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Page 13: The Life of Christ Following the Harmony of the Gospels

An ongoing series on the life of Christ, following the Harmony of the Gospels found in the Thompson Chain Bible.  We are beginning at Jesus' baptism (paragraph 47) and will continue until His ascension. The gospel harmonies attempt to place each event of the life of Christ in order and give the relevant scripture as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Index   Page, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Back to 176: Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
Down to 178: The Ambition of James and John

177: His suffering Foretold Mt. 20:17-19; Mk. 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34

Luke18:31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, andspitted on:
33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knewthey the things which were spoken.

As Jesus and the twelve started their journey to Jerusalem, Jesus told them that the prophesies concerning His death would be fulfilled (Ps 22; Ps 69; Isa 53; Zech. 13:7; Dan. 9:26). He stated that He would be mocked, scourged, spit on and put to death. However, after three days He would rise again.

The Lord’s words simply fell on deaf ears. It wasn’t until after the resurrection that the disciples eyes were opened (Luke 24:30-32; Acts 1:3). It wasn’t until Pentecost that they were empowered to preach the gospel fearlessly (Acts 1:8). We remember that Peter denied the Lord at the judgment hall, but preached boldly to the crowd on the day of Pentecost. He was fulfilling the Lord’s command to strengthen his brethren after he was converted (Luke 22:32).

Conclusion and Application:

I wonder how much we really comprehend our Lord’s kingdom program? How often do we substitute our agenda for His? Do we realize that His ways are not our ways ( Isa. 55:8)?

Music drama and the arts are fine and can be used as vehicles to reach people but they can never replace the gospel message.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Luke 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

I am happy to declare with the apostle Paul, "I have determined to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

Back to 177: His suffering Foretold
Down to 179: Healing Two Blind Men

178: The Ambition of James and John Mt. 20:20-28; Mk. 10:35-45

Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

As Jesus and the twelve walked toward Jerusalem, He told them of His coming suffering, death and resurrection. It all fell on deaf ears and closed hearts. They all had their own conception of the coming kingdom and the exalted role that they would play in it. Everybody wanted to be chief.

James and John, whose mother Salome was possibly the sister of Mary, decided to press that advantage by having their mother ask Jesus to grant an unknown request. Jesus asked, “Just what is it that you want?” “Please grant that my two sons stand beside you, the one on the right and the other on the left when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “You really don’t know what you are talking about. Are you able to partake of the suffering that I am about to partake of?”

“Yes Lord, we are able.” “You will indeed share in my suffering, but it is not in my power to grant your request for special treatment. That will be given for to those for whom it is prepared.”

The other ten disciples who no doubt had schemes of their own became indignant when they became aware of what James and John had requested

Jesus then called all twelve together and told them that His kingdom would not be patterned after the governments of the world, where those with great authority rule over those of lesser rank. In fact, in His kingdom the hierarchy would be exactly opposite. “If you desire to be great, minister to all. If you want to be chief, be a servant to everybody.”

Matthew 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Conclusion and Application:

The disciples sensed that things were coming to a head. Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead and His enemies were pressing for a climax. They probably believed their would be some conflict where Jesus would once again be victorious and then the kingdom would be restored in all of it’s splendor. Jesus had recently told them that they would sit with Him judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Everything was going to work out fine.

James and John did indeed drink of our Lord’s cup of suffering. James was martyred and John was exiled to Patmos. All except John are said to have died a martyrs death. Obvious, something changed after the resurrection when Jesus walked with them for forty days speaking of things pertaining to the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). However, even at the ascension they still looked for a physical kingdom. Jesus told them that it was not for them to know but that they would receive power to witness of Him after they were baptized with the Holy Ghost (Acts 1:7-8, 2:4). After Pentecost, they were never the same. They never again entertained thought s of an earthly kingdom. They went to the ends of the earth preaching the gospel and gave their lives in the process.

How sad it is to see churches and ministries where everybody is struggling to be chief, without ever learning how to be a servant. I believe it greatly grieves the heart of the Lord. There will be a heavy price to pay for anyone who has abused others to obtain position and authority over others.

Jerimiah 23:2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.

May we all take inventory of the gifts that God has given us and determine how that we might use them to further His kingdom.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

When we get to heaven we may be very surprised at the seating arraignment. Some little frail prayer warrior may actually be favored over some of our highly visible preachers.

