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The Journeys of Jesus:
A Study of the Synoptic Gospels
Table of Contents
I. The Harmony of the Gospels ......................................................................................... 3 II. A Political View - The Jews under Rome ...................................................................... 5 Family Tree of Herod.............................................................................................. 7 III. A Geographical View of Palestine ............................................................................... 8 IV. The Life of Jesus the Messiah ..................................................................................... 9 A. Birth and Early Childhood of Jesus............................................................................ 9 Travelogue:............................................................................................................. 9 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 10 The Harmony of the Gospels – Part One ................................................................. 12 B. John the Baptist Prepares the Lord’s Way............................................................... 13 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 13 Harmony of the Gospels – Part Two ........................................................................ 15 C. Early Judean Ministry ............................................................................................. 16 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 16 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 21 Harmony of the Gospels – Part Three...................................................................... 24 D. Galilean Ministry ...................................................................................................... 25 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 25 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 28 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 29 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 34 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 36 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 39 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 41 Harmony of the Gospels – Part Four........................................................................ 43 E. Last Judean and Perean Ministry of Jesus ............................................................. 45 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 45 Harmony of the Gospels – Part Five ........................................................................ 48 F. The Last Week ......................................................................................................... 50 Travelogue:........................................................................................................... 50 Harmony of the Gospels – Part Six .......................................................................... 53 G. The Resurrection Through the Ascension .............................................................. 55 Harmony of the Gospels – Part Seven ..................................................................... 55
The Journeys of Jesus
I. The Harmony of the Gospels
Often when reading the Gospels we are confused as to where and when certain events in the life of Jesus took place. In order to help us look at these events, we will study them chronologically. You might say, we will be studying the events in the life of Jesus according to His travels---a travelogue, not a biography. As a tool to this study, we will use the HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS. In the HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS each book focuses on a unique facet of Jesus and his character. It presents four portraits of Jesus, each in its own characteristic manner. As we journey with Jesus throughout Palestine, we will be using mostly the Gospels of Matthew and Mark since two of our other SALT books are the Gospels of Luke and John. Though each Gospel was written to stand on its own merits, the four Gospels may be worked together into a harmony, or single account, of Jesus’ life. Thus, the harmony of the four Gospels is a single chronological account of the Messiah’s life on earth. It includes every chapter and verse of each Gospel, leaving nothing out. In addition, if you are looking for a particular event in the life of Jesus, the harmony can help you locate it more rapidly than paging through all four Gospels. The HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS is written throughout this book and will help you to better visualize the travels of Jesus, study the four Gospels comparatively, and appreciate the unity of the writers’ message. Before we begin our study, let us compare the four Gospels. Together, Matthew, Mark and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels. The term Synoptic Gospels means “seen together” or “viewed from a common perspective.” The first three Gospels are so designated because they present the life and ministry of Jesus from a common point of view that is different from that of the Gospel of John. In general, the Synoptics follow the same outline and record similar material. Sometimes their accounts are almost identical, but at other times important differences are observed. The Apostle John wrote: o to supplement the Synoptics o to provide a theological/philosophical interpretation of the Person and work of Jesus especially well-suited for a Greek audience. Note the following key differences between the Synoptic Gospels and John:
o John’s content is ninety-two percent unique. Therefore, there is a material difference. John has more discourse than narrative and is more philosophical in tone than the Synoptics. o John has few parables and nothing about the demonic. He speaks much on eternal life, the Holy Spirit and the deity of Jesus. Therefore, a theological difference is emphasized.
o John emphasizes events in Judea (south), while the Synoptics focus on what happens in Galilee (north). Therefore, there is a geographical difference. John emphasizes Jesus’ ministry in the city to religious intellectuals, while the Synoptics emphasize His country ministry to the common people. o John alone records for us three or four Passovers. He provides our only information concerning the approximate length of Jesus’ public ministry (probably three and one-half years.) Therefore, there is a chronological difference. o John builds his Gospel on seven key miracles, and is more thematic in arrangement than are the Synoptics. Therefore, there is a structural difference. Let us look at the chart below to compare the first four Gospels: Matthew
Jesus is…. The original readers were… Significant themes… The promised King Jews
The Servant of God Gentiles, Romans Jesus backed up his words with action.
The Son of Man Greeks
The Son of God Believers throughout the world Belief in Jesus is required for salvation.
Character of the writer….
Jesus is the Messiah because he fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Once a Tax Collector, now a Teacher Jesus’ sermons and words
Jesus was God but also human.
Greatest emphasis is on ….. Probable date Place of writing… Geography…
Traveling companion of Paul and Peter, Storyteller Jesus’ miracles and actions
Physician Missionary Historian Jesus’ humanity
A.D. 58 –68 A.D. 55 - 65 A.D. 60 - 68 Syria, Antioch Rome Rome/Greece or Palestine Concentrates on Galilean Ministry
Once a Fisherman, now a Theologian The principles of Jesus’ teaching A.D. 80 - 90 Ephesus Concentrates on Judean Ministry
Discourse Material Teaching Emphasis Teaching Method
More public More on ethical, practical teachings
More private More on the person of the Messiah Signs
All four Gospels build upon genuine historical tradition and preserve different aspects of it. The basic purpose of the Gospels is to present the gospel message, the Good News of the Redeemer-Savior. They present Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world. The Gospels were written so that their readers would come to believe in Jesus and receive eternal life (John 20:31). They view JESUS as the LORD OF GLORY who is presently alive and active in heaven. As we begin our study of the journeys of Jesus, we will be studying some political, religious and geographical information.
II. A Political View - The Jews under Rome
HEROD THE GREAT (ruled 37–4 B.C.) Before and during the time of Jesus, Palestine was ruled by Rome through the Herodian dynasty. Antipater, the first Herod was of Idumean descent. The Idumeans were of Edomite blood and descendants of Esau. Julius Caesar, the emperor of Rome, installed Antipater as ruler of Judea in 47 B.C. Antipater appointed two of his sons to ruling positions. One of these was Herod, known as “Herod the Great,” who was appointed governor of Judea. The title “Herod the Great” refers not so much to Herod’s greatness as to the fact that he was the eldest son of Antipater. Nevertheless, Herod did show some unusual abilities. He was a ruthless fighter, a cunning negotiator and a subtle diplomat. The Romans appreciated the way he subdued opposition and maintained order among the Jewish people. These qualities, combined with an intense loyalty to the emperor, made him an important figure in the life of Rome and the Jews of Palestine. After Herod became governor of Galilee, he quickly established himself in the entire region. For 33 years, he remained a loyal friend and ally of Rome. He was appointed as king of Judea (Rome labeled him “King of Kings”), where he was in direct control of the Jewish people. This required careful diplomacy because he was always suspect by the Jews as an outsider (an Edomite) and thus a threat to their national right to rule. Herod broke many of the Jewish laws. He introduced Greek-style games and races to his kingdom and ordered many large building projects. Among these were Greek temples, forts and a palace. His greatest project was a new temple in
Jerusalem, which he began in 20 B.C. and was finished 64 A.D. (Matthew 4:5, 24; Mark 11:27 and 13:1). In 27 B.C., Octavian took the title Augustus and founded the Roman Empire. Augustus Caesar brought peace to the Roman Empire through strict control of his army and land. He created the image of Rome’s golden age. (Jesus was born during the rule of Augustus, who died in A.D. 14.) In 22 B.C., Herod sent his children to Rome to be educated and pay respect to Augustus. Augustus visited Syria in 20 B.C. and gave Herod even more land. Fearing revolt, Herod banned large public gatherings during the visit. Herod had to deal with the power of Greek-influenced officials in Asia, as well as the power of Augustus in Rome. Herod’s other problem was the discontent of Jewish sects and parties. He remembered how the Maccabees had driven Greek sympathizers from their temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. He determined to prevent this kind of revolution. Judaism was the only religion to survive the strong influence of Greek ways. Through the translation of the Old Testament into Greek, Judaism actually increased its influence during the Greek Age. However, Judaism’s popularity attracted Herod’s envy. Though he was not of Jewish birth, he spent large sums of money on the new temple in hopes of winning the Jews’ loyalty. As Herod became increasingly ill, an intense struggle for succession to his throne emerged within the family. His 10 marriages and 15 children virtually guaranteed such a struggle. One son, Antipater, poisoned Herod’s mind against two other eligible sons, Archelaus and Philip. This resulted in Herod’s initial choice of a younger son, Antipas, as sole successor. However, he later changed his will and made Archelaus king. Antipas and Philip received lesser positions as TETRARCHS, or rulers, over small territories. JESUS the Messiah was born in Bethlehem during the reign of Herod the Great (around 4 B.C.). As Herod neared his seventieth year, he became obsessed with destroying all but his chosen heir. Shortly before his death, he heard the disturbing news that THE LONG-AWAITED KING OF ISRAEL had been born in Bethlehem. Herod ordered his soldiers to kill all newborn infants of the Jews, much as he had murdered rivals in his own family (Matthew 2). The wise men came asking, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews”( Matthew 2:2)? This aroused Herod’s jealous spirit. According to Matthew’s account, Herod tried to eliminate Jesus by having all the male infants of the Bethlehem region put to death (Matthew 2:13–16). However, this despicable act failed. Joseph and Mary were warned by God in a dream to take their child and flee to Egypt. There they hid safely until Herod died (Matthew 2:13–15). After Herod died, his will was contested in Rome. Finally, ARCHELAUS was made ruler over Idumea, Judea and Samaria—with a promise to be appointed king if he proved himself worthy as a leader. ANTIPAS became tetrarch over Galilee and Perea. PHILIP was made tetrarch over Iturea andTrachonitis in the northern regions.
Archelaus’ younger brother ANTIPAS was tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39. Herod Antipas had John the Baptist beheaded and is often mentioned in the Gospels. Herod Antipas feared that Jesus was John the Baptist resurrected (Matthew 14:1– 2 and Mark 6:14–16). Some Pharisees warned Jesus to flee the region because Antipas was plotting against Him (Luke 13:31–33). Herod Antipas scornfully tried Jesus prior to His crucifixion, and then he turned the whole matter over to Pontius Pilate (Luke 23:6–12). The chart below shows the descendants of Herod the Great. FAMILY TREE OF HEROD
Herod the Great (Edomite, a descendant of Esau) (died 4 B.C.) Son of Doris Sons of Mariamne Sons of Malthace, a Samaritan Son of Cleopatra Son of Mariamne of Simon
Antipater (died 4 B.C.)
Aristobulus (died 7 B.C.)
Alexander (died 7 B.C.)
Herod Antipas (died 39 A.D.)
Archelaus (died 6 A.D.)
Herod Philip II “Tetrarch” (died 34 A.D.)
Herod Philip I [first husband of Herodias] (died 34 A.D.)
Herod Of Chalcs (died 48 A.D.)
Herodias (mistress of Herod Antipas)
Herod Agrippa I (died 44 A.D.)
Herod Agrippa II (died 100 A.D.)
Drusillia (married to Felix)
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
What is the HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS? What books are in the Synoptic Gospels? What are the two reasons for John writing his gospel? List 5 ways that the Gospel of John is different from the Synoptic gospels? How is Jesus seen in each Gospel? What was Jesus’ teaching emphasis and teaching method in the Synoptic gospels and in the Gospel of John? 7. Who was Herod the Great’s ancestor? What does this mean concerning his ancestry and his position as King of the Jews? 8. Who founded the Roman Empire? When was it founded? 9. Which Roman emperor had a close relationship with Herod the Great? 10. Which Herod had John the Baptist killed? 11. Which Herod had Paul killed? 12. Which Herod killed Jesus? 7
III. A Geographical View of Palestine
As we study the JOURNEYS OF JESUS, we will be writing locations, geographical places and political areas on the map below. We will discover where Jesus spent most of His time in ministry and to whom He ministered. [As you teach others, you will want to copy and hand out Appendices A-1, A-2, B and C.]
