The triumphal entry
Then they went on to Jerusalem. Near the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent ahead two of his disciples, saying “Go into the next village. As soon as you enter the village you will find a young donkey that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it to me. If anyone asks you why you are doing this, say ‘The Lord needs it, and will send it right back.'”
The two disciples left and did as Jesus had asked them. They found everything as he had told them they would. This fulfilled the prophecy that was spoken by Isaiah, which said “Tell daughter Zion, ‘See, your King is coming to you, riding humbly on a donkey’s colt!'”
His disciples did not recognize the significance of what was going on at the time. However, after Jesus was raised from the dead, they remembered this prophecy and that it had been fulfilled in their presence.
They returned to Jesus, laid their cloaks on the donkey, and helped Jesus up so he could sit on it. The crowds began to place their cloaks and leafy branches from the nearby trees on the road.
When he approached the path that went down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd began to loudly praise God because of all the miracles they had seen, such as the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead. They were chanting “Hosanna! Blessed is the King who comes on the name of the Lord! Praise God in heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees said “Teacher, make your followers be quiet!”
Jesus answered, “Even if they were to be quiet, the stones would speak for them!”
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was abuzz, saying “Who is this?” The crowds with Jesus answered “This is the Messiah, the Son of David, our King!”
The Pharisees were very angry, realizing that all they had done to discredit Jesus hadn’t worked. They said “Look! The whole world is following him!”
Because it was late, Jesus and his followers briefly looked around at everything in the Temple area and then went out to Bethany.
MT 21:1-11, JN 12:12-19, MK 11:1-11, LK 19:28-40
Jesus’ love for Jerusalem
Jesus wept when he saw Jerusalem, saying “If only you could see the salvation that has come to you today, but your eyes have been closed. The time will come when your enemies shall build mounds of earth against your walls and block you in with their troops. They will crush everyone inside your walls to the ground, and then level your buildings. Not even one stone will be left atop another. And this will all be because you did not recognize salvation when it came to you.”
Jesus again predicts his crucifixion
Some Greeks had come to Jerusalem to participate in the Passover festival. They went to Philip, who was from the village of Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested to see Jesus.
Philip told Andrew and they then went together to tell Jesus.
Jesus told them “It is now time for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, unless a kernel of wheat is put into the ground and dies to its nature, it remains just a kernel of wheat. But if it dies to its nature, it produces a large crop.
Anyone who loves his life will lose it, and anyone who hates his earthly life will have the same life eternally. To be my servant is to follow me. My servant is wherever I am. If you serve me, you will be honored by my Father. Now I am troubled in my soul. Should I ask the Father to rescue me from what is coming? But what is coming is why I’m here. Father, may your name be glorified!”
Then a voice came from heaven, saying “I have already glorified it, and I will give glory to it again!” Some in the crowd thought they heard thunder, while others said “An angel just spoke to him!”
Jesus said “That voice was for your benefit, not mine. This is now the time when the world will be judged. This is now the time when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be overthrown. As for me, I will draw all people to me when I am raised up.”
The crowd replied “The Law says that the Messiah will never leave. So why do you say that the Son of Man must be raised up? Who is the Son of Man?”
“The light will soon leave you,” Jesus answered. “You should walk while the light is still here so you don’t get caught in darkness. Anyone who walks in darkness gets lost. Believe in the light while you still have it so you can become children of light.”
After saying this, Jesus retreated and hid from the crowd.
Isaiah’s prophecies fulfilled
They still didn’t believe in him even though he performed many miracles in front of them. However, this fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which said “Lord, who has believed what we have said? And who has witnessed the strength of the Lord?”
Isaiah explained why they were unable to believe when he said “He has closed their eyes and their hearts, so they could not see or understand, otherwise they would turn to me and be healed.” Isaiah said this when he saw His glory.
In spite of this, many people did believe that Jesus was the Messiah, even including some of the rulers. However, they didn’t publicly admit this because the Pharisees had threatened to ban people from the synagogue if they did. They loved to get praise from men rather than getting glory from God.
A summary of Jesus’ mission
Jesus shouted “If you believe in me, you really believe in the One who sent me, and if you see me, you really see the One who sent me. I am here to be a light for the world, so that everyone who follows me will no longer be in darkness. I don’t judge anyone who hears my message and doesn’t follow it. I have come to save the world – not to judge it. Anyone who rejects me and my message is judged at the last day by my message. I don’t speak for myself. The One who sent me tells me what to say. I know that the Father’s words lead to eternal life, so I share the Father’s message exactly as I have received it.”