Somebody has said that prepared places are for prepared people.

Back to 178: The Ambition of James and John
Down to 180: Visit to Zacchaeus

179: Healing Two Blind Men _ Mt. 20:29-34; Mk. 10:46-52; Lu. 18:35-43

Excerpted from the song "Then Jesus Came"

One sat alone along the highway begging
His eyes were blind, the light He could not see
He clutches his rags and shivered in the shadows
Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee.

Matthew 20:29 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.
30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
32 And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
33 They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
34 So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.

As Jesus and the huge crowd that followed Him passed through Jericho, two blind men, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Jesus thou son of David have mercy on us.” Evidently the more prominent and vocal of the two was Bartimaeus. Those in the Lord’s entourage told them to keep quiet, but it was too late, Jesus had heard their cry.

He called for the men to be brought to Him and asked, “Just what do you want?” Lord, we want to see again.” Jesus said, Go your way, your faith has made you whole. They then joined the crowd following Jesus and all the people glorified God because of the miracle.

Conclusion and Application:

It is said that even in recent history, blindness and eye trouble has been a common occurrence in this area because of dust and the glaring sun.

Bartimaeus and his companion refused to be intimidated by the crowd. They had heard of Jesus and the miracles that He had performed. The fact that they called Him “Son of David” showed that they considered Him to be the Messiah. Their faith was strong. Surely if He could raise Lazarus from the dead, He could restore sight?

What are our expectations? Jesus said, "As your faith is, so be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29). If we expect nothing, that is exactly what we will get. If we ask in faith believing according to His will we have His promise that we will receive that which we ask for (Matthew 7:7-11, 18:19, 21:22; Luke 11:9; John 14:13-14, 15:7, 16:23-24).

Just as Bartimaeus came boldly to Jesus, once He was called, we have the promise that we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We have a Savior who feels every pain and emotion that confronts us. He remembers what it was like to get a little dirt under His fingernails, He remembers feeling exhausted, lonely and forsaken. He cares about us, more than we can ever imagine. He purchased us with His blood (Acts 20:28, I Peter 1:18-19), that we might live life to the fullest (John 10:10). He’s at the throne right now interceding for all of us, His prized possession (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus is not hard of hearing. Just as He heard the cry of the two blind men above the noise of the crowd, He hears your faint cry also.

Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

He’s waiting to hear from us!

Back to 179: Healing Two Blind Men
Down to 181:Parable of the Ten Pounds

180: Visit to Zacchaeus - Lu. 19:1-10

Luke 19:1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

Zacchaeus was the chief of publicans in the region of Jericho. We could say he was tax commissioner, or head of the local tax bureau. The publicans were men who had contracted with the Roman government to collect taxes. They would extort as much as possible from the local citizens, pay Rome the actual tax and then pocket the rest. Naturally they were despised by the local Jews.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

However, there was something working in the heart of Zacchaeus. He knew that he needed something that money could not supply. He knew he was not right with God. He, like everybody else in town heard the news that Jesus the miracle worker, the healer, the water walker, the storm calmer, the raiser of the dead was coming his way. Perhaps he had heard that Jesus now had Matthew, a former tax collector on his staff, and that Jesus wasn’t too picky about whom He ate with. He was even known to have eaten with prostitutes. Maybe, just maybe there would be hope for himself, he may have thought.

One problem: Zacchaeus was a very short man. To see Jesus, he would have to work his way to the front of a crowd of people who despised him. Solution: He climbed up into a sycomore tree which was actually a fig mulberry tree with broad leaves. Here he could hide and see the Master as he passed by.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus,make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

Fig leaves couldn’t hide Zacchaeus from the eyes of Jesus any better than they covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the garden. Jesus looked up and called this man by name and said, “Come down from there, I must eat at your house tonight.”

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

Zacchaeus had met the Master and was moved to show works or proof of repentance. “Lord, I’ll give half of my goods to the poor, and if I’ve cheated anybody, I will give him back four times as much.”

Jesus declared that Zacchaeus had found salvation and that he was indeed a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Conclusion and Application:

Zacchaeus was desperate and despair produces urgency. Like the woman who crawled on her knees to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, Zacchaeus determined that he was going to see Jesus and nothing would stop him. That type of urgency still brings results today.