IV. The Life of Jesus the Messiah
A. Birth and Early Childhood of Jesus Use Appendix A-1 and A-2 to help fill in the locations.
TRAVELOGUE: JESUS, who was born in Palestine, lived in a Jewish society that was guided by the Old Testament and under the influence of the Pharisaic interpretation of the Law. The Jews of Jesus’ day lived in expectation of great events. They were oppressed by Rome, but were strongly convinced that the Messiah would soon come. Various groups pictured the Messiah differently, but hardly a Jew of that day lived without hope in some form. Some in the nation had true faith and looked for the coming of a Messiah who would be their spiritual Savior—Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Joseph and Mary (Luke 1:2 and Matthew 1:18). To such faithful hearts came the first stirrings of the Spirit, preparing them for the birth of God’s true Messiah---Jesus (Luke 2:27, 36). About the year 6 B.C., toward the end of Herod’s reign in Israel, the priest Zechariah was officiating in the temple in Jerusalem. He was burning incense at 9
the altar during the evening prayer. An angel appeared to him and announced the coming birth of his first child, a son. This child would prepare the way for the Messiah. The spirit and power of Elijah would rest upon him (Luke 3:3–6). His parents were to call him John. Zechariah was a truly godly man but it was difficult for him to believe what he heard. Consequently, he was struck dumb until Elizabeth (his wife) gave birth. The child was born, circumcised and named according to the directions of God. Then Zechariah regained his voice and praised the Lord. This hymn of praise is called the Benedictus (Luke 1:5–25, 27–80). Three months before the birth of John, the same angel (Gabriel) appeared to Mary at Nazareth. This young woman was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1). The angel told Mary she would conceive a child by the Holy Spirit, and that she would name the child Jesus. Mary learned, to her amazement, that although she was a virgin she would have a child who was the very Son of God and the Savior of His people (Matthew 1:21). Yet she accepted this message with great meekness, glad to be living in God’s will (Luke 1:38). Gabriel also told her that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant. Mary quickly went to share their mutual joy. When these two godly women met, Elizabeth greeted Mary as the mother of her Lord (Luke 1:39–45). Mary also broke forth in a song of praise (Luke 1:46–56). She stayed three months with Elizabeth before returning home. Joseph, Mary’s betrothed husband, was utterly shocked at what appeared to be the fruit of terrible sin on Mary’s part (Matthew 1:19). He decided to put her away quietly. Then an angel (in a dream) explained the situation to him. He directed Joseph to marry his intended wife as previously planned. Jesus was born in Bethlehem where the newlyweds had been summoned by the command of the emperor, Augustus Caesar (Luke 2:1). Thus the prophecy of Micah 5:2 was fulfilled. A TOWN IN PALESTINE: BETHLEHEM. This “City of David,” earlier named Ephrath (Genesis 35:15), lies a few kilometers south of Jerusalem. It was home to David’s ancestors and the prophesied place of the Messiah’s birth (Micah 5:2). When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He was found and worshiped by shepherds and wise men (Matthew 2:1–12). TRAVELOGUE: From everywhere in the empire, Jews had to return to their ancestral cities to be registered so that they might be taxed. This census was taken while Cyrenius (Quirinius) was governor of Syria for the first time. Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were unable to find any housing except a stable (perhaps a cave used to house cattle). There the eternal Son of
God was born. He was wrapped in baby clothes and laid in a manger. Soon after His birth, shepherds came to see the child. Angels had announced His birth to them while they were tending their flocks. Otherwise, mankind had not noticed this event. We know of five events in the childhood of Jesus. • First - In accordance with Jewish Law, He was circumcised and named on the eighth day (Luke 2:21). It is significant that the sinless Son of God would undergo this ritual binding Him to obedience under the divine covenant and identifying Him with God’s people, Israel. Second - Jesus was presented at the temple to prove the circumcision. He was also “redeemed” by the payment of five shekels. For her purification, Mary gave the offering of the poor (Leviticus 12:8; Luke 2:24). The mission of Jesus was witnessed at this time by two godly individuals, Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25–38). Third - Sometime later a group of “wise men” (perhaps Babylonian priests and astrologers) appeared in Jerusalem [#2 on map below], inquiring about the birth of a “King of the Jews.” They had seen His star in the sky (Matthew 2:2). Ruthless Herod was immediately alarmed. Having learned from the scribes where the prophecy said that the Messiah was to be born, Herod the Great sent the wise men to Bethlehem. He asked them to return if they found the Messiah there. Herod claimed that he, too, wanted to worship Him. Actually, he wanted to locate the Messiah so he could kill yet another rival. However, an angel told the wise men not to go back to Herod. Before they arrived in Bethlehem, the star reappeared and stood over the place Jesus and His parents now lived (Matthew 2:9). Fourth - After the departure of the wise men, God directed Joseph to flee to Egypt [#5 on map] with his family (Matthew 2:13–15). Herod had ordered the execution of all infants aged two and younger who lived in and around Bethlehem. Soon, Herod died and God instructed Joseph to return to Nazareth [#7 on map]. • The fifth event was Jesus’ trip with his parents to the temple when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41–52). During the Passover, He probably was introduced into the court of the men by being presented to the religious leaders. Unlike His peers, Jesus returned to the temple and continued discussion with the religious teachers (rabbis). He was so engrossed that He did not know His family had departed for home. Amid the confusion of the large group of people
with whom they had traveled, His parents were not immediately aware of His absence. When they discovered He was not with them, they returned to Jerusalem and found Him in the temple. When they asked Jesus why He had remained behind, He told them that this was His Father’s house and He was about His Father’s business. Scripture says that as a youth Jesus “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
A TOWN IN PALESTINE: NAZARETH- The home of Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:39). Nazareth was a Galilean town within the territory of Zebulun. In Bible times, the city lay close to several main trade routes, which gave it easy contacts with the outside world. At the same time, its position as a frontier town on the border of Zebulun fostered a certain detachment from the rest of Israel. For this reason, strict Jews scorned the people of Nazareth (John 1:46).
1. About what year did Zechariah officiate in the temple when he saw the angel? 2. What is special about Bethlehem? 3. Who was ruling Syria when everyone had to return home for the census? What year was that? 4. Name five events in the childhood of Jesus? 5. What is special about Nazareth and where is it located? THE HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS – PART ONE
The Birth and Early Childhood of Jesus
Announcement of the birth of John Announcement of the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Song of Elizabeth to Mary Mary’s Song of Praise Birth, Infancy, and Purpose of John the Baptist Announcement of Jesus’ Birth to Joseph Birth of Jesus
Location Jerusalem (Temple) Nazareth
Luke 1:5-25 1:26-38
Related References Numbers 6:3 Isaiah 7:14
7 or 6 B.C.
Hill Country of Judea
1:46-56 Judea Nazareth Bethlehem 1:18-25 1:24,25 2:1-7 1:57-80
Psalm 103:17 Malachi 3:1 Isaiah 9:6,7 Isaiah 7:14
Proclamation by the Angels Visit by Shepherds Jesus’ Circumcision First Temple Visit with Acknowledgment by Simeon and Anna Visit of the Wise Men Flight to Egypt and Massacre of the Innocents From Egypt to Nazareth with Jesus Childhood of Jesus Jesus, 12 years old, visits the Temple 18 year Account of Jesus’ Adolescence and Adulthood
Near Bethlehem Bethlehem Bethlehem Jerusalem
2:8-14 2:15-20 2:21 2:22-38
1Timothy 3:16 Leviticus 12:3 Exodus 13:2 Leviticus 12
Jerusalem, Bethlehem Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Egypt
Numbers 24:17 Jeremiah 31:15 2:39 2:40-51 2:41-50 2:51,52 Deuteronomy 16:1-8 1 Samuel 2:26
2:19-23 Nazareth Jerusalem Nazareth
Afterward A.D. 7-8
B. John the Baptist Prepares the Lord’s Way TRAVELOGUE: John the Baptist, Elizabeth’s son and Jesus’ cousin, was to prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus. John grows up in the Judean desert [#3 on map] (Luke 1:5-25). In his early thirties, John is called out of the desert. The conviction that God was about to begin a new work among His unprepared people broke upon John with the force of a desert storm. He was called to put on the prophet’s hairy mantle with the resolve and urgency of Elijah himself.
Not only did he dress like Elijah - in camel’s hair and leather belt (2 Kings 1:8; Mark 1:6) - he understood his ministry to be one of reform and preparation, just as Elijah did (Luke 1:17). According to the popular belief of the time, Elijah would return from heaven to prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 4:5–6). John reminded the people of Elijah because of his 13
dress and behavior (Matthew 11:14 and Mark 9:12–13). He began his ministry in the Jordan Valley [#4 on map]. He was known as the “Baptist” because he preached to his fellow Jews that they should repent and be baptized. His disciples were taught to pray, fast, share their food and clothes with the poor, and to drink no wine (Luke 3:1-17). John’s baptism was a washing, symbolizing moral regeneration, administered to each candidate only once. He criticized the people for presuming to be righteous and secure with God because they were children of Abraham (Matthew 3:9). John “laid an ax to the root” of this presumption. He warned that they, the Jews, would be purged and rejected unless they demonstrated fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:7–12). Although John cannot easily be identified with any of the Jewish sects, his role as a prophet is clear (Luke 7:24–28). John’s effort at moral reform, symbolized by baptism, was his way of preparing Israel to meet God. He began his preaching with the words, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for Him” (Mark 1:3). He had a burning awareness of One who was to come after Him who would baptize in fire and Spirit (Mark 1:7–8). John was a forerunner of this mightier One, a herald of the Messianic hope that would come in Jesus. John was a forerunner of Jesus not only in his ministry and message (Matthew 3:1; 4:17) but also in his death. Not until John’s arrest did Jesus begin His ministry (Mark 1:14), and John’s execution foreshadowed Jesus’ similar fate. The Jewish authorities east of the Jordan questioned John [#5 on map above]. John said that he was not the Messiah, but the Messiah’s announcer (John 1:1928). John then baptized Jesus (Matthew 3:23-17). He said that Jesus is the “Lamb of God.” Afterward, some of John’s disciples followed Jesus (John 1:2942). Imprisoned by Herod Antipas in the fortress of Machaerus on the lonely hills east of the Dead Sea, John must have grown disillusioned by his own failure and the developing failure he sensed in Jesus’ mission. He sent messengers to ask Jesus, “Are You the One who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). John was eventually killed by Herod Antipas who allowed himself to be swayed by a scheming wife, her daughter, and the people around him (Mark 6:14–29). Jesus said of John, “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). He was the last and greatest of the prophets (Matthew 11:13–14). Nevertheless, he stood, like Moses, on the threshold of the Promised Land. He did not enter the kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus. Consequently, “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).
SOME TOWNS IN PALESTINE:
BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN – A village in TRANSJORDAN where John the Baptist was baptizing. In John 1:28, it is the place where Jesus was baptized by John. The Transjordan is a large plateau east of the Jordan River, the Dead Sea and the Arabah. (Genesis 50:10–11; Deuteronomy 3:20, Judges 5:17, Isaiah 9:1, Matthew 4:15 and Mark 3:8). It was probably an obscure village and in time its name faded out and was replaced by the larger and more important Bethabara. MACHAERUS [ma kay rus] — the place where JOHN THE BAPTIST was apparently imprisoned and put to death, according to the Jewish historian, Josephus (Mark 6:17-29).
1. 2. 3. 4.
Where is the Judean desert located? How did John the Baptist dress? How was he like Elijah? Where did John begin his ministry? Why was John baptizing people? What did the baptism signify? How many times did he baptize a person? 5. Where was John imprisoned? How did he feel during his imprisonment? Why did he send men to Jesus to question Him? 6. Why is John the Baptist called the “least in the Kingdom of God”? 7. Where is “Bethany Beyond the River” located and what is its significance? Harmony of the Gospels – PART TWO
Truths About John the Baptist Date A.D. 25-27 Event John’s Ministry Begins Man and Message His Picture of Jesus His Courage Location Judean Wilderness Matthew 3:1 Mark 1:1-4 Luke 3:1,2 John 1:19-28 Related References Malachi 3:1
3:3-14 3:15-18 1:26,27
Isaiah 40:3 Acts 2:38
C. Early Judean Ministry TRAVELOGUE: Write in the places and geographical locations from Appendix A-1, A-2. When Jesus was about 30, He leaves Nazareth and goes to Bethany Beyond the Jordan to be BAPTIZED BY JOHN. However, He repented of no sin, for He had none. He identified with sinners in order to be their sin-bearer. To John and Jesus, repentance means more than simply accepting the yoke of the Law, which was the current view of Judaism. Rather, it involves both an acknowledgement of sin and an ethical change in conduct for all men—even those of Jewish descent, who could claim to be children of Abraham (John 3:9). John’s baptism in water constitutes the outward sign of true repentance (John 3:6). “Repentance” (metanoia, Greek) means “to turn” from sin to God (2 Corinthians 7:10). When Jesus came up from the water, the Holy Spirit visibly descended upon Him in the form of a dove. At least Jesus and John (and perhaps the onlookers as well) heard the voice of God stating His approval of Jesus [Matthew 3:13–17 and Mark 1:9–11]. In John 3:16, 17, The Trinity is seen in – o the presence of the Father in the audible blessing and assurance o the submission of the Son to baptism o the Spirit’s anointing of the Son for His role as Messiah. The voice from heaven (John 3:17) alludes to Psalm 2:7, the coronation formula for the messianic King of Israel, and to Isaiah 42:1, the ordination formula for Isaiah’s Servant of the Lord. The passages combined indicate that Jesus’ mission as the kingly Messiah would be realized in terms of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12). Jesus did not become the Son of God at His baptism, for He was from the beginning (John 1:1–18, Colossians 1:13–20 and Hebrews 1:1–3). The divine voice only ratified and publicly proclaimed an already existing Sonship. This confirmed both His message and task, for His kingdom is one of teaching, healing, humility and sacrifice ( Matthew 8:17, 12:18–21, 20:28).
