The Journey to Jerusalem
Jesus decided to travel to Jerusalem when the time drew near for him to return to the Father. He sent messengers on ahead, and they stopped in a Samaritan village on the way to find a place for him to rest. But the villagers didn’t welcome him because he didn’t want to stay there, but to continue on to Jerusalem.
When his disciples James and John realized this, they said “Teacher, do you want us to call down the fire of heaven to destroy them, as Elijah once did?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, saying “You don’t know the Spirit that you are a part of. The Son of Man came to save people’s lives, not destroy them.” Then they traveled on to another village.
I will follow you
When Jesus noticed how large the crowd was growing, he instructed his disciples to prepare to cross to the other side of the lake. Just then a teacher of the Law said to him “Rabbi, I will follow you no matter where you go.”
But Jesus said “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest.”
Later, when he invited a man to come with him and be his disciple, the man said that he needed to go home to bury his father. Jesus told him “Now is the time to follow me. Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own. Your job is to spread the good news of the kingdom of God.”
Another asked to follow him but said “First let me go and say goodbye to my family.” But Jesus said to him “Anyone who turns aside from the work I plan for him to do is not fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
MT 8:18-22, LK 9:57-62
Jesus at the Festival of Sukkot
Jesus secretly went up to Jerusalem to attend the festival of Sukkot after his brothers left. The Jewish authorities were on the lookout for him there, asking “Where is he?” The crowds were actively talking about him. Some thought he was good, while others thought he was leading people astray. However, nobody was openly talking about him because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities.
Halfway through the festival, Jesus began to teach in the Temple complex. The Jewish authorities were astonished and wondered “How can he know the Scriptures when he has never been taught?”
Jesus answered them “What I teach doesn’t come from me, but from the One who sent me. If anyone wants to do the will of God, he’ll know whether what I say is from God or from me. Anyone who presents his own ideas is seeking glory for himself. However, he who seeks to give glory to the One who sent him speaks only the truth and is free from unrighteousness. Moses gave you the Law, yet none of you keep it! Why do you want to put me to death?”
The crowd shouted “You are possessed by a demon! Who wants to put you to death?”
Jesus answered “I did one miracle and you all were stunned. Think about this: Moses taught you the mitzvah of circumcision – not that Moses invented it, because it came from our forefathers – and you perform circumcisions on men on the Sabbath. If a man is circumcised on the Sabbath to uphold the Law of Moses, then why are you angry with me because I healed a man on the Sabbath? Don’t judge based on outward appearances. Instead, judge based on what is righteous.”
The identity of the Messiah
Some of the citizens of Jerusalem were talking amongst themselves, saying “Isn’t this the person the authorities want to kill? But look here, he’s openly speaking and they aren’t saying anything to him. Is it possible that the authorities know he is the Messiah? But we know where he comes from. Nobody will know where the Messiah is from when he arrives.”
While Jesus was teaching in the Temple complex, he shouted “You know me, and you know where I come from. Yet I didn’t come here on my own, but you can trust the One who sent me. You don’t know the One who sent me. I know him because he sent me and I am from him.”
Then the authorities tried to grab him, but they were not able to touch him because it wasn’t his time. However, many people in the crowd believed he was the Messiah, and said “When he finally comes, the Messiah couldn’t possibly perform more miracles than this man has, could he?”
The Pharisees heard what the crowd was saying about him, so they and the chief priests sent the Temple police to arrest him.
Jesus said “I am only going to be here among you for a little while. Then I will return to the One who sent me. You will search for me, but you won’t find me, and where I’ll be, you can’t go.”
Then the Jewish authorities said to themselves, “Where does he think he can go where we can’t find him? He doesn’t plan on going to where some Jews have spread out to Greece and teach the Greeks, does he? What did he mean when he said ‘You will search for me, but you won’t find me, and where I’ll be, you can’t go’?”
The promise of the spirit
On the final and most important day of the festival of Sukkot, Jesus stood and shouted, “Anyone who is thirsty should come to me and drink! Just like the Scriptures say, anyone who believes in me will have rivers of living water flowing from their very center.”
He was talking about the Holy Spirit, which his believers were going to receive. The Spirit had not been received yet because Jesus hadn’t yet gone to his glory in heaven.
The people are divided over Jesus
When some of the people in the crowd heard Jesus say this, they said “He is really the Prophet!” Others said “He is the Messiah!” Yet others said “The Messiah can’t come from Galilee, can he? Isn’t the Messiah supposed to be from Bethlehem, where David lived, and be descended from him?” The crowd was divided about who they thought he was. Some of them wanted to grab him, but nobody touched him.
Debate over Jesus’ claims
The chief priests and the Pharisees challenged the Temple police when they returned without Jesus, asking “Why didn’t you bring him?”
The police answered “Nobody ever talked like this man!”
The Pharisees countered “Has he fooled you too? Has anybody among us or the Jewish rulers believed in him? But this crowd, which is ignorant of the Law, is cursed!”
Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had previously spoken with Jesus in secret, said “The Law doesn’t condemn a man before it knows what he’s doing, or before he has a chance to testify, does it?”
“Are you also from Galilee?” they questioned. “Check for yourself and learn that no prophet ever comes from Galilee.”