Jesus knew Zacchaeus by name just as He knew the names of everyone in the crowd He also knew what was in the hearts of men (John 2:24). Jesus passed up the whole crowd to focus on Zacchaeus. I wonder why? Was Zacchaeus the only honest hearts person in the crowd?

Jesus told Zacchaeus to come down because “He must “ spend the night at his house. He didn’t say, “I would like to spend the night at your house.” He said, “I must spend the night at your house.”

Zacchaeus met the Master and he would never be the same. He was moved by the Spirit, all the way down to his pocketbook. When that happens we know that something has probably taken place.

Jesus was happy. He had come to seek and save the lost and had found a lost son of Abraham, hiding in a tree. In doing so, He passed by a large crowd of the curious and focused on the honest heart in need. He is still searching for the lost. Anybody, no matter how despicable they may be, will never be ignored.(Isaiah 43:3; Matthew 12:20; John 6:37).

Back to 180: Visit to Zacchaeus
Down to 182: The Anointing at Bethany

181: Parable of the Ten Pounds - Luke 19:11-27

Luke 19:11 And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

The general populous knew that the religious leaders had already determined that Jesus should be put to death. Since Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem they assumed that a showdown was imminent and that Jesus would fully establish His earthly kingdom and drive out the hated Romans.

They did not comprehend that as a result of Jesus being rejected, Cavalry lay ahead. Because of this type of thinking, Jesus gave the Parable of the Ten Pounds. A certain king (Jesus) went to a far country (heaven) to receive a kingdom for Himself and to return. He called His ten servants together and gave each a pound with the instructions to occupy until he returned. The servants evidently met opposition in investing their lord’s money, with the citizens saying, “We will not have this man to rule over us.”

Luke 19:15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

When He returned after having received the kingdom, he called the ten together to give an accounting of what they had done with the money entrusted to them. One man returned his original pound with ten more that he had earned. Another returned five more. Each was rewarded by being made ruler over one city for each additional pound earned. Another servant came forward with his original pound wrapped in a napkin. He explained that he was afraid, so he carefully kept the pound and returned it to his lord with no additional return. His lord called him a wicked servant and took the pound and gave it to the man who already had ten. He then pronounced judgment upon those citizens who would not have him to reign over them.

Conclusion and Application:

The parallels between this parable and the events which were soon to unfold are readily apparent. After Christ suffered and rose again He claimed all power in heaven and in earth. Upon His ascension He promised an endowment of power after the Holy Ghost had come. He gave the great commission instructing us to be witnesses unto Him and to preach the gospel to every creature.

Upon reception of the Holy Ghost we were all entrusted with the precious gospel. Scripture is replete with many references to our Lord’s second coming. At His return we will give account of what we did with what we were given. That won’t necessarily be a joyous time.

Lu 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

The lord took the pound away from the slothful servant and gave it to him who already had ten. Doesn’t seem fair dies it? Our Lord’s only concern is that we make maximum use of what He has entrusted to us. It was obvious that nothing could be gained with the pound wrapped in a napkin. It was very likely that the man who had already gained ten pounds would soon gain some more.

Luke 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

Verse 27 seems to be a pronouncement of judgment upon those who wouldn’t receive Him. This certainly happened at the destruction of Jerusalem and will also happen again. Jesus will appear in flaming fire to exercise vengeance upon all who haven’t obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ (II Thessalonian's 1:8). Also, as mentioned above, we all, saint and sinner alike , will stand before Him in judgment (Romans 14:10; II Corinthians 15:10). That will be a joyous time for some and not so joyous for others.

Back to 181: Parable of the Ten Pounds
Down to 183: The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

182: The Anointing at Bethany Mt. 26;6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Jn. 12:2-8

Matthew 26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

This incident is often confused with another anointing of Jesus (Lu 7:36-50) which was performed by a weeping prostitute at the home of a rich Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner. It is necessary to read the accounts of Matthew, Mark and John to get an accurate picture of what occurred at this instance. The account of Matthew and Mark are essentially the same. We get a much clearer picture from the account of John.

Mark (Mark 14:1) said that this incident occurred two days before the Passover and John 12:1 tells us it was six days. Simon the Leper (It is safe to assume that he had been healed of his leprosy by Jesus) hosted a supper for Jesus and his disciples. Lazarus, whom Jesus had recently raised from the dead was also present. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, took charge of serving the meal. We remember that Lazarus had another sister named Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus rather than help her sister Martha entertain Jesus (Lu 10:38-42 See Par. 149 At the Home of Mary and Martha http://about-him.com/life/life_10.html#149 ). It was the custom for the women to eat separately from the men. Well, guess what, Mary wasn’t about to stay in the kitchen when the One whom she adored was sitting in her presence. She knew from all that had recently transpired that Jesus was soon to be put to death.