The Holy Spirit at once led Jesus into the wilderness to face temptation by the devil (Matthew 4:1–11 and Mark 1:12–13). Jesus was alone with His Father and the Holy Spirit while He fasted. In John 4:1, the “TEMPTATION OF JESUS” is closely related to His work as Messiah. Would He succumb to the false messianic ideals of contemporary Judaism, or choose God’s way of the Suffering Servant? The temptations were real, whether external and literal, internal and mental, or a combination of both. He did not pretend to be tempted. By resisting the temptation to sin, Jesus demonstrated His qualifications to be God’s Messiah and humanity’s Sin-Bearer. However, the devil was also there, tempting Him to o satisfy His own hunger, thereby demonstrating distrust of the Father o seize dominion of the world before the Father gave it to Him o test God to see if He would save Jesus from self-indulged danger, thereby indulging His own self-will. Throughout His ministry, Jesus will meet the temptations of satan. Some of these temptations are summarized here o when the crowds want only a healer (Mark 1:35–39) o when the crowds want to make Him King (John 6:14, 15) o when His disciples reject the Suffering Servant Messiah (John 16:21–28) o when He is in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–46) “The devil” [Greek – diabolos] means “slanderer.” By use of the definite article, Matthew identifies him as a real person, not just an evil influence (Ezekiel 28:12).
TRADITIONAL SITE OF THE TEMPTATION- An old Greek Orthodox monastery clings to the cliff on Jebel Quarantal, the traditional Mountain of the Temptation west of Jericho. “Qarantal” is an Arabic corruption of the Latin word quarantana—“40 days”—in memory of Jesus’ 40-day fast during His temptation (Matthew 4:1–11). Look at your map above to see the location of the Temptation.
Only the Gospel of John describes the EARLY JUDEAN period of Jesus’ life. John first recounts the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. John the Baptist told delegates from the highest religious authorities that he was not the Messiah, though indicating that the Messiah was present (John 1:19–27). The next day, seeing Jesus approaching he pointed Him out as the Messiah (John 1:30–34). He said, “Behold the Lamb of God ...,” implying that his own disciples should follow Jesus (John 1:35–37). Jesus began to gather disciples to Himself (John 1:38–51). As a result of John the Baptist’s testimony, John and Andrew turned to Him. Peter became a follower as a result of his brother Andrew’s testimony. The fourth follower, Philip, immediately obeyed Jesus’ summons to Him. Philip brought Nathanael (Bartholomew) to
Jesus. When Jesus demonstrated that He knew Nathaniel’s inner thoughts, he was amazed and then joined the group.
SOME OF THE EARLY DISCIPLES: ANDREW – was a native of Bethsaida on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44). During the ministry of Jesus, he, like his brother Simon Peter, worked as a fisherman out of Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29). They worked as partners with James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Luke 5:10). Andrew is best known for his ministry of bringing men to Jesus. When John the Baptist first proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God, Andrew left John and at once found Simon. Then they both followed Jesus. When Greek proselytes sought Jesus, Andrew [with Philip] arranged the meeting (John 12:20–22). Though Andrew was present on the Day of Pentecost and involved in the ministry of the early church, nothing is known of his specific ministry. All lists of the disciples name Andrew among the first four (Matthew 10:2–4, Mark 3:16–19 and Acts 1:13). According to tradition, Andrew was martyred at Patrae in Achaia by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross. According to Eusebius, Andrew’s field of labor was Scythia (Southern Russia and Ukraine ), the region north of the Black Sea. JOHN- was the son of Zebedee (a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee) and of Salome. His brother of James, also an apostle. Peter and James and John come within the innermost circle of their Lord’s friends. However, John has the distinction of being the disciple whom Jesus loved. As you read through the Gospels and Acts, you can see all we know about John the Apostle. However, his subsequent history we know only by tradition. There can be no doubt that he moved from Jerusalem and settled at Ephesus, though at which time is uncertain. Tradition relates that in the persecution under Emperor Domitian, he is taken to Rome. Then he is sent then to labor in the mines in Patmos, the place of his exile. The accession to the throne in Rome of Emperor Trajan frees him from danger. He then returns to Ephesus. Heresies continue to show themselves, but he meets them with the strongest possible protest. The time of his death is not know exactly, and the dates that have been assigned for it range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120. PETER- was originally named Simon. Jesus named him “Rock” meaning “a detached stone or boulder” (Greek - Petros; Aramaic - Cephas). Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen from Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44) who later worked out of Capernaum (Mark 1:29). Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, immediately began to follow Jesus on the day John announced Him. At once, he introduced Simon to Jesus (John 1:35–42). Peter’s devotion to Jesus brought him within the innermost circle of disciples. Peter shared in the greatest moments of Jesus’ ministry. Peter was always listed first among the Twelve. Yet, Peter’s devotion was at times an impulsive one. Peter’s faith in Jesus’ command
allowed him to walk on water. Then, after he had walked, his disbelief caused him to sink (14:28–31)! Peter’s sensitivity to God’s witness prompted his great confession that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Three events during Jesus’ earthly ministry were significant to Peter’s life and future ministry: o his confession concerning Jesus at Caesarea Philippi o his involvement at Jesus’ transfiguration o his threefold denial of the Messiah before the Crucifixion After the ascension of Jesus, Peter continues as the leader. He opens the door of the gospel to the Jews (Acts 2), to the Samaritans (Acts 8:14–17), and to the Gentiles (Acts 10; 11:1, 18; 15:7, 14). However, his ministry in the early church remained primarily to the Jews (Galatians 2:9 and 1 Peter 1:1). PHILIP- Jesus first met Philip at Bethany beyond the Jordan (John 1:28). It is interesting to note that Jesus called Philip individually while He called most of the other disciples in pairs. Philip introduced Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:45–51). Jesus also called Nathanael (or Nathanael Bartholomew) to be His disciple. When 5,000 people gathered to hear Jesus, Philip asked his Lord how they would feed the crowd. “Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:7) On another occasion, a group of Greek men came to Philip and asked him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip enlisted the help of Andrew and together they took the men to meet Him (John 12:20–22). While the disciples ate their last meal with Jesus, Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (John 14:8). Jesus responded that they had already seen the Father in Him. These three brief glimpses are all that we see of Philip in the Gospels. The church has preserved many traditions about his later ministry and death. Some say that he preached in France. Others say he preached in southern Russia, Asia Minor or even India. In A.D. 194, Bishop Polycrates of Antioch wrote that, “Philip, one of the twelve apostles, sleeps at Hierapolis (Egypt).” However, we have no firm evidence to support these claims. NATHANAEL- (God has given) — a native of Cana in Galilee (John 21:2) who became a disciple of Jesus (John 1:45–49). His friend Philip, who claimed Jesus was the MESSIAH, introduced Nathanael to Jesus. This claim troubled Nathanael. He knew that Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up, was not mentioned in the Old Testament prophecies. He considered Nazareth an insignificant town, hardly the place where one would look to find the Redeemer of Israel. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he asked. Philip
did not argue with him, but simply said, “Come and see.” After Nathanael met Jesus, he acknowledged Him to be the Messiah, calling Him “the Son of God” and “the King of Israel” (John 1:46, 49). Nathanael was one of those privileged to speak face to face with Jesus after His resurrection (John 21:1–14). Some scholars see Nathanael as a type, or symbol, of a true Israelite—“an Israelite indeed” (John 1:47)—who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior by faith. Many scholars believe Nathanael is the same person as BARTHOLOMEW (Matthew 10:3), one of the twelve apostles of the Messiah.
SOME TOWNS IN PALESTINE: CANA (“reeds”) is a village of Galilee where Jesus performed His first miracle of changing water into wine. It is located 16 kilometers northeast of Nazareth (John 2:1, 11; 4:46). CAPERNAUM lay on the northwest shore of Galilee. The exact site has been confirmed in modern times through archaeology. Capernaum is never mentioned in the Old Testament and is found in the New Testament only in the Gospels. Yet, it was a central city in Jesus’ ministry. Most of the time Jesus spent in Galilee was in Capernaum. When Jesus began His public ministry, He made it His home base, partly because of its prominence in Galilee. It housed a tax collector (Matthew 9:9), a high government official (John 4:46), and a centurion with his soldiers (Matthew 8:5–9). It became the home of Peter and Andrew, and probably James and John (Mark 1:29). Jesus performed many miracles in Capernaum including healings of the centurion’s servant, the nobleman’s son, Peter’s mother-in-law and the paralytic. There, he also raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:22-43 and Matthew 9:18 - 26). Later, Jesus condemned the people of Capernaum --- despite His many miracles, they still disbelieved (Matthew 11:23). BETHSAIDA was situated on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida was the hometown of Peter, Andrew and Philip (John 1:44). Peter and Andrew, however, left and lived in Capernaum during Jesus public ministry (Mark 1:29). Though few specific miracles of Jesus are recorded as occurring in Bethsaida (the feeding of the five thousand), apparently many miracles did occur there. Jesus condemns Bethsaida (along with Chorazin and Capernaum) for unbelief despite His many miracles (Matthew 11:20–24). Bethsaida is mentioned only in the Gospels. Neither it nor any other Galilean city, however, has any prominence in the Book of Acts. NAIN (delightful) is a town in southwestern Galilee where Jesus raised a widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:11–17). Nain was about eight kilometers southeast of Nazareth on the northern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon. The present-day Arab village of Nein covers ruins of a much larger town. JERUSALEM is located about 25 kilometers from the Dead Sea to the east and 50 kilometers from the Mediterranean to the west. It is located on several hills at an
elevation of about 800 meters with ravines on all sides except the north. Jerusalem receives frequent mention as the site of many events in the Gospels and Acts. It is the scene of Jesus’ death, resurrection and future return (Zechariah 14:4). In A.D. 70, it was destroyed by the Romans. In A.D. 135, it was rebuilt as a pagan city prohibited to all Jews. Early in the fourth century, Constantine reopened it to Jews and believers and built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Since that time, Jerusalem has been under control by various peoples - Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and Turkish. In 1542, the Turks built the city walls that stand today. In 1917, General Allenby entered the city, and it was placed under British control until 1948. At that time, the city was divided so that the Arabs (Jordan) received the old, walled city and the Jews the western part. Since 1967, the whole city has been under Israeli control. Much archaeological work has been conducted over the last century, and the opportunities have increased since the Israelis gained control in 1967. Excavations are presently under way along the western and southern walls of the temple area. TRAVELOGUE: Jesus soon journeyed to Galilee. At a wedding feast in Cana, He turned water into wine (the first recorded miracle). This act revealed to the disciples His authority over nature. It also showed that Israel was ignorant of its own Messiah. “But among you stands One you do not know,” said John the Baptist (John 1:26). This wedding feast is a picture of the nation: the wine had run out, the people’s supply was emptied, yet their Messiah stood there to help them. The six water pots were used for ceremonial cleansing (Mark 7:3), but the Jewish ceremonies could not help the spiritually bankrupt nation. Israel was without joy (wine is a symbol of joy in the Bible— Psalm 104:15) and without hope. The people had external ceremonies, but they had nothing within to satisfy themselves. After a brief ministry in Capernaum, Jesus and His followers went to Jerusalem for the Passover. There He publicly declared His authority over the worship of men by cleansing the temple. At this time, Jesus first hinted at His own death and resurrection: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:19). One of the Jewish leaders, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, came to Jesus by night to talk with Him about spiritual matters. Their well-known conversation focused on the necessity of being “born again” (John 3). The next six months find Jesus ministering outside Jerusalem, but still in Judea where John the Baptist was also working. Gradually, people began to leave John and follow Jesus. This bothered John the Baptist’s disciples, but not John himself. He no doubt rejoiced to see the Messiah gaining attention (John 3:27–30).
Toward the end of the six months, John the Baptist was thrown into prison because he denounced Herod Antipas for taking the wife of his brother Philip (Matthew 14:3–5). Perhaps John’s imprisonment prompted Jesus to go to Galilee to minister. At any rate, He went there. On the way through Samaria, Jesus goes by “The Road Less Traveled.” Jesus stopped at Jacob’s well and He talked with a Samaritan woman He had met. For Jews in Jesus’ day, the main road to Jerusalem went around Samaria. But, Jesus, intentionally went through Samaria (John 4:4), where He taught His disciples a lesson in cross-cultural communication. Finding a woman at Jacob’s well in Sychar (John 4:5–7), Jesus began a conversation with a woman which quickly turned personal. Before long, the woman was on the verge of conversion. However, Jesus understood that in her culture women lacked authority to make substantive decisions on their own. Those were made by men, often tribally, within clans. In fact, it was unusual for a man, particularly a rabbi, to hold serious conversation with a woman in public, as Jesus was doing. Perhaps that is one reason why the woman left as soon as the disciples showed up (John 4:27–28). However, another reason was so that she could go and tell her family and friends about Jesus (verses 28–30). The woman left her waterpot at the well --- maybe because she was in a hurry. Possibly, she may have left it there to avoid having to carry it around. After all, she clearly intended to return. It was also true that she had been married to, or had lived with or been intimate with, a number of the men in that clan (verses 17–18). Yet, Jesus used this woman to bring the Gospel message to the Samaritans. What does Jesus’ example say about communicating the gospel message today? Many cultures are clannish. Inter- and intra-family relationships have a powerful bearing on how the message will be received. Jesus followed “the less-traveled road” directly into Samaria to bring not just an individual woman, but an entire community to faith. Have you chosen the road less traveled to walk with Jesus into cultures different than your own? Apparently, this woman and some of her countrymen accepted Him as the true Messiah and Savior—a most remarkable thing (John 4:1–42).
