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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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