The Life Of Jesus:
My Time Has Come
Tell Us Plainly
Jesus is very careful never to call himself Christos, the Messiah. In public, he always refers to himself as the “Son of Man.” The Jews understand this is a Messianic title, but the Romans do not, so the religious leaders keep pressing Jesus to be plain--to call himself “Messiah.”
What he says in reply nearly gets him stoned. Again.
Jesus is the guest of honor at a hoity-toity Sabbath meal with high-ranking lawyers and Pharisees. I bet you can guess that Jesus says some pretty uncomfortable things to them, and he does it with parables. Jesus is down to his last few months. He’s got to get his points across in a way these folks will remember.
John 1:9-18; 10:22-42
A Prodigal Son & A Dishonest Manager
Each and every one of us is known by God. We are seen and we are cherished. When the scribes and Pharisees deride Jesus for hanging out with unworthy people, Jesus tells them three parables demonstrating the prodigal love of God (“prodigal” means wasteful, reckless extravagance)!
The most famous of these is the story of the prodigal son. As with most parables, there’s more to it than you might remember from childhood stories.
Jesus follows this with a really crazy parable directed at the disciples, where he tells them to be more like a dishonest manager. Say, what?!?
Matthew 18:10-14; (6:19-24 reprise)
Luke 15; 16:1-15
The Rich And The Poor,
The Harsh And The Forgiving
Jesus tells the story of a rich man and a poor man and what happens to them after death. It’s an old familiar story drawn from the culture of the Ancient Near East, but Jesus gives it a new punchline.
Then he talks about how serious it is when we lay traps for other people and for ourselves. This is apparently a VERY big deal to God, with roots all the way back in the Hebrew Bible. Jesus ties it all to the importance of forgiving each other.
We talk some more about life after death vs. life now. There’s a lot of meat in here.
Matthew (5:17-20 reprise); 18:6-9, 21-35
Luke 16:16-31, 17:1-4
Justified & Elect
Jesus teaches a lot about the difference between being self-righteous and actually doing righteousness. “Righteous” in Greek is synonymous with “justice,” so it makes sense that Jesus uses a parable about a poor widow in court.
He warns the disciples not to be proud. He reminds them they are just doing their job. They must not be like the self-righteous Pharisee who prays out loud that he is so thankful he’s not like the sinners in the room!
In fact, Jesus says it is people like the widow who are “elect” and people like tax-collectors who humble themselves to pray for God’s mercy who are “justified.” This is the first time we encounter these terms, so we begin to unpack some of the baggage many Christians carry over this.
Luke 17:5-37; 18:1-30
Lazarus Is Raised From The Dead
Jesus raises one of his best friends from the dead and thoroughly awes the crowds, which in turn sets off alarm bells for all the powers that be. Fearing that Rome is about to step in and crush the Jewish nation, the religious leaders call an emergency meeting. Caiaphus, the High Priest, declares that Jesus must die so the entire nation does not perish. There’s just one problem--they have to catch him alone, away from the crowds who increasingly believe he is the Messiah.
Jesus calls his disciples aside to give them the bad news (again) that he will die soon. They, like the people, still have trouble believing it. The mother of two of the disciples even asks Jesus to be sure to give her sons places of honor as soon as he gets to be King.
There's Enough Mercy For Everyone
Jesus is trying so hard to teach his disciples to be as humble as servants. He tells a parable about a landowner who hires day laborers throughout the day and gives a full day’s wage to everyone. The ones who worked only one hour get the same as the ones who worked all day! He tells his disciples, “Don’t resent the blessings of others. Just do your job.”
Then he heals a blind man or two--or rather, their own faith heals them. And we wind up this class series with the story of Zaccheus--one of the most amusing stories in the New Testament.
Matthew 20:1-16, 9:27-31; 20:29-34
Luke 18:35-43; 19:1-10
Separating The Sheep From The Goats
The people think Jesus’ time has come. They are trailing along after Jesus, waiting breathlessly for the Day of the Lord--the great and terrible day when God comes to avenge Israel and deliver her from her enemies. We hear the story of this Day of the Lord as told through the voices of the Hebrew prophets.