PLACES AND PEOPLE IN PALESTINE: SYCHAR (John 4:5 ) • A Samaritan city mentioned only once in the Bible (John 4:5)
• Exact location unknown, though it could be the same as ancient Askar [about 2 kilometers north of Jacob’s well], or possibly Shechem, a city of great historical significance (Genesis 33:18). • Today, some 300 Samaritan descendants live in Nablus, site of ancient Shechem. JACOB’S WELL - Atop Mount Gerizim, excavations have uncovered the foundations of the Samaritan temple that competed with the temple of Jerusalem in New Testament times. Visitors can now see traces of a massive staircase down the mountainside to the city below. Near the bottom of this staircase is the traditional site of “Jacob’s Well” (John 4:1–42). THE SAMARITANS – “Jews Have No Dealings with Samaritans” Hatred between Jews and Samaritans was fierce and long-standing. It dated to the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 A.D. The victorious Assyrians deported 20,000 Israelites, mostly from the upper classes. They replaced them with settlers from Babylon, Syria and several other nations. These foreigners introduced pagan idols and intermarried with the Hebrews, creating an ethnically mixed population (2 Kings 17:24). When the Jews of Judah returned from the Babylonian captivity, they met resistance from the Samaritans as they tried to rebuild the temple, Jerusalem, and the rest of their society. They looked down on their “northern cousins” because of their mixed marriages and idolatrous practices. Soon, both sides had erected permanent walls of bitterness. By Jesus’ day, the hostilities were so severe that the woman at the well was astonished that Jesus would even speak with her. As John explained, “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9). There are countless modern parallels to the Jewish-Samaritan enmity wherever peoples are divided by racial and ethnic barriers. Perhaps that is why the Gospels and Acts provide so many instances of Samaritans coming into contact with the message of Jesus. It is not the person from the radically different culture on the other side of the world that is hardest to love. But, it is the nearby neighbor whose skin color, language, rituals, values, ancestry, history and customs that are different from one’s own. Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. With whom do you have no dealings?
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Where did Jesus go to be baptized by John? Did Jesus have sin in His life? Why then was He baptized? What was the Jewish view of baptism? What was different about John’s baptism? What does “repentance” mean? At the baptism of Jesus, in what three ways is the Trinity seen? What verses tell of Jesus’ mission---the kingly Messiah is the Suffering Servant? 7. When did Jesus become the Son of God? 8. In what three ways was satan tempting Jesus?
9. Where was the Temptation of Jesus located? 10. What Gospel tells of the Early Judean period of Jesus’ life? 11. Who were the men that became disciples of Jesus as a result of the testimony of John the Baptist? 12. Where is Cana and Capernaum located? What is special about these towns? 13. Where did Jesus go after Cana (miracle of water into wine) and Capernaum? Why? Who did He meet there? How long did He minister in Judea? 14. When was John thrown into prison? Why? Where? 15. After John was thrown into prison where did Jesus go? Why? Who did He meet? Why were these people despised by the Jews? 16. In what city was Andrew born? 17. In what city was Nathanael born? 18. What does “Petros” (Greek) mean? 19. What were the three significant events in Peter’s life? 20. Where was the home base of Jesus while He ministered in Galilee? What 3 disciples were from Bethsaida? HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS – PART THREE Early Judean Ministry
Date A.D. 27 Event Jesus Baptized Jesus Tempted Jesus Called First Disciples The First Miracle First stay in Capernaum First Cleansing Of the Temple Received at Jerusalem Teaches Nicodemus about Second Birth Co-ministry with John Leaves for Galilee Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well Returns to Galilee Location Jordan River Wilderness Beyond The Jordan Cana in Galilee (Capernaum is “His” city) Jerusalem Judea Judea Matthew 3:13-17 4:1-11 Mark 1:9-11 1:12,13 Luke 3:21-23 4:1-13 John 1:29-34 4:35-51 2:1-11 2:12 2:13-22 2:23-25 3:1-21 Numbers 21:8,9 Psalm 69:9 Related References Psalm 2:7 Psalm 91:11
Judea Judea Samaria 4:12 1:14 4:14
3:22-30 4:1-4 4:5-42 Joshua 24:32
D. Galilean Ministry
[Above is the Galilean area. Please label the places, geographical locations and political areas. Use map on Appendix A-1 and A-2. Number the cities in sequence of events.] TRAVELOGUE: Jesus’ first stop on His return to Galilee was at Cana where He healed a nobleman’s son. This was His second miracle in Cana. The fervency of the nobleman persuaded Jesus to fulfill his request (John 4:45–54). The key to understanding the significance of Jesus’ second miracle is geography. The nobleman and his dying son lived in Capernaum, the main city of the Galilee region (see Luke 4:31). Jesus was about 32 kilometers away at Cana (where, significantly, His first miracle had taken place - John 2:1–12). That means the nobleman walked 64 kilometers. By foot, it was a two round trip. He implored Jesus to heal his son. However, Jesus merely spoke a word (verse 50), producing results 32 kilometers away, in a world that knew nothing of phones, faxes or modems! IT is no wonder the incident produced faith (verse 53). Jesus was the “overcomer” of distance. In Nazareth, Jesus worshiped in the synagogue on the Sabbath. In Luke 4:16–27, Jesus’ first sermon included surprises. Jesus launched His public ministry with a dramatic FIRST SERMON in the synagogue at Nazareth. Using Isaiah 61:1–2 as His text, He announced that He was the One anointed by the Spirit to preach the gospel (Luke 4:18), the Good News.
Jesus also said that the “year of the Lord’s favor” had come (Luke 4:19), a reference to the Old Testament concept of the Jubilee Year (Leviticus 25:8–19). Every fifty years, the Israelites were to set their slaves free, cancel each other’s debts, and restore lands to their original owners. Apparently, Jesus intended to make a dramatic difference in the lives of people, not only spiritually, but in every area of their life. Jesus’ claims startled the hometown crowd. He reminded His listeners of whom the good news was for: the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives (or prisoners), the blind and the oppressed. At first, the people welcomed these words (Luke 4:22). Perhaps they understood Jesus figuratively to mean them. Soon, they began to question His right to make such claims. “We know this fellow, don’t we?” they asked in effect. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son? …Isn’t He one of us? Can He really be the One to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy?” They doubted His credentials. Jesus rose to the occasion by basically saying--- “I’m especially impressed with the poor widow of Sidon. She reminds Me that God often works outside of Israel. He even works in the lives of women. I am also impressed with Naaman. He reminds me that God works in the lives of Syrian generals. Both cases indicate that prophets like Elijah and Elisha frequently had to go to the nations outside Israel to find people who would respond to God.” Such a radical message disturbed that small-town community. They loved the way that young Jesus read the Bible. However, they were likely also concerned with preserving Jewish orthodoxy. They wanted to reverse the region’s reputation as a seedbed of radicals and “sinners” who were ignorant and/or disrespectful of the Law. Jesus’ words might well have represented a threat to the image they wanted to project to the watching world. Once Jesus’ neighbors realized what He was really saying---that His heroes and models were not always the usual Jewish models----they determined to reject Him. In fact, in their rage they almost killed Him (Luke 4:28–29). The reaction of Jesus’ hometown crowd moves us to ask: Whom are we reaching out to with the news about the Messiah? What issues does Jesus’ gospel address in our times? Are we so like the Nazareth listeners [committed to preserving the status quo] that God has to go around us to accomplish His work? Nothing could be more tragic than Jesus passing through our midst and going on His way. Then Jesus went to Capernaum, which seems to have become His headquarters (Matthew 9:1). Here at the Sea of Galilee, He officially called to travel with Him Peter, Andrew, James and John, who seem to have returned to their homes and occupations. Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum each Sabbath and healed a demoniac there. In Capernaum, He also healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14–15, Mark 1:29–31 and 1 Corinthians 9:5). A crowd of sick folk subsequently gathered, “and laying His hands on each one He healed them” (Luke 4:40).
JESUS—A CITY PREACHER --Matthew 9:35 Popular opinion frequently regards the Bible in general and the ministry of Jesus in particular in rural terms. Perhaps it is the Christmas story, with its references to a donkey, a manger and shepherds. Perhaps, it is the memorable parables, such as the sower and the seed, the wheat and the weeds, and the prodigal son. Perhaps it is because Jesus’ origins were in a small town. Whatever the cause, the popular image of Jesus and His world seems fixed on a rural environment. That is somewhat misleading. Palestine in Jesus’ day was undergoing rapid urban development. Its population [around 2.5 to 3 million people] lived in numerous pre-industrial cities and towns that revolved around Jerusalem, the hub of the region. The Holy City had a population conservatively estimated by modern scholars at between 55,000 and 90,000. (Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, placed the number at 3 million. The Talmud gives an incredible 12 million.) So, as Jesus carried out His ministry, He focused on the urban centers of Palestine (Matthew 9:35; 11:1) and visited Jerusalem at least three times. This brought Him into contact with a greater number and wider variety of people than He would have encountered in a purely rural campaign. He met women, soldiers, religious leaders, the rich, merchants, tax collectors, Gentiles, prostitutes, beggars and the poor. These He attracted in large crowds as He visited each city. Jesus’ urban strategy established a model for His disciples and the early church. When He sent the disciples on preaching tours, He directed them toward cities (Matthew 10:5, 11–14). And later, the movement spread throughout the Roman Empire. By using an urban strategy, they planted communities of believers in no less than 40 cities by the end of the first century (Acts 11:22). In light of the vital role that cities played in the ministry of Jesus, we who follow Him today need to ask: What are we doing to relate the message of Jesus to our increasingly urban, multicultural and pluralistic world? Our Lord’s example in urban Palestine has much to teach us. TIBERIAS - This city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee is mentioned only once in the Gospels (John 6:23). There is no record that Jesus ever visited it. Perhaps, since it was a Gentile city, He avoided it in favor of numerous Jewish towns on the lake shore. Of the towns which surrounded the Sea of Galilee during New Testament times, Tiberias is the only one of any size to survive to the present day.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
When Jesus stopped at Cana a second time, what did He do? What was important about the healing of the Nobleman’s son? How far did the Nobleman walk to find Jesus? What Old Testament passage did Jesus use to launch His public ministry? Why were the town’s people of Nazareth so upset with Jesus’ message? What type of cities did Jesus go to first and why? What types of people did he minister to?
TRAVELOGUE: NOW, JESUS BEGINS HIS FIRST PREACHING TOUR IN GALILEE. He found great popularity among the common people. Jesus’ primary mission was teaching, so He turned His back on those who would keep him chained to one spot for a ministry of healing only (Mark 1:35, 37). The people acclaimed His miracles and teaching. Typical of His work on this circuit was the healing of the leper (Mark 1:40–45). This incident underscored Jesus’ submission to the Law, His compassion for men and His interest in bringing men to salvation. (He commanded the leper to make the long journey to Jerusalem and present himself in the temple for the prescribed purification, in order to submit himself to God.) Jesus goes back to Capernaum, where He demonstrates His authority to forgive sin by curing a paralytic. He summons Matthew, a much-hated tax collector, to become His follower (Luke 5:16–29). Matthew responded immediately. During a feast at Matthew’s house, scribes and Pharisees criticized Jesus and His disciples for their self-indulgence. Jesus responded that they were rejoicing at the presence of the Messiah, not reveling in self-indulgence. He alluded to His death and the mourning that would accompany it. But He promised that the mourning would be short-lived, for the spirit of the Gospel could not be confined to the “old wineskins” of Jewish legalism (Luke 5:30–39).
Who Were Those Tax Collectors? Matthew 9:9 speaks about the calling of Matthew, a tax collector. Tax collectors (Matthew 9:10) were agents or contract workers who collected taxes for the government during Bible times. Some translations incorrectly call them “publicans.” Publicans were wealthy men, usually non-Jewish, who contracted with the Roman government to be responsible for the taxes of a particular district. They were often backed by military force. By contrast, tax collectors were employed by these publicans to do the actual collecting of monies. They were Jews, usually not very wealthy. The Herods instituted a poll tax and a tax on fishing rights. Customs were collected on trade routes by men like Levi (Matthew) in Capernaum (Matthew 9:9 and Mark 2:14). The city may have also been a place for port duties and fishing tolls. Some items sold for 1000 per cent above their original prices because of all the taxes. There may have been a sales tax on slaves, oil, clothes, hides and furs. Over and above these taxes were religious dues, generally between 10 and 20 percent of a person’s income before government tax. As a result, during Jesus’ time, the Jews were probably paying between 30 and 40 percent of their income on taxes and religious dues. Some provinces, like Galilee, were not under an imperial governor, so their taxes remained in the province rather than going to the imperial treasury at Rome. Perhaps these inequities prompted the Pharisees in Judea (an imperial province) to ask Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not” (Matthew 22:17)?