John tells us that it was Mary who took a alabaster vial of precious Spiknard ointment which cost three hundred pence, a goodly sum which amounted to a year’s wages in those days. She poured the precious ointment over his head and then upon His feet. She ignored the custom of the day and unbound her hair in the presence of all and proceeded to wipe the feet of Jesus with her tresses as the aroma of the precious perfume filled the house. Her love and devotion was openly and unashamedly shown for all to see.

This raised the ire and resentment of Judas Iscariot and the other disciples who began to mummer that such a costly object should not have been wasted in such a manner. It should have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor.

Jesus rebuked them all, and said that she had anointed His body for burial. Wherever the gospel was to be preached her name would be mentioned as a memorial. Charles Swindoll makes the point that the ointment saturated the hair, body and clothing of Jesus. It is very possible that when Jesus stood in Pilate’s judgment hall, that this aroma filled the room. Perhaps the soldiers at the cross smelled it as they gambled for His garments.

The whole incident created quite a stir. Many people who heard that Jesus was there came to see him and Lazarus whom He had raised from the dead. The Pharisees were incensed. Because of the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead many of their number had begun to follow Jesus. They decided that they would find a way to kill Lazarus also (John 12:11).

Conclusion and Application:

I marvel at how the joyous occasion of a thank you banquet for Jesus soon ended with dissension and bickering. First, Judas the thief voiced his concern and then some of the more timid disciples joined in. They were more concerned about a perceived waste than about the fact that their Lord was going to soon be put to death.

I marvel at the devotion of Mary. Every chance she got, she was at the Master’s feet. I wonder where I would have fit in, if I had been present at this supper. Would I be at His feet, or would I, because of a jealous spirit, be critical of this woman who loved her Lord so dearly? Something to think about!

An old song comes to mind:

I love Him. I love Him
Because He first loved me
And purchased my salvation
On Calvary’s tree

Back to 182: The Anointing at Bethany
Down to 184: Cleansing the Temple

183: The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lu 19:29-44; Jn. 12:12-19

Mark 11:8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.
9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

It is necessary to read all the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to get an accurate picture of what transpired on the day that Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Even then, some things remain a matter of conjecture and interpretation.

Jesus and His disciples and a large group, who had been at the place in Bethany where Mary anointed the feet of Jesus (See Par. 182) , were now leaving Bethany to go to the feast of Passover at Jerusalem. Up until this time Jesus had affirmed His Messiahship to just a few people. Now it was time to proclaim it to the world. He told His disciples that if they went to a particular place in a nearby village, they would find a donkey with her young colt. They were to loose them and bring them to Jesus. If anyone questioned why, they were to simply, reply, “The Lord has need of them.”

In doing this, Jesus is consciously going about to fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9 and perhaps Isaiah 62:11.

Zechariah 9:9 ¶ Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

They brought the animals to Jesus, and placed Him upon them. As a sign of honor they placed their garments for Jesus to sit on. Others began to place there clothes in the walkway and to cover the path with palm leafs. A spontaneous praise began to well up that reverberated throughout t he surrounding area.

At the same time, there were many pilgrims from the north attending the Passover feast also. They had heard of the many miracles of Jesus and were determined to seek him out to see and hear Him. These people joined the large group who had originally started out with Jesus. All were caught up in the ecstasy of the moment. Their Messiah had finally decided to declare Himself. The throne of David would be restored with all it’s glory.

Matthew 21:9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.

As the procession was passing the place where the Roman garrison was encamped, some Pharisees in the crowd pleaded with Jesus to have His disciples tone it down and not attract the attention of the Roman occupiers. Jesus replied that if these held their peace, the very stones of the earth would cry out in praise.

As the city came into view, Jesus broke the festive mood of the assembly as He began to weep over Jerusalem. His heart was broken that they had missed the day of their visitation. He then gave a very vivid description of what would happen to Jerusalem in just a few years. The whole city and the beloved temple would be utterly destroyed with a wholesale slaughter of the population. It happened just the way that Jesus predicted in A.D. 70.