Everyone went home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
JN 7:45-53 and JN 8:1
An adulteress is forgiven
Jesus went to the Temple complex at dawn. A large crowd gathered around him. He began to teach them after he sat down.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman into the center of the gathering. She had been caught committing adultery.
They said “Teacher, this woman was caught committing adultery. The Law of Moses says that we should stone her for this. What do you say we should do?” They said this because they wanted to corner him into breaking the Law so they would have a crime to charge him with.
Jesus leaned over and began writing in the dirt with his finger. They kept questioning him, so he stood up and said “Whichever one of you who has led a sinless life should throw the first stone at her.”
He crouched back down and started writing on the ground again. Having heard this, the scribes and Pharisees started leaving, with the older men leaving first. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left, with her standing in the center.
Jesus stood up and said “Woman, where are they? Is no one here to condemn you?”
“There is no one, Lord,” she answered.
“I do not condemn you either,” he said. “Go, and don’t sin again.”
The light of the world
Jesus said “I am the light of the world. If you follow me you will never stumble around in the dark because you will have the light of life.”
The Pharisees said, “Your testimony isn’t valid because you are testifying about yourself.”
Jesus replied, “What I say about myself is true because I know where I came from and where I’m going. You don’t know either of these things about me. You make your judgments based on earthly standards, while I don’t judge at all. If I did, my judgment would be valid because I don’t act on my own, but with my Father who sent me. In your own Law it says that the testimony of two men is valid. I testify about myself, and my Father testifies about me.”
“So where is your father?” they challenged.
“You don’t know either one of us.” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you’d know my Father as well.” He said all this while standing near the treasury when he was teaching in the Temple complex. Nobody arrested him because it wasn’t yet the time for this to happen to him.
Jesus predicts his departure
Then Jesus again said “I’m leaving; you’ll search for me, and die in your sinfulness. You won’t be able to follow me where I’m going.”
The Jewish authorities said “He isn’t planning on suicide, is he, when he says ‘You won’t be able to follow me where I’m going.’?”
Jesus told them “You are from the earth, while I am from heaven. You are of this world, while I am not. This is why I said you will die in your sinfulness – because you don’t believe in who I am.”
“Who are you, then?” they asked.
“Exactly what I’ve been saying from the start,” Jesus told them. There are many things I could say and pass judgment about you, but I won’t now. The One who sent me is true. I will tell the world what He has told me.”
They did not realize he was speaking about God. So Jesus said “When you raise up the Son of Man, then you will know who I am, and that I don’t do anything on my own. I say whatever the Father has taught me. The One who sent me is here with me and has never left because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Truth and freedom
Many people believed that Jesus was the Messiah while he was saying these things. Jesus said to them, “If you follow my message, you really are my disciples. You will know the truth, and it will free you.”
Some people in the crowd said “We are descended from Abraham. We’ve never been anybody’s slave. How can you say we will be freed?”
Jesus replied, “This is the truth: everyone who sins is a slave to it. A slave doesn’t always stay in his master’s house, but a son does. Therefore if the Son releases you, you are free to go. I know that you are descended from Abraham, yet you want to kill me because you don’t welcome my message. I speak about what my Father has shown me. You do what your father has told you.”
“Abraham is our father!” they exclaimed.
Jesus said “If Abraham really was your father, you’d do what he did. But you are trying to kill me – someone who has spoken the truth of God that he heard. Abraham didn’t act like this! You are acting just like your father.”
“We aren’t illegitimate,” they replied. “Our father is the One God.”
“If God really were your father,” Jesus replied, “you would love me because I have come from God. God sent me – I’m not here on my own. Why can’t you understand what I’m saying? Because you can’t hear my message. Your father is the Devil, and you want to do what he wants. From the very beginning he was a murderer and he hates the truth because he is full of lies. It is his very nature to lie, because he lies all the time and creates liars. Yet you don’t believe me because I tell the truth. Which one of you can accuse me of any sin? Why don’t you believe me when I tell you the truth? Anyone who is from God hears God’s word. You don’t hear what I have to say because you are not God’s children.”
Jesus and Abraham
The Jewish leaders said “Aren’t you a Samaritan? Aren’t you possessed?”
Jesus replied “I’m not possessed. In fact, I show honor to my Father, and you dishonor me. I’m not trying to gain any glory for myself. God wants me to have glory, and is the One who judges. I assure you: if you follow my teaching you’ll never die.”
Then the Jewish leaders said “Now we know you are possessed. Abraham and all the prophets have all died. You say ‘If you follow my teaching you’ll never die’. Are you more powerful than our father Abraham who has died, along with all the prophets? Who do you think you are?”
Jesus answered, “If I praise myself, it means nothing. My Father – the One you claim is your God, He is the One who praises me. You don’t know him, but I do. If I said I don’t know him, I’d be a liar just like you. But I do know him, and I do what he says. Your father Abraham eagerly looked forward to this time – he rejoiced to see it come.”
The Jewish leaders said “You aren’t even 50 years old yet, and you’re saying you’ve seen Abraham?!”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied “before Abraham ever existed, I am.”
When they heard this, the leaders picked up stones to hurl at him, but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple complex.
The return of the 70
The 70 disciples returned, joyfully reporting to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons submit to us when we use your name!”
He said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy. You can walk on snakes and scorpions and nothing will ever harm you. However, don’t celebrate about the fact that spirits submit to you. The important thing is that your names are known in heaven.”