Jesus knows the time has not yet come for these things to happen. He tries to prepare the people (and his disciples) to be faithful servants and workers even if the time grows long. To illustrate he tells what happens when the Day finally comes and the just are rewarded and the unjust are condemned to eternal, fiery torment with the devil and his angels.
What do we do with that? How does that fit with Jesus’ other teachings?
Plus lots of prophecies from the Hebrew Bible as Pastor Gayle tells the story of the End Time and the coming of the Messiah as the Jews of Jesus' time would have understood it:
Isaiah 2:3-4; 4:2-4; 11 (excerpts);
24:21-22; 65:17-25; 66:15-20
Joel 2:23ff; 3:12-14
Zechariah 12:10; 14 (excerpts)
Zephaniah 1 (excerpts); 3:8-20
The pressure is mounting. The people are insisting that Jesus become the Messiah King they expect. Jesus does everything he can to dissuade them from this disastrous course of action. He sets up an almost ridiculous way of riding into Jerusalem to try to make his point.
Jesus is, of course, the Messiah--even the stones under his feet know that. But Jesus knows the people have misunderstood and he weeps over their missed opportunity for peace.
We’ve got another intercalation today! Our backpack tools yield surprising fruit once again.
Matthew 21:1-22; 23:37-39
Luke 13:31-35; 19:28-48
John 2:13-17; 12:12-19
The Time Has Come
When Passover pilgrims from as far away as Greece ask to meet Jesus, Jesus suddenly realizes his hour has come, and he experiences trepidation. It is a shock that the time has finally arrived.
He talks about being a grain of wheat, dying so that it might bear fruit. He talks about two sons, noting that doing what the Father asks is more important than just saying you’ll do it. He talks about holding your life and your money loosely--giving what belongs to God to God.
And he talks about wicked, greedy vinedressers who rent a property and then kill the owner’s son when he comes to collect the fruit. Jesus knows what is about to happen to him. And this week we get a glimpse into how he is facing it.
Matthew 17:24-27; 21:23-46; 22:15-22
Mark 11:27-33; 12:1-17
John 2:18-25; 12:20-50
Prepare & Keep Your Eyes Peeled
Jesus has been crossing verbal swords with Pharisees, Herodians, and legal experts. Now the Sadducees pile on with a trick question about the resurrection. Jesus sends them packing with their tail between their legs.
Jesus says, “Don’t be like those guys. Look at that widow who put in the last two coins she had to live on. Her gift is worth more than all the gifts of the rich men.”
Then Jesus sits his disciples down and tells them straight up how bad the situation is. They can expect to be beaten and killed. Jerusalem will be destroyed. Then the Day will come when the “Son of Man” comes in power. It’s a lot to take in. Jesus tells them he doesn’t know when it will happen--they simply need to be prepared and keep their eyes peeled.
Matthew 22:23-46; 23:1-12; 24:1-35; 25:1-13
Mark 12:18-44; 13:1-37
Luke 20:27-47; 21:1-38
The Last Supper (Part 1)
On the day the Passover lambs are slaughtered, Jesus and the disciples gather in an upper room where they can share the Passover meal.
The disciples are still arguing over who’s the greatest so Jesus takes on the role of the humble foot-washing servant to show them how they must be from now on. He gives them a new commandment: Love one another like this!
It is while they are eating this meal that Jesus passes around some unleavened bread and calls it his body, broken for them. And he has them all drink from a cup of wine calling it his blood, being poured out for many.
Judas is unable to bear it any longer. He leaves to betray Jesus.
John 11:55-57; 12:1-11; 13:1-30
The Last Supper (Part 2)
We are in the middle of the Last Supper. Jesus talks about leaving the disciples, and he says they cannot come where he is going. Peter wants to know why he can’t go too! After all, he’d die for Jesus. But Jesus tells him, “You’ll disown me three times this very night.”
Even though they cannot come with him, Jesus tells the disciples they know the path. The words Jesus uses to explain all this are based on the "patronage model" of relationship that was prevalent throughout the Roman Empire. We use this lens to unpack some of Jesus’ words.
Then he says, “Don’t worry. I will come back, and in the meantime, my Father will send another Paracleton to you--the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit--to be with you forever. This Paracleton will teach you all things, and will remind you of all I have said.”