As the crowd entered Jerusalem, the whole city was moved, and asked “Who is this?” Others answered, “This is Jesus of Nazareth.” It was evening, and Jesus went into the temple. He left and returned to Bethany for the night. He would be back the next day and exercise His Lordship by once again driving the money changers from His house.

Conclusion and Application:

Jesus announced His Messiahship riding on a donkey rather than the stallion that would have been expected. In doing so, He was presenting Himself as the Prince of Peace. He was coming to claim a kingdom, but not in the manner that was expected. Instead of going directly to a throne, He took a detour by way of Calvary. He would be crucified and rise again in a glorified form. He would ascend to the very throne of God with all power of heaven and earth entrusted to Him?

Millions in the world today are like the colt and her foal who were tied at a place where two ways met. The Master sees and has need of them, just as He saw the animals upon whom He entered Jerusalem. Our job is to loose them and bring them to Him.

Just as He grieved over Jerusalem, He grieves over you and me when we miss our day of visitation. Just as Jerusalem had a final call, the same thing can happen to us.

Lu 19:44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

He said His Spirit would not always strive with man (Gen 6:3). If He calls today and I die tomorrow without having answered, oh how sad that will be(Hebrews 9:7) . It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God (Hebrews 10:31). We don’t hear that preached much anymore, but perhaps we should hear it more?. Perhaps if we comprehended it, we wouldn’t be so swift to trample His mercy under foot?

I don’t want any stones to take my place in crying out praises to my Savior.

The great emotion that was aroused attracted the attention of all the city, but it soon wore off. Many of the same people who shouted Hosanna as He entered Jerusalem would be shouting, “crucify Him,” later in the week. However, in about fifty days, another event would shake the city. The Spirit would come in supernatural fashion. The emotion that the Spirit brought would never die down. Those who were empowered at the Day of Pentecost, went to the ends of the earth proclaiming, “This is Jesus of Nazareth!”

Back to 183: The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Down to 185: Cleansing the Temple

184: Cursing the Fig Tree Mt. 21:18-22; Mk. 11:12-14, 20-26

Mark 11:12 ¶ And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples retired for the night outside of Jerusalem. As He was returning to the city the next morning, He grew hungry. Spotting a fig tree in a common area, He naturally approached it, hoping to eat. What a disappointment! The tree was full of foliage and attractive to the sight, but it had no fruit. Jesus became indignant and cursed the tree, proclaiming that no fruit would ever again grow on it.

Jesus proceeded to the temple where He cleansed it a second time of the money changers (par 185), and then ministered to the people in healing (par 186). Upon going to the temple the next day, Peter noticed that the fig tree was withered away. Jesus told him that if he had faith in God, he could do similar miracles, even to the point of causing a mountain to be removed and cast into the sea. However, it all hinged on faith and not having unforgiveness in his heart when he prayed.

Mark 11:19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.
20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. {Have…: or, Have the faith of God}
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Conclusion and Application:

The barren fig tree was a perfect example of dead religion, full of pomp and ritual. It may be pretty to look at on the outside, but it bares no fruit. In other words, profession without possession. Just as Jesus looked to this tree for food when He was hungry, the sinner looks to the church. Just as judgment was pronounced for a dead fig tree, judgment awaits the dead professing church (Revelation 3:16).

Jesus said that we could command a mountain to be cast into the sea, if we had the proper faith. I believe we all accept that He was talking figuratively, but when was the last time we took authority over a mountain in our lives, figurative or natural? How many times are our prayers unanswered become we hold unforgiveness in our hearts? I’m afraid it is more than we care to admit.

In the Old Testament, the fig tree was understood to be a symbol of the Jewish nation (Judges 9:6-15)(See par 101 The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree http://about-him.com/life/life_05.html#101). In just a few days they would seal their doom by rejecting Jesus as their Messiah. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s mercy had been continually extended to a backsliding Israel. By the time of Jesus they had become an inflexible religious institution. They had missed the time of their visitation (Luke 19:44). Many who just a day earlier had proclaimed Him as Lord would soon cry out, "Crucify Him, We have no king but Caesar!” In about 40 years, the nation of Israel would cease to exist. The temple and the city was utterly destroyed with about one million people being slain in one day by the Roman army.

