward Jerusalem.


May 13. Zacchaeus Finds Salvation

Lk. 19:1-10

After passing through Jericho, Jesus and the apostles pressed forward toward Jerusalem, which was about seventeen miles away. Among the great multitude of travelers was a chief tax collector named Zacchaeus, who wanted to see Jesus.

There were in that area wild fig trees called sycamores. Since these trees had low limbs, Zacchaeus, being a very short man, ran ahead and climbed up into one for a better chance of seeing Jesus.

This was a great day for Zacchaeus. Not only did he get to see the Messiah, he even entertained Him in his home.

Jesus had a nobler mission than to just eat with a sinner. Upon his conversion, the tax collector showed fruits of his repentance by paying restitution to those whom he had cheated. Jesus stated His mission on earth. “Today salvation has come to this house… for the son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”


May 12. Jesus Restores Sight to Bartimaeus and his Friend

Mt. 20:29-34; Mk. 10:46-52; Lk. 18:35-43

About a week before the Passover, Jesus was passing through Jericho. There were many other people traveling at the same time in order to get to Jerusalem early to purify themselves for the Passover observance.

During the time of Christ, Palestine was a place of extreme poverty. Many sat in the streets and begged for help among a group of people who were also poor.

Two beggars, who were blind learned that Jesus was near and in faith called out to Him, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

Even though the crowd warned them to be quiet, they continued calling out to Jesus. He heard their cries and when they asked for their sight to be restored, He healed them.

These men did not return to their begging. Instead, they followed Jesus. When a person becomes a Christian, he must not return to his old life, but continue to follow Christ.