As a class, tax collectors were despised by their fellow Jews, and were generally associated with “sinners” (Matthew 9:10–11; Mark 2:15). They often gathered more than the government required and pocketed the excess amount—a practice that John the Baptist specifically preached against (Luke 3:12–13). But, tax collectors were also hated because their fellow citizens viewed them as mercenaries working for the Roman oppressors. TRAVELOGUE: During this period, Jesus began to meet increasing hostility from the high Jewish officials. Jesus goes to Jerusalem for one of the Jew’s annual feasts. While in Jerusalem, He was attacked for healing a cripple on the Sabbath (John 5:1–47). He thus asserted His authority over the Sabbath and the Jews at once understood this to be a claim for divine authority. Jesus said that He knew God’s mind, that He would judge sin, and that He would raise people from the dead. His critics pointed out that only God can do such things. Back in Galilee, the Sabbath controversy continued as Jesus defended His disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath. It was a pleasant day’s hike through the grain fields when Jesus and His disciples met some Pharisees (Luke 6:1–2). In Matthew 12:1–13, we might ask some questions such as: What was it that so enraged the Pharisees when they saw the disciples picking grain and Jesus healing a man’s withered hand? In addition, why did Jesus refuse to allow their grumbling to go unchallenged? Always on the lookout for infractions of their traditions especially by Jesus and His followers, these legalists objected to the disciples “harvesting” grain in violation of the Sabbath. Never mind the group’s hunger. For that matter, never mind that they were obviously snacking: after all, how could a handful of tiny heads of wheat or barley make a satisfying meal? However, the Pharisees would take Scripture out of context or add to it in order to condemn people for normal, God-given behavior. They ignored God’s love and the freedom of His grace. The Pharisees had lost sight of the intent of the Law. They had taken upon themselves the impossible task of earning God’s favor through moral perfectionism. The more they labored to “keep the Law,” the more they wrapped themselves in an ever-expanding cloak of man-made rules and regulations. Worse, they judged everyone around them by their impossible standards. Jesus challenged them by using the very Scriptures they claimed to honor (Luke 6:3–4). Furthermore, according to Matthew’s account of this incident, Jesus questioned their basic attitudes, which seemed to have more to do with ritual than with the mercy that God values (Matthew 12:7). Yet, the critics only seemed to harden in their legalism, continuing to follow Jesus’ steps on another Sabbath, when He visited one of their synagogues (Luke 6:6–7).
Legalists may be the hardest people to reach with the message of God’s love. Jesus never won the Pharisees over as a group. But, neither did He allow their abuse of Scripture or people to go unchallenged. Ultimately, He claimed divine Lordship over the day. He healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. The Jewish religious authorities began plotting to destroy Him (Matthew 12:1–14 and Mark 2:23–3:6). Now Jesus singled out 12 of His disciples who were officially to carry on His ministry. The appointment of the Twelve inaugurated a new period of the Messiah’s ministry, beginning with the great Sermon on the Mount. [The mountain where Jesus prayed all night before choosing the Twelve could be either Mount Hermon or Mount Tabor.]
THE REST OF THE TWELVE: The twelve disciples were a rather similar group: all men, all Jews and all but one (Judas Iscariot) apparently from Galilee. On closer inspection, however, they turn out to be fairly different in their backgrounds and outlook. We have already looked at Andrew, John, Peter, Philip and Nathanael. Let us look at the others. MATTHEW- The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus approached this unlikely disciple as he sat at his tax table one day. Jesus simply commanded Matthew to “follow me,” and Matthew left his work to follow the Master (Matthew 9:9). Apparently, Matthew was fairly well-to-do, because he provided a banquet in his own house. “And a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them” (Luke 5:29). The simple fact that Matthew owned his own house indicates that he was wealthier than the typical tax collector. Because of the nature of his work, we feel quite certain that Matthew knew how to read and write. Papyrus tax documents dating from about A.D. 100 indicate that the tax collectors were quite efficient with numbers. Matthew may have been related to the disciple James, since each of them is said to have been a “son of Alphaeus” (Matthew 10:3 and Mark 2:14). Luke sometimes uses the name Levi to refer to Matthew (Luke 5:27–29). Thus, some scholars believe that Matthew’s name was Levi before he decided to follow Jesus, and that Jesus gave him the new name, which means “gift of God.” Others suggest that Matthew was a member of the priestly tribe of Levi. We do not know what happened to Matthew after the day of Pentecost. In his Book of Martyrs, the 19th century writer John Foxe stated that Matthew spent his last years preaching in Parthia and Ethiopia. Foxe says that Matthew was martyred in the city of Nadabah in A.D. 60. However, this is uncertain. JAMES, SON OF ALPHAEUS - The Gospels make only a brief reference to James, the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18). Many scholars believe that James was a brother of Matthew, since Scripture says that Matthew’s father was also named Alphaeus (Mark 2:14). Others believe that this James was identified
with “James the Less.” However, we have no proof that these two names refer to the same man (Mark 15:40). If the son of Alphaeus was indeed the same man as James the Less, he may have been a cousin of Jesus (Matthew 27:56). Some Bible commentators theorize that this disciple bore a close physical resemblance to Jesus, which could explain why Judas Iscariot had to identify Jesus on the night of His betrayal (Mark 14:43– 45). Legends say that this James preached in Persia and was crucified there. But, we have no concrete information about his later ministry and death. JAMES, SON OF ZEBEDEE. After Jesus summoned Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, He went a little farther along the shore of Galilee. He summoned “James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets” (Mark 1:19). Like Peter and Andrew, James and his brother responded immediately to the Messiah’s invitation. James was the first of the Twelve to suffer a martyr’s death. King Herod Agrippa I ordered that James be executed with a sword (Acts 12:2). Tradition says this occurred in A.D. 44, when James would have been quite young. (Although the New Testament does not describe the martyrdom of any other apostles, tradition tells us that all except John died for their faith.) The Gospels never mention James alone. They always speak of “James and John.” Even in recording his death, the Book of Acts refers to him as “James the brother of John” (Acts 12:2). James and John began to follow Jesus on the same day, and both of them were present at the transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2–13). Jesus called both men the “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). Legends say that James was the first Christian missionary to Spain. JUDAS (NOT ISCARIOT) - John refers to one of the disciples as “Judas, not Iscariot” (John 14:22). It is not easy to determine the identity of this man. Jerome dubbed him Trionius—“the man with three names.” The New Testament refers to several men by the name of Judas—Judas Iscariot, Judas the brother of Jesus (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3), Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), and “Judas, not Iscariot.” Clearly, John wanted to avoid confusion when he referred to this man, especially because the other disciple named Judas had such a poor reputation. Matthew refers to this man as Lebbeus, “whose surname was Thaddeus” (Matthew 10:3). Mark refers to him simply as Thaddeus (Mark 3:18). Luke refers to him as “Judas the son of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). The historian Eusebius says that Jesus once sent this disciple to King Abgar of Mesopotamia to pray for his healing. According to this story, Judas went to Abgar after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, and he remained to preach in several cities of Mesopotamia. Another tradition says that this disciple was murdered by magicians
in a city in Persia (modern day Iran). It is said that they killed him with clubs and stones. JUDAS ISCARIOT- All of the Gospels place Judas Iscariot at the end of the list of Jesus’ disciples. Undoubtedly, this reflects Judas’s bad reputation as the betrayer of Jesus. The Aramaic word Iscariot literally meant “man of Kerioth.” Kerioth was a town near Hebron (Joshua 15:25). However, John tells us that Judas was the son of Simon (John 6:71). If Judas indeed came from the town of Kerioth, he was the only Judean among Jesus’ disciples. Judeans despised the people of Galilee as crude frontier settlers. This attitude may have alienated Judas Iscariot from the other disciples. The Gospels do not tell us exactly when Jesus called Judas Iscariot to join His group of followers. Perhaps, it was in the early days when Jesus called so many others (Matthew 4:18–22). Judas acted as the treasurer of the disciples, and on at least one occasion he manifested a stingy attitude toward their work. Scholars have offered several theories about the reason for Judas’ betrayal. Some think that he was reacting to Jesus’ rebuke when he criticized the woman with the ointment. Others think that Judas acted out of greed for the money that Jesus’ enemies offered him. Luke and John simply say that satan inspired Judas’ actions (Luke 22:3; John 13:27). Matthew tells us that Judas in remorse attempted to return the money to Jesus’ captors: “So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). In most modern works, Judas is portrayed as a zealot or extreme patriot who was disappointed at Jesus’ failure to lead a mass movement or rebellion against Rome. There is, as yet, little evidence for this viewpoint. SIMON THE ZEALOT - Matthew and Mark refer to a disciple named “Simon the Canaanite” (modern translations have “Canaanean,” which is more correct), while Luke and the Book of Acts refer to one named “Simon the Zealot.” These names refer to the same man. Zelotes is a Greek word that means “zealous one.” “Canaanite” is an English transliteration of the Aramaic word kanna-ah, which also means “zealous one.” Thus, it appears that this disciple belonged to the Jewish sect known as the Zealots. The Scripture does not indicate when Simon the Zealot was invited to join the apostles. Tradition says that Jesus called him at the same time that He called Andrew and Peter, James and John, Judas Iscariot and Thaddeus (Matthew 4:18–22). We have several conflicting stories about the later ministry of this man. The Coptic church of Egypt says that he preached in Egypt, Africa, Great Britain and Persia. Other early sources agree that he ministered in the British Isles.
THOMAS - The Gospel of John gives us a more complete picture of the disciple named Thomas than we receive from the synoptic Gospels or the Book of Acts. John tells us he was also called Didymus (John 20:4) the Greek word for “twins.” We do not know who Thomas might have been, nor do we know anything about his family background or how he was invited to join the apostles. However, we know that Thomas joined six other disciples who returned to the fishing boats after Jesus was crucified (John 21:2–3). This suggested that he may have learned the fishing trade as a young man. On one occasion, Jesus told His disciples that He intended to return to Judea. His disciples warned Him not to go because of the hostility toward Him there. But Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Yet, readers often forget Thomas’ courage. He is more often remembered for his weakness and doubt. In the Upper Room, Jesus told His disciples, “You know the way to the place where I am going.” But Thomas replied, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:4–5) After Jesus rose from the dead, Thomas told his friends, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25). A few days later Jesus appeared to Thomas and the other disciples to give them physical proof that He was alive. Then Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) The early church fathers respected the example of Thomas. Augustine commented, “He doubted that we might not doubt.” Tradition says that Thomas eventually became a missionary in India. It is said that he was martyred there and buried in a suburb of Chennai, south east coast of India. His name is carried on by the very title of the “Marthoma” or “Master Thomas” church. MATTHIAS, JUDAS’ REPLACEMENT - Following the death of Judas Iscariot, Simon Peter suggested that the disciples choose someone to replace the betrayer. Peter’s speech outlined certain qualifications for the new apostle (Acts 1:15–22). The apostle had to know of Jesus “from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us.” He also had to be “a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:22). The apostles found two men who met the qualifications: Joseph surnamed Justus and Matthias (Acts 1:23). They cast lots to decide the matter and the lot fell to Matthias. The name Matthias is a variant of the Hebrew name Mattathias, which means “gift of God.” Unfortunately, Scripture tells us nothing about the ministry of Matthias. Eusebius speculated that Matthias would have been one of the 70 disciples that Jesus sent out on a preaching mission (Luke 10:1–16). Some have identified him with Zaccheus (Luke 19:2–8).
One tradition says he preached to cannibals in Mesopotamia. Another says he was stoned to death by the Jews. However, we have no evidence to support any of these stories. These are the accounts of the rest of the Twelve. TRAVELOGUE: Jesus delivered this message, THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (also called the Sermon on the Plain) when He descended from the mountain with His newly appointed apostles (Matthew 5:1–6:29). [You can find the study of the “The Sermon on the Mount” in the “Believer’s Lifestyle” SALT book.] On the hillside, Jesus described the lifestyle of the kingdom. When He was finished, Matthew says that the people were “astonished” (literally “overwhelmed” or “stunned”) at His teaching (7:28). They had come to hear a new teacher, but this one exceeded their expectations. His voice had an unusual but unmistakeable ring of authority (7:29). And, no wonder: they were listening to the King Himself!
Capernaum Possible location of the Sermon on the Mount
We don’t know exactly where the Sermon on the Mount was preached. A traditional site is in the hills near Capernaum. As the Lord Jesus spoke, He probably looked past the heads of His listeners from time to time, down toward the Sea of Galilee, which was closely connected with His earthly ministry.
Much of the Lord’s teaching and more The Jordan than half of His River recorded miracles occurred on or around this body of water. Situated some 96 kilometers north of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee is actually a freshwater lake fed by the Jordan River. The surface is about 200 meters below sea level. Tens of thousands of people are thought to have lived in the cities and smaller settlements that dotted the sea’s coastline during the first century.
A fishing industry thrived on the Sea of Galilee. Peter, Andrew, James, John and probably many more of Jesus’ followers derived their living from the sea. Now we read of several interwoven incidents. Perhaps on the very day He delivered the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus healed a centurion’s servant. This centurion, a Roman soldier, was sympathetic toward the Jewish religion (Luke 7:5) and apparently embraced Jesus as the true Messiah. The servant was healed “in the same hour” that the centurion made his request (Matthew 8:5–13). At Capernaum, perhaps about 11 kilometers from the site of the Sermon on the Mount, crowds continued to press upon Jesus. To escape this pressure, He set out for Nain and many accompanying Him. At the city’s entrance, He restored a widow’s son to life. This incident stirred the excitement of the crowd (Luke 7:11– 15). About this time, messengers from John the Baptist came to ask Jesus if He was really the Messiah. Still imprisoned, John had grown perplexed with the course of Jesus’ ministry. It was peaceful and merciful, rather than dramatic, conquering and judgmental. Jesus commended John and denounced the Jewish authorities who had opposed him. Indeed, He pointed out that the cities of Galilee that heard John had “not repented.” They had not truly come unto Him (Matthew 11:20–24). In one of the cities Jesus visited (perhaps Nain), He was anointed by an outcast woman. He forgave her sins in the presence of His host, Simon the Pharisee. Simon was offended, but Jesus was happy to receive her love (Matthew 26:6–13 and Mark 14:3–9).