We know that the nation was restored in 1948. I don’t know exactly how they figure into God’s end time plan, but I personally feel that they do. Jesus, speaking of His second coming, told us in Matthew 24:32 that when one saw the fig tree begin to bud, they knew that summer was nigh, Likewise when we see the signs of the times, which include the budding fig tree of Israel, we know that His coming is near.

Paul said that Israel had been cast off that the gentiles might be grafted in. He stated that they would be saved when the times of the gentiles was over (Romans 11:25). Speaking of the times of the gentiles: Just as judgment came swiftly to the Jewish nation when they rejected the Savior, we the gentiles could find judgment descending quickly on us also.

Scripture tells us of a day that Israel will look upon Jesus and ask where He got those scars in His hands (Zechariah 13:6) and that they would ultimately exclaim, “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him (Isaiah 25:9).”

Back to 184:Cursing the Fig Tree
Down to 186: Healing in the Temple

185: Cleansing the Temple Mt. 21:12-13; Mk. 11:15-19; Lu 19:45-46
186: Healing in the Temple - Mt. 21:14-17

Matthew 21:12 ¶ And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.

Jesus had driven the money changers out of the temple on the first Passover of His ministry. See Par 51,52. Now it is two days before the last Passover and He once again finds the same situation. He overthrew the tables of the money changers and told them that His Father’s house was supposed to be a house of prayer, but that they had made it a den of thieves.

The Chief priest and the scribes counseled together on how they might destroy Jesus. However, they were fearful of doing anything because of His popularity with the people, who pressed upon Him to hear His doctrine. Many of the blind and the lame, upon hearing that Jesus was in the temple, came to Him and He healed them.

The Chief priests and the scribes were also annoyed that some children were crying in the temple in the presence of Jesus and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” They asked Jesus, “Don’t you hear what they are saying, they are calling you Messiah,” Jesus didn’t deny the title, He simply answered that it was written that God had perfected praise in the mouth of babes and departed.

Conclusion and Application:

I believe that Jesus is just as disturbed with the crass commercialism of the church today as He was when He drove the money changers out of the temple . It is sad to say, but many churches and ministries are little more than businesses. Of course there are many many more who are doing their best to fulfill the commission to preach the gospel.

Peter told us that there would be a day when with feigned words, some would make merchandise of men. I believe that day is here. Those who do so have their judgment waiting for them (II Peter 2:3).

I do believe in giving and giving liberally to the kingdom of God, but I am very careful where I place my donations. If it can’t be demonstrated that the monies given are helping the kingdom, I simply will not give. I am not about to help anyone live like a king, while the mission fields go begging.

The children in the temple were recognizing Jesus as Messiah by crying out, “Hosanna to the son of David.” Sometimes a child, in their unsophisticated innocence, can recognize things that the rest of us miss.

Sometimes children seem to get a bit emotional in praise. Enough so that some of us are always present to see that they don’t get carried away. We had better be careful. Remember in Luke 19:14, Jesus said that the very stones would cry out if the people didn’t praise him.

Back to 186: Healing in the Temple
Down to 188: Parable of the Two Sons

187: Mt 21:23-27; Mk 11:27-33; Luke 20:1-8

Luke 20:1 ¶ And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,
2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?
3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me:
4 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?
5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not?
6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.
7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.
8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

It had only been a couple of days since Jesus had made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem See Par. 183. When He did so, He made an open claim to Messiahship. When He drove the money changers from the temple, He had effectively taken control of the temple See Par. 185. The people were flocking to hear Him teach. This presented a problem to the ruling religious leaders. They had already determined to kill Him (Luke 19:47). Perhaps they could provoke Him into making an open claim to Messiahship once again? This would give them grounds to confront Him and bring Him to trial.

A formal delegation composed of the Chief Priest, the Scribes and the Elders came to Jesus and demanded answers. They presented Him with what they thought was a fool proof question; "Tell us, by what authority do you do these things? In other words, "Did we give you authority for anything that you have been doing? Who authorized you to preach without a license? What business do you have healing people? Why did you interfere with our business concessions in the court of the temple? Why did you claim the title, Son of David?" Their questions were endless, because of their unbelieving hearts. Perhaps He would play into their hands by claiming oneness with God once again?