Cleaning out the Temple
Jesus went up to Jerusalem because it was nearing the time for the festival of Passover. When he reached the Temple complex he found money changers and people selling the animals that the Jews bought to sacrifice there to atone for their sins. He made a whip of cords and drove everyone and their animals out, even overturning the money tables. He would not permit anyone to bring in anything to sell there. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, he said “‘My house will be a house of prayer for all people,’ but you have made it into a den of thieves! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!”
Seeing this, the disciples recalled this verse from the psalmist: “Devotion for God’s house will consume me.”
He was teaching and healing there every day. Children cheered out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” The temple leaders said “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus answered “Haven’t you read the Scriptures? ‘From the lips of children The Lord has called forth praise’?”
The chief priests, scribes, and elders started looking for ways to undermine him. They were afraid of him because the crowd of people there was captivated by what he taught.
All the Temple leaders challenged Jesus, saying “Who gave you authority to do these things?”
Jesus said “Answer me this and I’ll tell you: was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”
They debated amongst themselves, saying “If we say from heaven, then he’ll challenge us, saying ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say it was from men, the crowd will get angry with us because they thought John was a true prophet.” To be safe, they said “We don’t know.”
Jesus said “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Jesus also told them “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will restore it in three days.”
The Temple leaders looked at him like he was crazy. “This Temple took 46 years to build! Who are you to say you can do all this in three days?” But Jesus was talking about the sanctuary of his body. Later, after he was resurrected, his disciples remembered these words.
MT 21:12-17, MT 23-27, MK 11:15-19, MK 27-33, LK 19:45-48, 20:1-8, JN 2:13-22
Many people believed in Jesus while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival because of the miracles he was doing. Jesus, however, did not fully reveal himself to them because he knew the true nature of mankind.
The fig tree and faith
Jesus was hungry one morning on the road back from Bethany. He saw a solitary fig tree in the distance, but found only leaves on it and no fruit when he went up to it. It was not the season for figs.
Angrily he said “May you never bear fruit again!” Quickly the fig tree withered and the disciples were amazed. They asked him how it was possible for it to wither so quickly.
He said “Nothing is impossible with faith. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can tell a mulberry tree or a mountain to uproot itself and move, even into the sea, and it will. You have to believe that what you ask for will happen and it will. Pray as if you have already received everything you ask for. Also, while you are praying, be sure to forgive anyone that you have a grudge against so that your Father in heaven will forgive you as well. If you don’t forgive them then God won’t forgive you.”
MT 21:18-22, MK 11:12-14, MK 11:20-26, LK 17:6, MT 17:20-21
The parable of the two sons
“What do you think about this story? There was once a man who had two sons. He asked the first one to work in the vineyard, and the son refused, yet later he changed his mind and went to work. When the man asked his second son to work in the vineyard, that son said he would but then he didn’t go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they replied.
“Mark my words: tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of heaven before any of you! John the Baptist came to warn you about your evil ways and you didn’t repent and return to God. The tax collectors and prostitutes did. Even when you saw this happening for yourself, you refused to change your minds and believe John’s message.”
The parable of the vineyard owner
Jesus began to teach them again using parables.
“There once was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a fence around it and included a winepress and a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and then he went away for a very long time. When it was harvest time, he sent his servant to the farmers so that he could collect some fruit from them. Instead of giving him fruit, the farmers beat the servant and sent him away with nothing. The landowner sent another servant and they treated him just as badly. Then the landowner sent a third servant and the farmers killed him. He sent other servants, and they were all either beaten or killed.
Finally he decided to send his much-loved son, thinking ‘Surely they will respect him.’ But the tenant farmers talked amongst themselves and decided that since this was the heir they should kill him and collect the inheritance for themselves. They did just that and then threw him out of the vineyard. Because of their shameful behavior, the owner of the vineyard went there himself to destroy the farmers and let other people manage his land and crops.”
Jesus asked the religious leaders if they had ever heard the verse from scripture that says ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. The Lord has done this and it is wonderful to see!”
“Therefore, it follows that the kingdom of God will be taken away from the original tenants and given to those who are good stewards and can produce healthy fruit. All who stumble on this rock shall be broken, and all those who this rock falls on will be ground to dust!”