In Jesus’ First Preaching Tour, what cities did he go to? Who were the tax collectors? How much were the Jews paying in taxes? Why did Jesus go again to Jerusalem? What wasJesus doing in Jerusalem and in Galilee that the officials started criticizing Him? Why were they criticizing Him? 5. Where is the mountain or hill where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount? 6. What is the name of the disciple not from Galilee? 7. What may have been this disciple’s thinking of the other disciples? What were his personal characteristics? 8. What disciple preached in the British Isles? 9. What disciple went to India? 10. Who replaced Judas Iscarot? Where does tradition say he preached and to whom? 11. Why were the people stunned at Jesus’ preaching while on the mountain? 12. How far is Capernaum from the site of the Sermon on the Mount?
1. 2. 3. 4.
TRAVELOGUE: This brings us to JESUS’ SECOND TOUR OF THE GALILEAN CITIES (Luke 8:1–4). The Twelve and certain devoted women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Susanna and “many others”) accompanied Him. It was on this journey that He cured the demoniac and the Pharisees accused Him of being in league with the devil. For this, Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees (Matthew 8:28–34; Mark 5:1–20). He emphasized the blessedness of those who “hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Luke 8:21). This same day He spoke many parables from a boat. The parable became Jesus’ primary teaching tool, which both revealed and hid the truths He wanted to communicate (Mark 4:10–12). No doubt, He repeated this and other sayings in different contexts, much as presentday ministers repeat their sermons and illustrations. Jesus captivated His listeners by presenting truth in terms that they could understand. Here in Matthew 13 we find no less than eight different images from the work world. Clearly, Jesus knew how to relate to the world in which everyday people lived and worked. Jesus probably spent most of His life working in His family’s carpentry business. We know almost nothing of His youth from adolescence until He began His public ministry at about age 30. We know that His father was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55) and that Jesus also practiced the trade (Mark 6:3). Carpenters worked with wood, metal and stone to produce furniture and farm implements, and constructed houses and public buildings. Jesus may have continued His occupation even after He began to teach and travel. Rabbis (or teachers) of that day commonly spent anywhere from one-third to one-half of their time working (most likely with their hands) to provide for themselves. While Jesus’ opponents, many of them rabbis, attacked Him on numerous grounds, they never accused Him of laziness. Indeed, He was known to them as a carpenter. That reputation passed on to the early church. One writer described Jesus as “working as a carpenter when among men, making plows and yokes, by which He taught the symbols of righteousness and an active life.” Little wonder, then, that Jesus’ teaching was filled with workplace images and analogies such as those recorded here. Using parables—brief stories illustrating moral principles—He frequently spoke about the nature of His kingdom. Matthew 13 collects eight of these as listed below (with possible interpretations): (1) The parable of the soils (13:1–23) addresses the receptivity of those who hear about the kingdom. (2) The parable of the wheat and the weeds (13:24–30) warns that people who pretend to be part of the kingdom may be able to fool others, but they can’t fool God. (3) The parable of the mustard seed (13:31–32) is a promise that the kingdom would become a force to be reckoned with. Do not despise small beginnings!
(4) The parable of the leaven (13:33) describes the influence of the kingdom: it quietly but effectively spreads among people and accomplishes significant results. (5) The parable of the hidden treasure (13:44) puts a value on the kingdom: it’s the most important thing one can possess. (6) the parable of the pearl of great price (13:45–46) also describes the kingdom’s value: it’s worth sacrificing everything in order to possess it. (7) The parable of the dragnet (13:47–50) warns that a day of reckoning is coming, when those who accept the kingdom will be separated from those who reject it. (8) The parable of the householder (13:51–52) places a responsibility on those who understand about the kingdom to share their insight with others. Jesus’ stories connected with the real world of agriculture (sowing, harvesting, growing), the food industry (baking, fishing), real estate (land purchasing, home ownership), and retailing (the sale of pearls). His images and language helped bring His message alive to common people. It showed clearly that God takes an interest in the workplace and desires people to serve Him in secular life. After preaching from the boat, Jesus crossed over the Sea of Galilee to the western shore. Before He departed, two men approached Him and asked to become His disciples (Matthew 8:18–22). Each made his request in an unrealistic and unworthy way, and Jesus rebuked them. While crossing the sea, Jesus’ life was threatened by a violent storm. He was asleep on a cushion in the stern of the boat, and so His disciples awakened Him. At once, He stilled the storm, and the disciples exclaimed, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35–41) WHAT KIND OF STORM WAS THIS? The Sea of Galilee was no place to be caught in a storm. The kind of weather that caught Jesus and His disciples occurs there today. As one traveler described it: “The sun had scarcely set when the wind began to rush down towards the lake, and it continued all night long, with increasing violence, so that when we reached the shore the next morning the face of the lake was like a huge, boiling caldron …” The reason for such gale-force winds is the surrounding landscape. The lake is about 200 meters below sea level. It is fed by rivers that have cut deep ravines surrounded by flat plains that are in turn hedged in by mountains. The ravines act like wind tunnels, gathering cooler air from the mountains as it crosses the plains. When the air mass runs into the hot lake shore, violent storms are whipped up with no warning. The violent storms on the Sea of Galilee were generally caused by the west wind, which brought rain from the Mediterranean. However, the strongest winds in ancient Palestine came from the desert that lay to the east.
Several of the disciples were experienced fishermen, well acquainted with such storms. However, they had never seen winds like those that attacked their boat (Luke 8:23). They turned to the Lord in utter terror, certain that all was lost. Yet, their fear of the wind and the waves gave way to wonder and awe when Jesus turned and calmed the sea. On the east side of Galilee, Jesus met a demoniac and drove the demons from him into a herd of swine, which immediately plunged to their death in the sea. When the townspeople came out to meet the Messiah, they found the demoniac fully clothed and in his right mind. The restored man was most likely a Gentile from the city of Gadara (Luke 8:38–39). Jesus sent him back home to tell his family and friends of God’s power and grace—possibly making him the first known Gentile evangelist. Surprisingly, they begged Jesus to leave. He did so after He had sent the man to tell his friends of the Messiah (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1–20). We are told of two miracles that Jesus performed when He returned to Capernaum: He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead and cured a woman with an issue of blood when she touched the hem of His garment (Matthew 9:18–26; Mark 5:21–43). When Jesus entered the ruler’s house he saw the mourners. He told them to “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” Nevertheless, they laughed at Him. In the ancient world, paid professional mourners (Matthew 9:23), most often women, aided families in their public expression of grief upon the death of a loved one. They composed poems praising the deceased, which they chanted to the accompaniment of a flute or other musical instrument in an attempt to stir the audience emotionally. They usually wore sackcloth and scattered dust in the air and on their heads. Weeping, wailing and beating their breasts, they created an unmistakable tone of grief. There was no denial of death or distancing themselves from loss. This is the first instance of raising the dead that we have in the Gospels. Three notable incidents of raising the dead are recorded. Again, Luke goes into more detail than Matthew. Luke adds that He spoke to the little girl in this lovely fashion, “My child, get up!” The method of Jesus in raising the dead was always the same. He spoke to the person directly. After healing the woman with the issue of blood and raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, the fame of Jesus spread. That Second Tour ended with a number of miracles and a second rejection at Nazareth. Jesus probably had been to Nazareth at other times but this is the second time mentioned in the Bible when Jesus re-visits His hometown. The first time, He had been practically run out of town and had gone down to Capernaum to make His headquarters there. This is a remarkable passage because it tells us he could not perform any mighty works there because of their unbelief. The only limitation to God’s omnipotence is unbelief. Faith is the one requirement to release the power of God in salvation. He marveled at their unbelief (Mark 6:6). Now, we notice that He went round about the villages teaching. This is a wonderful lesson for the Lord’s workers. There are certain men in God’s work who
do not want to go to a small place to minister. Our Word gives us a tremendous example here when it says that Jesus went about their villages. Imagine, the Lord of Glory, the Son of God here on this earth ministering in little villages. Today we have men who only want to speak before large crowds and have large churches. They feel they have to have a big crowd. All of us need to learn a lesson from Jesus.
1. In Jesus’ Second Tour of Galilee, who accompanied Him? 2. What was the primary teaching tool of Jesus at this point? Why did He use this tool? From where did He bring His examples? 3. Why was the storm on the Sea of Galilee so strong? 4. Who was the first known Gentile evangelist Jesus sent out? 5. Describe the professional mourners. TRAVELOGUE: JESUS MADE A THIRD TOUR OF GALILEE. As Jesus was going from village to village, He yearned for more laborers to reap the spiritual harvest. He sent His disciples two-by-two to call the towns of Israel to repentance, granting them power to heal and cast out demons. Thus their ministry extended His own (Matthew 10:5–15 and Mark 6:7–13). At this point [the spring of A.D. 29], we read the report of John the Baptist’s death. Herod Antipas had long hesitated before killing John because he feared the people. However, his wife Herodias plotted John’s death using her daughter Salome to achieve her goal. Herod’s guilty conscience led him to ask if Jesus was the resurrected John. Grieving at John’s death, beleaguered by crowds, and exhausted from work, Jesus gathered the Twelve and crossed the Sea of Galilee to a solitary place. But the crowds got there before them, and Jesus taught them all day. The session was climaxed when Jesus fed the entire multitude (5000 men) by dividing and multiplying five loaves and two fish. When the leftovers were gathered they filled 12 baskets (Matthew 14:13–21). As you look at the map below, follow the numbered events. 1. After feeding the 5000, Jesus sends the disciples in a boat to Bethsaida. He retreated into the mountains to escape the overly enthusiastic crowd, which wanted to make Him king by force. While in the boat, a strong wind slows their progress. Three hours after midnight, the disciples were caught in a violent storm in the middle of the lake. They were frightened.
2. At night, when disaster seemed certain, Jesus came walking toward them on the water (Matthew 14:22–36 and Mark 6:45–56). After He calmed their fears, Peter asked Jesus if He would permit him to come and meet Him. On the way, Peter lost faith and began to sink. Jesus took his hand and led him back to the boat. The water was calmed immediately.
3. Driven off course, they reach Gennesaret. They stayed for a period time, Jesus healing many sick people in the region. In Capernaum, Jesus began to heal the sick who streamed to Him from everywhere. Soon the crowd who had been fed arrived. Finding Jesus in a synagogue, they heard Him explain that He was the true Bread of Life from heaven. They were now faced with accepting the authority of this teaching, spelled out in terms of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood. This offended many of them and they left (John 6:22–66). Jesus asked the Twelve if they too were going to leave. This elicited Peter’s well-known confession, “Lord, to whom shall we go? ... We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). After His discourse on the Bread of Life, Jesus turned from public teaching and devoted Himself to instructing His disciples (Matthew 15:1–20 and Mark 7:1–23). The Jewish authorities resented Jesus’ rejection of their religious ceremonies and His bold rebuke of their claims to authority. Jesus moved from place to place, seeking to avoid public exposure. However, He could not always do this. 4. Jesus goes to a territory near Tyre---possibly alone. He tries to keep His visit a secret. In the area of Tyre and Sidon He healed a Gentile’s daughter. 5. A Gentile woman begs him to drive a demon out of her daughter. Jesus refuses, but she persists. He delivers the girl at a distance (Matthew 15:21–28). 6. He travels north near Sidon. 7. He goes down to the region of Decapolis. There is no mention that He preaches or enters any towns. 8. Here He heals a deaf man with a speech impediment. His miracle-making reputation spreads (Mark 6:45-56 and 7:24-37). 9. In the Decapolis region, Jesus feeds the 4000 people.
10. From this point, He crosses the Sea of Galilee to Magdala (Dalmanutha). Jesus came to this region after His miraculous feeding of the four thousand. SOME TOWNS EAST OF THE JORDAN RIVER: NEAR BETHSAIDA – In the desert , East of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus feeds five thousand people. DECAPOLIS (ten cities) — is a district of northern Palestine, with a large Greek population. It is mostly on the east side of the Jordan River and embraces ten cities. Early in his ministry, Jesus was followed by “great multitudes,” including people from Decapolis (Matthew 4:25). When Jesus healed the demon-possessed man from GADARA, he “began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him” (Mark 5:20). Later, Jesus traveled through the region (Mark 7:31). Pliny, the Greek historian, identified the ten cities of the Decapolis. Some of these are Damascus, Gadara, Philadelphia (the Old Testament Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon which is the present-day Amman, the capital of Jordan). MAGDALA• A city on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee, a short distance from Tiberias. • Known as Taricheae and called Migdal (“tower”), suggesting its significance militarily. • A flourishing center of the region’s fishing industry, shipping salted and pickled fish to Jerusalem, Damascus and even as far away as Spain. • Known for agriculture, shipbuilding and trade • Mostly Gentile in population and very wealthy • Boasted a stadium for chariot racing. • Today the city is called “Mejdel” is the likely site of the ancient city. TRAVELOGUE: Back in the area of Capernaum, Jesus was again besieged by the Jewish religious officials. To escape, He took a boat across the Sea of Galilee again. On the way, He warned the Twelve of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herod (Matthew 16:1–12 and Mark 8:11–21). 1. In Bethsaida Jesus healed a blind man (Mark 8:22–26). 2. Then He and His disciples journeyed north to the area of Caesarea Philippi, where Peter confessed Him to be “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied that Peter’s faith made him a rock, and that He would build His church upon this rock—that is, faith such as Peter had (Matthew 16:13–20 and Mark 8:27–9:1). At this point Jesus described His approaching suffering, death and resurrection.