Jesus was not about to fall into their trap. He put them on the defensive by answering a question with a question and demanding an answer. “I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? They knew that Jesus had them trapped. If they said from heaven, he would ask why they had not obeyed him. If they said of men, they feared that the people would rise up and stone them. We remember that John had stirred the whole nation to repentance and the people regarded him as a prophet. John had pronounced Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. John said that he would decrease, but that Jesus would increase. It was Jesus whose shoes John felt unworthy to unlatch. It was Jesus who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire (Mark 1:1-8).

These wise and learned men were left stupefied. All they could answer was, "We can not tell."

Conclusion and Application:

Times have changed but the questions remain the same. Who is Jesus? To many, He is just a man. To some He was a great teacher. To others an imposter and a faker. To us, He is Almighty God manifest in flesh (I Timothy 3:16). Many see Him as just a good man. We see Him as the sinless Son of God in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 1:19,2:9; Revelation 1:8).

Many challenge His word, but they forget that He validated it all by rising from the grave on the third day, just as He had predicted. If the eyewitness accounts of those who saw the empty tomb and who saw Him after His resurrection were presented in a court of law, the evidence would be irrefutable that He is Whom He claimed to be.

Many challenge His authority to make a claim that that He and He alone is the only way to salvation (John 14:6). Many challenge the validity the claim that His blood washes away all sin (I John 1:7). My eternal destiny depends on how I treat these questions: Who is He? What claims does He have on my life? Am I willing to accept His authority and obey His word to obtain eternal salvation (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47-49; John 7:38; Romans 10:9; Acts 2:37-39)?

An old chorus comes to mind:

He is my everything, He is my all
He is my everything, both great and small
He gave His life for me, made everything new
He is my everything, how about you.

Back to 187: His Authority Questioned
Down to 189: Parable of the Wicked Husbandman

188: Parable of the Two Sons Mt 21:28-32

Matthew 21:28 ¶ But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

After Jesus had driven the moneychangers out of the temple, His authority to minister and perform miracles in the temple was challenged by the temple rulers. Jesus took the offensive by giving The Parable of the two Sons.

A certain farmer, who had two sons, had a vineyard which needed attention. Upon hearing the father’s request, the elder said that yes he would be glad to help out and work in the vineyard. However, he simply did not go as he said that he would. The younger brother said that he would not go, but later reconsidered and worked in the vineyard as requested. Jesus asked His antagonists which brother had done the will of his father? Of course the only answer that they could give was that it was the younger.

As Jesus issued a stinging denunciation to these ruling religious authorities, It dawned on them that He was comparing them to the first son. They did not enjoy hearing that the publicans and harlots were replacing them as God’s chosen.

It all went back to John the Baptist who had come as a keeper of the law and who lived a simple sacrificial lifestyle. This impressed the elders, scribes and Pharisees at the first. However, when John demanded a true application of the law and inward holiness, they rejected Him. Jesus said that they had rejected the council of John by refusing John’s baptism, which was unto the remission of sins. They felt that John's baptism was only for sinners, so it certainly couldn’t apply to them whatsoever.

They had witnessed the miracles of Jesus, from turning water into wine to the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus did not fit their mold and would not conform to their agenda, and they rejected Him. They were even now conspiring how that they might kill Him.

The publicans and harlots, rejected John at first but were convicted of their sins and submitted to and obeyed John’s message. It would be they who would look for the Lamb of God, the Holy Ghost baptizer, the very Son of God (John 1:29-34).

Conclusion and Application:

Jesus had fought a constant battle with these folks, since the day that He read the text of Isaiah 61 in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:18). Jesus denounced their ultra strict interpretation of the law while rejecting it’s weightier matters, such as justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). I trust that we don’t forget justice and mercy, because we all must have it.

Well, it’s easy to keep hitting on those Scribes and Pharisees, isn’t it? How about us?

Do we try to make Jesus conform to our idea of righteousness, rather than vice versa?

These fellows had commercialized the gospel of the day. How about Us? They dissected and twisted the word of God to their own advantage? We don’t do that, do we? They had no compassion for the great unwashed. Do we? They had forgotten that there was a place for God’s mercy and grace in His word (Matthew 23:23).

The words of John illustrates the Parable of the Two Sons very well.

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {power: or, the right, or, privilege}
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)full of grace and truth.

Jesus came to His own (Israel) first, but they rejected Him. Thus, the doors to the kingdom were swung open to the vilest of people. We believed and obeyed His word and were washed in His blood and born of His Spirit. For this, we are eternally grateful and we desire to continue laboring in His vineyard that others might believe also and be saved.

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