The chief priests and scribes started to look for a way to arrest him because they knew he was speaking these words against them. However, they were afraid of the crowds because they regarded him as a prophet, so they left him alone for the time being.
MT 21:33-46, MK 12:1-12, LK 20:9-19
God and Caesar
Then the Pharisees began to plot, trying to trap him by his words. They sent some of their disciples along with some of the members of a Jewish political party. They wanted to get him arrested by the civil authorities.
They said to him “Teacher, we know that you correctly teach God’s laws and that you treat everyone the same, regardless of who they are. Tell us your opinion on this, then: according to the Law, are we supposed to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Jesus knew what they were up to and said “Why are you testing me? Show me a denarius. Whose picture and name is on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they all said.
“You have your answer,” Jesus said. “Give back to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and give back to God the things that belong to God.”
They were all speechless at his answer.
MT 22:15-22, MK 12:13-17, LK 20:20-26
The Sadducees and the resurrection
The same day, some Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection approached Jesus to challenge him on the Law of Moses.
“Teacher, Moses taught us that if a married man dies childless, his brother must marry his wife and have children with her, because legally, they are his brother’s children. For instance, once there were seven brothers. The first married and died childless. The second brother married her and he too died without having any children. One after the other, all seven of the brothers married this same woman and died, leaving her childless. Then she finally died. Therefore, when the resurrection happens, whose wife will she be, since she had been married to all seven of them?”
“None of you know the Scriptures or the power of God,” Jesus said. “People in this age marry and are given in marriage, but it won’t be like that in the age to come. In the resurrection, people are like angels. There is no need for them to marry.”
He continued, getting to the real reason for their question. “Concerning the resurrection of the dead, don’t you remember the passage in Scriptures when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush? He said ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ We learn from this that God is the God of the living, not the dead, because in God’s eyes, all are living with him.”
They were impressed with what he had just taught them, and no longer dared to question him.
MT 22:23-33, MK 12:18-27, LK 20:27-40
The primary commandments
The Pharisees went to where Jesus was when they heard how he had refuted the Sadducees. An expert in the Law challenged Jesus asking him, “Which commandment is the most important?”
Jesus answered “‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all of your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second commandment is like it –‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There are no commandments greater than these two. All the teachings of the Prophets and the Law base their foundation upon these two commandments.”
The man who questioned him said “You are correct, Teacher! You spoke the truth when you said that there is only One God, and that we are to love God with all of our being, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. These practices are far more important that all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Because of the wisdom of his answer, Jesus said to him “You are not far from entering the kingdom of God. You have answered correctly. If you do these things you will live.”
The authorities did not dare to challenge him any further.
MT 22:34-40, MK 12:28-34, LK 10:25-28
The parable of the good Samaritan
There was a man who wanted to justify his actions and said “Who is my neighbor?”
Jesus answered him by telling a parable. “There once was a Jewish man who was attacked by robbers as he was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. They took all of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him lying half dead on the side of the road. When a priest walked down that same road and saw him, he crossed over to the other side and walked on by. After that a Levite did the same thing. Then a Samaritan, sworn enemy of the Jews, noticed him and had compassion. He kneeled beside him and put healing ointments and bandages on his wounds. Then he put the man on the animal he had been riding. Walking all the way, he led the donkey to an inn and continued to take care of the man throughout the night. The next day he gave the innkeeper two days’ worth of room and board. He said ‘Please take care of him. I’ll pay you back when I return if the bill is any higher.’”
Jesus asked, “Which of the three people would you say was a neighbor to the man who had been waylaid by the robbers?”
The man replied, “The one who showed him compassion.”
Jesus told him “Go and do likewise.”
The question about the Messiah
Jesus asked this question while he taught in the Temple complex, “Why do the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David says in the Psalms ‘God said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.’ Since David called him his Lord, how can the Messiah be his son?” The large crowd was delighted with this teaching.
MT 22:41-46, MK 12:35-37, LK 20:41-44
Religious hypocrites discredited
Then Jesus said to the crowds and his disciples “The Jewish leaders and the Pharisees have the authority of Moses. Therefore, follow their rules and do what they say to do. But make sure not to follow their example because they don’t practice what they preach.”
“It is terrible to be them, because they load people with heavy burdens that are hard to carry when they give them all these rules, yet they themselves can’t be bothered to lift those same burdens with even a finger.”