3. About a week later, Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain and revealed to them His heavenly glory (the Transfiguration). He conversed before their eyes with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1–13and Mark 9:2– 13). At the foot of the mountain Jesus healed a demon-possessed boy whom the disciples had been unable to help (Matthew 17:14–23 and Mark 9:14–32). Again, JESUS TOURED GALILEE FOR THE FOURTH TIME, BUT THIS TIME SECRETLY. In Galilee, He again told the Twelve of His coming death and resurrection, and again they were unable to receive what He said (Matthew 17:22,23). Jesus paid the temple tax with money that was miraculously provided.
Went the other side of the Jordan.
Rejected in Samaria
About two months elapsed while Jesus went back to Galilee. On the way to Capernaum, He taught the disciples concerning the true nature of greatness and forgiveness (Matthew 17:22– 18:35). Perhaps it was at this time that He sent 70 disciples into the cities of Israel to declare that the Kingdom was near and that Jesus was the Messiah (Luke 10).
Stayed with Mary and Martha
After some months, He started for Jerusalem. He had purposely stayed in the Galilean region because the Jews wanted to take His life. As the Feast of Tabernacles neared, His own brothers urged Him to go to the Feast (John 7:2-9). However, He was not going to go publicly but secretly. He started out for Jerusalem since the time was approaching for Him to be taken up to heaven (Luke 9:51,52). Jesus attempted to pass through Samaria on His way to Jerusalem, but the people rejected Him. The reason was that He was heading for Jerusalem.
1. During what tour of Galilee was John the Baptist murdered? 2. During what tour of Galilee did Jesus feed the 5000 people and where? 3. What subject did Jesus teach when He turned to mainly teaching His disciples? Why? 4. Where did He feed the 4000 people? 5. What is the meaning of ‘Decapolis’ and what is special about that region? 6. During what tour of Galilee did Jesus secretly go and minister? 7. During the fourth tour of Galilee, to what city did Jesus finally start off? Why? 8. What did the Samaritans do to Jesus as He came into their region?
HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS – PART FOUR
The Galilean Ministry
Date A.D. 27 A.D. Event Location Healing of the Cana Nobleman’s Son Rejected at Nazareth Nazareth Moved to Capernaum Capernaum Four Become Sea of Fishers of Men Galilee Demoniac Healed Capernaum on the Sabbath Day Peter’s Mother-inCapernaum Law Cured, Plus Others First Preaching Tour of Galilee Leper Healed and Galilee Response Recorded Paralytic Healed Capernaum Matthew’s Call and Capernaum Reception Held Disciples Defended Capernaum by a Parable Goes to Jerusalem Jerusalem for Second Passover; Heals Lame Man Plucked Grain En Route to Brings about Galilee Sabbath Controversy Withered Hand Galilee Healed Causes Another Sabbath Controversy Multitudes Healed Sea of Galilee Twelve Apostles Near Selected after a Capernaum Night of Prayer Sermon on the Near Mountain Capernaum Centurion’s Servant Capernaum Healed Raises Widow’s Nain Son from Dead Jesus calms John’s Galilee Doubts Woes Upon the Galilee Privileged A Sinful Woman Simons’s Anoints Jesus House Matthew Mark Luke John 4:46-54 Related References
4:16-30 4:13-17 4:18-22 1:16-20 1:21-28 5:1-11 4:31-37 Isaiah 9:1,2 Psalm 33:9
9:1-8 9:9-13 9:14-17
2:1-12 2:13-17 2:18-22
5:17-26 5:27-32 5:33-39 5:1-47 Exodus 20:10
5:1 - 7:29 8:5-13
6:20-49 7:1-10 7:11-17 Isaiah 49:12,13 Job 19:25 Malachi 3:1 Genesis 19:24 7:36-50
Second Tour of Galilee Jesus Accused of Capernaum Blasphemy Jesus’ Answer to a Capernaum Demand for a Sign 28 A.D. Mother, Brothers Seek Audience Famous Parables of the Sower, Seed, Tares, Mustard Seed, Leaven, Treasure, Pearl, Dragnet, Lamp Told Sea Made Serene Gadarene Demoniac Healed Capernaum By the Sea of Galilee
8:1-3 11:1423 11:2426, 29-36 8:19-21 89:4-18 Joel 3:13
Jairus’ daughter Raised and Woman with Hemorrhage Healed Two Blind Men’s sight Restored Mute Demoniac Healed Nazareth’s Second Nazareth Rejection of Jesus Third Tour of Galilee Twelve Sent Out Fearful Herod Beheads John Return of the 12, Jesus Withdraws, 5000 Fed Walks on the Water Galilee
Sea of Galilee Eastern Shore of Galilee Capernaum
9:27-31 9:32-34 13:53-58 6:1-6
9:35-11:1 14:1-12 14:13-21
6:6-13 6:14-29 6:30-44
9:1-6 9:7-9 9:10-17 6:1-14
1 Corinthians 9:14
Spring A.D. 29
Near Bethsaida Sea of Galilee Gennesaret
Sick of Gennesaret 14:34-36 6:53-56 are Healed Peak of Popularity Capernaum passes in Galilee Turns from Public Teaching to Instructing His disciples Traditions Attacked 15:1-20 7:1-23 Aborted Rest in Phoenicia 15:21-28 7:24-30 Phoenicia: (Tyre and Syro-Phoenician Sidon) Healed Afflicted Healed Decapolis 15:29-31 7:31-37 4000 Fed Decapolis 15:32-39 8:1-9 Pharisees Increase Magdala; 16:1-4 8:10-13 Attack Capernaum Disciples’ Bethsaida 16:5-12 8:14-26 Carelessness Condemned; Blind Man Healed
Isaiah 54:13 Exodus 21:17
Peter Confesses Jesus Is the Messiah Jesus Foretells His Death Kingdom Promised The Transfiguration
Near Caesarea Philippi Caesarea Philippi
8:31-37 9:1 9:2-13
9:22-25 9:26,27 9:28-36 Proverbs 24:12 Isaiah 42:1
Mountain 17:1-13 Unnamed (Mt. Hermon or Mt. Tabor) Epileptic Healed Mount of 17:14-21 Transfiguration Fourth Tour – A Secret Tour of Galilee Again Tells of Galilee 17:22-23 Death, Resurrection Taxes Paid Capernaum 17:24-27 Disciples Contend about Greatness; Jesus Defines Greatness; Patience, Loyalty, Forgiveness Jesus Rejects Brothers’ Advice Sept. A.D. 29 Galilee Departure and Samaritan Rejection Capernaum 18:1-35
Exodus 30:11-15 9:33-50 9:46-62
Galilee, Jerusalem (secretly) 19:1 9:51-56
E. Last Judean and Perean Ministry of Jesus TRAVELOGUE: Jesus and His disciples crossed the Jordan and traveled through PEREA. Around October A.D. 29, Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. He had refused to go with His family but later He made the trip privately. The annual Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths, or Tents; John 7:2) swelled Jerusalem with an overflow of festive crowds. Every Jewish family within 32 kilometers of the city was required to move out of its home and live in a booth or tent in remembrance of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. Many chose to move into the city for the week. Reunions and parties alternated with solemn processions from the temple down to the Pool of Siloam, a reservoir. Pushing its way through the crowded streets, the throng sang Psalms 113 to 118 in anticipation of God’s righteous reign over Jerusalem. Jesus chose to quietly attend the festival (John 7:2–10). He taught in the temple (John 7:14), but waited for the right moment to declare Himself publicly. It came 45
on the last day of the feast (John 7:37-43). This was time when no water was poured out on the ground by the priests. It was a day of fasting. Jesus announced that, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Him and drink.” Whoever believes in Him, as the Scripture had said, streams of living water would flow from within him. Some thought He was the Messiah, but others thought He was just a prophet. Still others thought He was an imposter. The people’s opinions about Him were divided. Jesus had publicly affirmed that He was sent from the Father. He was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. The top religious authorities sent officers to arrest Jesus, but they were so impressed by Him that they were unable to fulfill their task. Then the religious authorities attempted to discredit Him by getting Him to violate the Law. However, they were not successful. During this period Nicodemus (John 7:50) tried to calm the hatred of the Sanhedrin (the high council of Jewish religious authorities). They brought to Him a woman taken in adultery and He completely turned the incident against them (John 8:1–11). However, while Jesus was in Jerusalem, He healed a blind man on the Sabbath. This provoked a great controversy and the man was thrown out of the synagogue (a terrible disgrace). Jesus found the man, who recognized Him as the Messiah (John 9). After this, Jesus delivered His famous discourse on the Good Shepherd (John 10:1–21). We can look at Luke 10:1 - 13:21 for the next events. The scene shifted to Judea. Jesus sends out the seventy-two disciples. He told them, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Luke 10:2) Perhaps this was the time Jesus visited Bethany and the home of Mary and Martha. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet while Martha prepared the meal. Martha complained about her sister’s idleness, but Jesus answered that Mary had chosen “that good part”—for example, listening to His teaching while He was still on earth (Luke 10:42). In Jerusalem in the winter of A.D. 30, at the annual Feast of Dedication, Jesus openly declared Himself to be the Messiah. The Jews regarded this as blasphemy, and they again tried to seize Him. Jesus then retreated across the Jordan to Bethabara. However, the opposition of the religious authorities continued to grow. Matthew 19:1-2 describes very briefly a journey from Galilee into the district of Judea, beyond the Jordan (Perea) and then into Jerusalem. This must have taken considerable time because of the long journey. The events of Luke 9:51– 18:34 happen before Matthew 19:3 begins. The teaching and incidents in Matthew 19:3–20:34 also took place during Jesus’ stay in Perea. Matthew presents a varied series of events: Jesus’ teaching on divorce, the confrontation with the rich young ruler, a parable and a miracle. The outcasts of society rallied to hear His teaching. Again, He taught primarily in parables. Jesus privately explained the true meaning of His parables to the
Twelve and continued their special training. One day, an urgent message arrived from the home of Mary and Martha. Lazarus, their brother, was mortally ill. By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. Nevertheless, Jesus raised him from the dead. This miracle increased the determination of the religious authorities to get rid of Him (John 11:1–46). Jesus and His disciples again withdrew from the crowds for a time. He went to a village called Ephraim near the desert. Then He turned His face toward Jerusalem and death (John 11:55–57). He and His disciples begin their last journey to Jerusalem (Luke 17:11). However, Jesus goes by way of Samaria and Galilee. He heals 10 lepers and one, a Samaritan, comes back to thank Him. In addition, on the way He speaks to the disciples of the coming kingdom (Luke 17:12-37). The way to Jerusalem was marked by miracles , teaching and confrontation with the Pharisees. While He was on this journey, several parents brought their infants to Jesus for His blessing (Luke 18:15–17). He urged a “rich young ruler” to forsake his wealth and follow Him (Luke 18:18–30). And, He again told His disciples of His coming death (Luke 18:31–34). In anticipation of that event, He described the rewards of the Kingdom and instructed His disciples to be servants of their people (Matthew 20:1–16). In the vicinity of Jericho, Jesus healed some blind men, among whom was Bartimaeus, who recognized Jesus as the Messiah (Mark 10:46–52). He ate in the home of Zaccheus the publican, who also received salvation through faith in Him (Luke 19:1–10). From Jericho, Jesus went to the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany (John 12:1-11).
1. When did Jesus go to Jerusalem from Galilee? What feast did He celebrate? 2. At what moment did He declare Himself publicly? Why? What were the opinions of the people about Jesus? 3. What kind of feelings did the healing of the blind man cause among the people? 4. When did Jesus speak about the “Good Shepherd”? 5. When did Jesus visit Mary and Martha? 6. At what feast did Jesus declare Himself to be the Messiah? What time of year? Where did Jesus go after this declaration? 7. After Lazarus was raised from the dead to where did Jesus withdraw?
HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS – PART FIVE Last Judean and Perean Ministry of Jesus
Date A.D. Oct. 29 Event Feast of Tabernacles Forgiveness of Adulteress Jesus-the Light of the World Pharisees Can’t Accept the Prophecy, Thus try to Destroy the Prophet Man Born Blind Healed: Following Consequences Parable of the Good Shepherd The Ministry of Seventy-two Lawyer Hears the Story of the Good Samaritan The Hospitality of Martha and Mary Another Lesson on Prayer Accused of Connection with Beelzebub Judgment Against Lawyers and Pharisees Jesus Deals with Hypocrisy, Covetousness, Worry and Alertness Repent or Perish Barren Fig Tree Crippled Woman Healed on Sabbath Parables of Mustard Seed and Leaven Feast of Dedication Withdrawal Beyond Jordan Begins Teaching and Returns to Jerusalem with Location Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Temple Matthew Mark Luke John 7:2, 11-52 7:53 & 8:1-11 8:12-20 8:12-59 Related
Jerusalem Probably Judea Judea (?) 10:1-24 10:25-37
Bethany Judea (?)