John 13:31-38; 14:1-31
The Last Supper (Part 3)
At the conclusion of the Last Supper, Jesus explains that the disciples can’t do this by themselves. They are like branches on a vine. They have to stay connected to the vine in order to bear fruit.
Jesus reviews the really important stuff:
I am in the Father. You are in me. We have to all stay together.
You can do this even though I am about to go where you cannot see me anymore.
Love each other just like I have loved you.
If you do this, the world will hate you and persecute you.
But don’t worry, I’m sending you a helper, an advocate--the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) to guide and teach you.
And always, always, know you can ask me for anything you need as you go along and I will give it to you, for the Father has given me everything and I freely give it to you.
Be at peace in this.
And then he prays a blessing over his beloved friends.
We cover John 15, 16, and 17.
On Trial Before The Religious Leaders
After they finish the Passover meal, Jesus and the disciples make their way to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives, just across from the Temple gates. There, Jesus tells the disciples to be alert for trouble is coming, but they cannot keep their eyes open. Jesus prays in agony, wrestling with his feelings about his torture and crucifixion. This is not where he wants to go.
Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot has alerted the religious leaders where Jesus can be found, and they send a contingent of soldiers to arrest him. Jesus stops the ensuing violence and is taken to his trial at the hands of the religious elite. It is here, finally, that he tells them openly that he is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.
Peter, in fear for his own life, denies ever even knowing Jesus. When the rooster crows he is overcome with remorse, remembering that Jesus had told him he would fail in this exact way this very night.
Matthew 26:30-32; 36-75
Mark 14:26-28; 32-72
Luke 22:24-30; 35-71
On Trial Before Herod and Pilate
It is the early hours just after dawn. The religious leaders have condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy, but for a public crucifixion they need Roman authority. They bind Jesus and take him to Pilate, the governor of Judea.
Pilate can’t find any reason to crucify Jesus, but upon discovering he’s from Galilee Pilate sends him to Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, who is in Jerusalem for the Passover. Herod can’t get a thing out of Jesus either.
Meanwhile the religious leaders are whipping the crowd into a frenzied, bloodthirsty mob. When the religious leaders tell Pilate, “He has declared himself King, and if you do not sentence him you are no friend of Caesar’s!” Pilate is backed into a corner. He must quell this riot. He must be seen to support Caesar. So he acquiesces and condemns Jesus to death by crucifixion.
John 18:28-40; 19:1-15
Jesus is too weak to drag the crossbar of his cross to the hill of execution so a passing traveler is dragooned into carrying it for him.
He is stripped naked, and his wrists and feet are nailed to the cross. As the soldiers argue about who gets which bit of his clothing, other people jeer and mock Jesus. “If you are the Messiah, save yourself!”
As Jesus dies, he mumbles the first line of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It sounds like God has withdrawn himself from Jesus in his hour of greatest need, but using our backpack tools we discover this is not the case at all!
In the Tomb
Jesus is crucified the day after Passover. It’s a Friday, and since the Passover Festival lasts a whole week, the next day is a High Sabbath. It is imperative to the religious leaders that the bodies of the men crucified not be left over the Sabbath.
They ask and receive special permission to have their legs broken to hasten their death so the bodies can be removed before sundown. But when the soldiers get to Jesus they don’t break his legs because he’s already dead. This makes a lightning connection in John’s mind with the Passover lamb whose bones must not be broken.
Jesus is quickly entombed and as far as we know, nothing else happens until he is resurrected on Sunday morning. So why do people think Jesus went to Hell in the meantime?
Matthew 27:56-66; 28:1
Mark 15:42-47; 16:1-4
Luke 23:50-56; 24:1-3
John 19:31-42; 20:1, 11-17
This final class in the “My Time Has Come” series is all about differences. The four gospels writers tell four different stories of the resurrection each including different characters and events. We look at each one in turn, noticing Mark’s abrupt ending, Matthew’s guards, Luke’s walk to Emmaus, and Peter’s raw responses.
We look at “The Great Commission” in Matthew, the “Ascension” in Luke, and read two different versions of how the disciples receive the Holy Spirit in power.
And these aren’t the only differences--Jesus’ resurrected body is definitely different.
John 20:2-10, 18-31; 21