MT 23:4, LK 11:46
“They evict widows from their homes and say long prayers just to show off. God will punish them more than others because of this.”
MT 23:14, LK 20:47, MK 12:40
“They do everything to show off how pious they are so they will be noticed by others. They wear long robes and make their tefillin and tzitzit bigger than necessary. They love it when they have the front seat in the synagogue and the seat of honor at a banquet. They are pleased when they are recognized and greeted in the marketplace and people call them Rabbi.”
MT 23:5-7, LK 11:43, LK 20:45-46, MK 12:38-39
“But as for you, don’t be called Rabbi or Teacher, because you have one Teacher, and that is God, and you are all equal like brothers. Don’t call anyone on earth your father because you have one Father, and that is God. And do not be called Master, because you have only one Master, and that is the Messiah. To be the greatest, be a servant. Whoever raises himself up will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be raised up.”
“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You make it impossible for people to enter the kingdom of heaven, because you have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves don’t go in, and you don’t allow those who are entering to go in either.”
MT 23:13, LK 11:52
“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel far and wide to convert one person, and then when he is converted, you make him twice as damned as you are.”
“Beware, you blind guides, who say it means nothing if you take an oath ‘by the Temple’, but then say if you swear by the gold of the Temple, it is binding. You are blind fools! What is greater, the gold, or the Temple that makes the gold holy? You also say that it means nothing if you take an oath ‘by the altar,’ but then say that if you take an oath by the gifts on the altar it is binding! You fools and blind people! What is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? Therefore, the person who takes an oath by the altar takes an oath by it and everything on it, and when you take an oath by the Temple you are taking an oath by it and by God who dwells in it, and the person who makes an oath by heaven makes it by the throne of God and by the One who sits on it.”
“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You make sure to ritually clean the outside of the cup and dish, but you are full of greed, evil, and self-indulgence inside! You are blind fools! Didn’t the One who made the outside make the inside as well? First clean the inside of the cup and dish so the outside will also become clean. Donate to charity from your heart first and then everything will be clean for you.”
MT 23:25-26, LK 11:39-41
“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You make sure to tithe a tenth of your mint, dill, cumin, rue, and every other kind of herb, and yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law such as justice, mercy, and love for God. You should have taken care of these without neglecting the rest. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet you swallow a camel!”
MT 23:23-24, LK 11:42
“Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves. People walk over you not even knowing that they have become defiled.”
“Woe to you! You are like whitewashed mausoleums, which appear beautiful on the outside but are full of impurity on the inside. You appear on the outside like righteous men, yet on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and sin.”
“Beware, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. You say ‘If we had lived in the time of our fathers, we wouldn’t have shed the prophet’s blood along with them.’ You therefore testify against yourselves that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets! Fill up on the measure of your fathers’ sins. You are witnesses that you approve of what your fathers did because they killed the prophets and now you build monuments to them.”
MT 23:29-32, LK 11:47-48
“You are a nest of snakes! How can you escape from the fires of hell? This is why the wisdom of God said ‘I will send them prophets, sages, scribes, and apostles. Some of them will be killed, persecuted and crucified, and some of them you will beat in your synagogues and chase from town to town. This will mean that this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that was shed since the beginning of the world – from the blood of righteous Abel all the way to Zechariah, son of Berechiah, who you murdered in the Temple between the altar and the sanctuary. Mark my words: this generation will be held responsible!”
MT 23:33-36, LK 11:49-51
The scribes, Pharisees, and experts in the Law all felt insulted and furious. From that moment on they began to challenge Jesus about matters of Jewish Law, trying to trap him into saying something wrong so they could bring charges against him.
Jesus said “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The city who kills the prophets and stones everyone that God sends to her. I have often wanted to gather your children together like how a hen gathers her chicks under her wings for protection, yet you wouldn’t let me. And now your house is left empty. Mark my words: you will not see me again until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”
MT 23:37-39, LK 13:34-35
The widow’s gift
Jesus was sitting across from the tithe box at the Temple. He saw all the people dropping their money into it. The rich were putting in a lot. A poor widow came along and put in just two tiny coins, barely enough to buy a loaf of bread. Jesus called his disciples to notice this and said “Truly, this poor widow has donated far more than anyone else. They had given out of their excess, but she has given out of her lack. She has given everything that she has to live on.”
MK 12:41-44, LK 21:1-4