10:38-42 11:1-13 11:14-36
13:1-5 13:6-9 13:10-17
Probably Perea Jerusalem
Special Words About Herod Meal with a Pharisee Ruler; Healing Man with Dropsy; Parables of Ox, Best Places and Great Supper Demands of Discipleship Parable of Lost Sheep, Coin, Son Parables of Unjust Steward, Rich Man and Lazarus Lessons on Service, Faith, Influence Resurrection of Lazarus Reaction to Lazarus’ Resurrection; Withdrawal of Jesus Begins Last Journey to Jerusalem by way of Samaria and Galilee Heals Ten Lepers Lessons on the Coming Kingdom Parables: Persistent widow, Pharisee and Tax Collector Doctrine on Divorce Jesus Blesses Children and Objections Rich Young Ruler Laborers of the 11th Hour Foretells Death and Resurrection Ambition of James and John Blind Bartimeus Healed Interview with Zaccheus Parable: the
14:25-35 15:1-32 16:1-31 1 Peter 2:25
Perea to Bethany
17:12-19 17:20-37 18:1-14
Leviticus 13:45,46 Genesis 6-7
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 Genesis 2:23-25
Psalm 131:2 Exodus 20:1-17
10:32-34 10:35-45 10:46-52
18:35-43 19:1-10 19:11-27
Minas Returns to Home of Mary and Martha Plot to Kill Lazarus
F. The Last Week TRAVELOGUE: In the spring of A.D. 30, six days before Passover was to begin, Jesus is visiting Lazarus, Mary and Martha (John 12:1-11). The last week before Jesus’ crucifixion occupies a large portion of the Gospel records. Jesus attended a feast in Jericho at the home of Simon the leper, where Mary, the sister of Martha, anointed His head with costly perfumes. She also poured the perfume on His feet and wiped His feet with her hair. Some of the disciples protested this act because they felt it was a waste of money, but Jesus commended her. He pointed out that she was anointing Him for His coming burial (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3–9 and John 12:1-8). THE NEXT SEVEN DAYS: On the next day (Sunday), Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt upon which His disciples placed their cloaks (John 12). The Passover pilgrims lined the road, waving palm branches and acclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke His followers, He replied that if His followers were quiet the stones would cry out. That evening Jesus and the Twelve returned to Bethany (Matthew 21:1–9 and Mark 11:1–10). The next day, Monday, they journeyed once again to Jerusalem. On the way, He cursed a fig tree for not having fruit when He required it (Matthew 21:18–19 and Mark 11:12–14). By the following morning, the fig tree had withered. On Tuesday, the Jewish leaders demanded that Jesus explain the authority by which He acted as He did. Jesus replied by telling several parables. He successfully thwarted the Pharisees’ traps to get Him to contradict Moses and be discredited before the crowds. At one point, Jesus pointedly denounced the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:1–36). This was followed by an expression of His concern and longing for the people to love Him (Matthew 23:37–39). He also commented on the great sacrifice of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41–44) and talked to some Greeks who had requested an interview (John 12:20). He delivered a discourse on last things (Matthew 24:4–25:15 and Mark 13:5–37). Perhaps on Tuesday evening Judas appeared before the council of the Sanhedrin and contracted to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. This bounty was worth less than $20 in today’s currency—it was the price of a slave in Jesus’ time. Jesus spent Wednesday resting in Bethany.
On Thursday evening, Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples (Matthew 26:17–30 and Mark 14:12–25). He sent Peter and John to find the place where the meal would be eaten. The feast involved sacrificing a lamb at the temple and eating it while sitting around a table with one’s family. Jesus told two of the disciples to meet and follow a man carrying a pitcher who would lead them to the house where the feast would be prepared. They followed Jesus’ directions, and the man led them to a house whose owner had already prepared a room for that purpose. During the meal that evening, the disciples began to argue about which one of them would be most important. Jesus arose and washed their feet, trying to teach them that they should serve one another (John 13:1–17). After the meal, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, a ritual to be observed until He would come again. This symbolic meal consisted of eating bread (representing His body) and drinking wine (representing His blood). Judas left the meal to finalize his arrangements to betray Jesus. Jesus warned the remaining disciples that they would lose their faith in Him that night. However, Peter assured Jesus of his loyalty. Jesus replied that he would deny Him three times before the cock crowed at dawn. After the “Last Supper,” Jesus and His remaining disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus returned there with His disciples for final instructions and a period of soul-searching prayer. All the disciples were instructed. Only Peter, James and John went to Gethsemane with Jesus to pray (Mark 14:26–32). Jesus urged them to stand watch while He prayed. Then He pleaded with God to deliver Him from the coming events (Mark 14:32–42). However, His prayer was not an arrogant attempt to resist God’s will or even to change God’s plan. His pleas clearly acknowledged His obedience to the will of the Father: “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42). An important lesson can be learned from a study of Gethsemane. Jesus faced the temptation of Satan. He “has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). No wonder He cried, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). But He won the victory over satan as He declared to His Father, “Your will be done.” Because Jesus has faced such powerful temptation Himself, we can relate to Him as a personal Lord and Savior. “ Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18). Finally, He calmed His soul and was ready to face His death and all it would mean (Matthew 26:36–46 and Mark 14:32–42). At this point Judas arrived with a company of armed men. He identified Jesus for the soldiers by kissing Him (Matthew 26:47–56 and Mark 14:43–52). Jesus stood trial before both the religious and civil authorities. The religious trial was illegally convened during the night; but it confirmed its decision after
daybreak. Even at that, the whole matter was a mockery of justice (Matthew 26:59–68 and Mark 14:55–65). The civil trial occurred Friday morning before Pilate, who saw no threat or crime in Jesus. He sent Jesus to Herod, who mocked Him and returned Him to Pilate (Luke 23:6–16). The Roman official hoped to release Jesus by popular demand but the crowd shouted for him to release Barabbas (a robber and murderer). They insisted that Pilate crucify the Messiah. Pilate proposed to scourge Jesus and release Him to pacify the crowd, and he inflicted on Him other mockeries and punishments. Again, the crowd cried, “Crucify Him.” Ultimately Pilate gave in and sent Jesus to His death. In the midst of all this tumult, Jesus remained calm and composed (Matthew 27:11–31 and Mark 15:2–20). From Pilate’s court, Jesus was taken outside the walls of Jerusalem to the hill of Golgotha, where He was crucified at about 9 A.M. on Friday. Accounts of Jesus’ execution are found in Matthew 27:32–56 and parallel narratives. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body and buried it in Joseph’s tomb. Pilate sealed the tomb and set a guard over it to make certain the body was not stolen by Jesus’ disciples. Jesus was buried before sundown on Friday (“the first day,” since the Jews count days from sundown to sundown). His body remained in the tomb from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday (“the second day”) and from sundown Saturday to sunup Sunday (“the third day”). On the morning of the third day, the astonished soldiers felt the earth quake and saw an angel roll away the stone sealing the tomb. They fled from the scene. Soon a group of women came to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. They found the tomb empty. Running back to the city, they reported the news to Jesus’ disciples. Peter and John came to the tomb and found it just as they had said (Matthew 27:57–28:10 and parallels). JESUS HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD!
PILATE INSCRIPTION- Discovered in 1961 in the ruins of the Roman theater at Caesarea, this inscription mentions the names of the Emperor Tiberius and Pontius Pilate, who served as governor of Judea from A.D. 26 to 36. The most recent reading of the inscription is: “In honor of Julius Tiberius/Marcus Pontius Pilate/prefect of Judea.” ANKLE BONE AND SPIKE- An iron spike driven through the ankle bone of aman is the result of a first-century crucifixion. It was a practice that the Greeks and Romans adopted from the Phoenicians. Roman citizens were exempt from the cruel punishment, which was reserved for slaves and rebels. Death came very painfully and very slowly, occasionally taking as long as nine days.
GETHSEMANE is the garden spot on the western slope of the Mount of Olives where Jesus frequently went (John 18:1, 2). The temple lay directly opposite it across the Kidron Valley. It was the place of Jesus’ agonizing prayer, Judas’s betrayal and the Messiah’s arrest (Luke 22:39–54). Discussion: List the last seven days of Jesus the Messiah and tell a little about each day. HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS – PART SIX Jesus’ Final Week of Work at Jerusalem
Date A.D. Spring 30
Event Triumphal Entry
Location Bethany, Jerusalem, Bethany Bethany to Jerusalem Jerusalem Bethany to Jerusalem Jerusalem
Zechariah 9:9 Jeremiah 7:11
Fig Tree Cursed and Temple Cleansed The Attraction of Sacrifice Withered Fig Tree Testifies Sanhedrin Challenges Jesus. Answered by Parables: Two Sons, Wicked Vinedresser and Marriage Feast Tribute to Caesar Sadducees Question the Resurrection Pharisees Question Commandments Jesus and David Jesus’ Last Sermon Widow’s coins Jesus Tells of the Future Parables: Ten Virgins, Talents Day of Judgment Jesus Tells Date of Crucifixion Anointing by Mary at Simon’s Feast Judas Contracts the Betrayal
11:19-26 11:27 – 12:12 20:1-19 Isaiah 5:1-2
Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Mt. Olives Mt. Olives
22:15-22 22:23-33 22:34-40 22:41-46 23:1-39
12:13-17 12:18-27 12:28-34 12:35-37 12:38-40 12:41-44
20:41-47 20:45-47 21:1-4 21:5-36
Psalm 110:1 Leviticus 27:30 Daniel 12:1 Zechariah 14:5
24:1-51 25:1-46 26:1-5
14:1,2 14:3-9 14:10,11
22:1,2 12:2-8 22:3-6 Zechariah 11:12 Exodus
Bethany Jerusalem Bethany
Preparation for the Passover
Passover Eaten, Jealously Rebuked Feet Washed Judas Revealed, Defects Jesus Warns About Further Desertion: Cries of Loyalty Institution of the Lord’s Supper Last Speech to the Apostles and Intercessory Prayer The Grief of Gethsemane Betrayal, Arrest, Desertion First Examined by Annas Trial by Caiaphas and Council; Following Indignities Peter’s Triple Denial Condemnation by the Council Suicide of Judas First Appearance Before Pilate Jesus Before Herod Second Appearance Before Pilate Mockery by Roman Soldiers Led to Golgotha 6 Events of First 3 Hours on Cross Last 3 Hours on Cross Events Attending Jesus’ Death Burial of Jesus
22:1416, 24-30 13:1-20
Upper Room Upper Room Upper Room Upper Room Jerusalem
Psalm 41:9 Zechariah 13:7 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Psalm 35:19 Psalm 42:6
14:117:26 26:30,3646 26:47-56 14:26, 32-42 14:43-52 22:39-46 22:47-53 18:1 18:2-12 18: 12-14, 19-23 18:24
Thursday -Friday Friday
Mt. Olives Gethsemane Jerusalem
26:57 59-68 26:58, 69-75 27:1 27:3-10 27:2, 11-14 27:15-26 27:27-30 27:31-34 27:35-44 27:45-50 27:51-56
14:53, 55-65 14:54, 66-72 15:1
22:54, 63-65 22:54-62 22:66-71
Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem Calvary Calvary
18:15-18 25-27 Psalm 110:1 Acts 1:18,19 18:28-38
15:6-15 15:16-19 15:20-23 15:24-32 15:33-37 15:38-41 15:42-46
23:26-33 23:33-43 23:44-46 23:45, 47-49 23:50-54 23:55,56
19:16,17 19:18-27 19:28-30
Psalm 69:21 Psalm 22:18 Psalm 22:1
Jerusalem Jerusalem Jerusalem
Tomb Sealed Women Watch
Exodus 12:46 Exodus 20:8-11
G. The Resurrection Through the Ascension Jesus appeared to His followers on 10 recorded occasions after His resurrection. At one of these appearances, Jesus commissioned the 11 remaining apostles to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them in His name. This is known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20). The last time He appeared to His apostles, Jesus ascended into heaven (Luke 24:49–53 and Acts 1:6–11). Jesus promised to return just as He had ascended— visibly and physically. (After the Resurrection, Jesus had a real body, although it was not limited by time and space.) He again promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. Although the Holy Spirit has come, the church still awaits the second coming of Jesus the Messiah. HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS – PART SEVEN
The Resurrection Through the Ascension of Jesus
Date 30 A.D.
Dawn of First Day (Sunday, “Lord’s Day’)
Women Visit the Tomb
Location Near Jerusalem
One week later
Peter and John See the Empty Tomb Jesus’ Appearance to Mary Magdalene Jesus’ Appearance to the Other Women Guards’ Report of the Resurrection Jesus’ Appearance to Two Disciples on the Way to Emmaus Jesus’ Appearance to Ten Disciples Without Thomas Appearance to Disciples With Thomas Appearance to Seven Disciples by Sea of Galilee Appearance to 500 Great
24:12 Jerusalem 16:9-11
28:11-15 16:12,13 24:13-35
Mount in Galilee 28:16-20 16:15-18 24:44-49
1 Corinthians 15:6
after the Resurrection
Commission The Ascension
Mount of Olives
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