THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, we ended with the parable of the labors in the kingdom in Matthew 20. This next section we will be looking out, is covered in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I am going to read Markís and Lukeís account because they both offer additional information, but they both cover what was said in Matthewís account.
Mark 10:32 Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him:† 33 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles;† 34 "and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again."
Luke 18:31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.† 32 "For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.† 33 "They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again."† 34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.
These verses give us a complete picture of what is going on. You will notice that it says they will go up to Jerusalem. When the Bible speaks of directions or even elevations, it is always spot on. Since Jerusalem is on a hill, one has to travel up to it. When it says they were amazed and afraid, it is talking about the disciples. We have already seen how Jesusí disciples accustomed to Jesus putting Himself in harmís way, but this time Jesus is heading back into Jerusalem where the opposing Jews are waiting for Him. They are afraid because they know this may be the end for Jesus and for them.
Many times throughout Jesusí ministry, He told His disciples that He would be put to death and be raised again, but this is probably the clearest He has ever stated it and He gives lots of details about what is going to happen to Him.
1. He points out that everything that is going to happen to Him was predicted by the prophets and that He we accomplish what they predicted.
2. He will be betrayed, which was done by Judas, and He will be handed over to the chief priest and scribes. Since they cannot kill Jesus by Roman law, they will hand him over to Pilate who is a Gentile.
3. They will mock Him, scourge Him, spit on Him and kill Him.
4. In 3 days, He will rise again.
Now you would think that it would be impossible for His apostles to misunderstand this clear teaching, but Luke tells us that this saying was hidden from them, in other words, they could not see the truth that was right in front of their faces. My opinion of why they would not allow this teaching to open their eyes was because they were too focused on what they wanted, which was an earthly kingdom, and they cannot see their king dying, so they would ignore such an easy to understand teachings. This should not surprise us because there are many today who will not listen to what the Scriptures actually say, instead they will hear what they want to hear or follow what a man said. For example, how many people do you know that call themselves a Christian, but say that baptism is not necessary for salvation? Though you can take them to several verses that prove that it is necessary, they will ignore it or try to explain it away.
Let us make sure that we do not find ourselves doing this because it is easy to say that you believe something because feel like it is right, but we should not base things on how we feel, we must base it on what Godís Word says.
Another thing our verses show is that it was no surprise that Jesus would be put to death. Those who teach the rapture doctrine have to teach that Jesus failed to become king when He came because the people would not follow Him, so He would have come back later to reign over His kingdom for 1000 years. In the meantime, we have the church instead. So, our verses teach against such a view because the prophets foretold this would happen. Jesus did not fail, and He would accomplish exactly what He was supposed to.
Our next topic is found in Matthew and Markís account. Both accounts are basically the same except for the very beginning, which I will show now.
Mark 10:35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask."† 36 And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
Matthew 20:20 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.† 21 And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom."
It is little things like this that sometimes people will jump on and say that there are contradictions in Scripture because in Markís account it says that their mother asked the question, but Matthewís account says that James and John asked the question. So, which is it? Well, the answer is that all three of them were together when they came to Jesus, but the mother was asking the question for her sons. Markís account, simply summarizes the fact that this request was actual these menís request that their mother verbally made for them.
I cannot say this dogmatically, but their mother, Salome, may have been the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. If that is true, then James and John were Jesusí cousins and perhaps they thought if Jesusí aunt requested that one of them sits at Jesusí right and left side that He would do it. To sit at one left and right would make them two of the most important people in the kingdom, which once again shows that the disciples still had their minds on an earthly kingdom instead of a heavenly one.
You will also notice that Jesus did not just openly say that He will give them whatever they asked for like Herod did when he cut off John the Baptistís head. So, there is some wisdom in this, which is do not say you will do something when you do not know the details of what is involved.
Next, Jesus speaks directly to the two brothers.
Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able."† 23 So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father."
What is Jesus talking about here? What cup is He going drink and what
baptism is He going to be baptized with? Wasnít He already baptized? What Jesus
is talking about here is all the suffering He is going to be immersed when He
is put to death on the cross. When He talks about drinking the cup, this too is
associated with suffering because when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane
before He was arrested, He prayed three times:
Matthew 26:39 †"O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
It is true that the apostles thought they were ready to die for the cause of Christ, so it does not surprise me that they said they we able to do drink this cup and be baptized as He was, but we all know that they were over confident because later they would all scatter from Christ. Of course, that was temporary, and all the apostles did suffer a great deal during their lives, and according to tradition most of the apostles lost their lives in a very painful way.
Regardless of what kind of death they faced, Jesus lets them know there is not going to be any favoritism just because these mensí mother made this request because this decision will be made by the Father. Whatever the decision is, we can know that it will be a just decision. Next, Jesus says:
Matthew 20:24 †And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.
Why were the other 10 displeased? Was it because they wished they had made the request first? After all, we have already seen them discussing who would be the greatest in the kingdom before. Whatever it was that displeased them about this, Jesus says this next:
Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.† 26 "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.† 27 "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave --† 28 "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
When it comes to an earthly kingdom, positions of power are highly desired.
Ones importance is based on his position, which what the disciples kept having
in mind because they still had their minds on an earthly kingdom, but Jesus
teaches them again about how this is not how it is in His kingdom. If you want
to be a great Christian, then you will be a servant or a slave to all, just
like Jesus was.
Jesus gave up the riches of heaven to serve us and to even give His life for us because only He could reconcile us to God. That is what greatness is all about. As Christians, it is not about being a powerful person who has risen up among the ranks of Christians, it is about living for God and serving others to glorify God through the things we do. Jesus put it best when He said:
Luke 17:10 †"So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.' "
Our next event is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This is another account where each writer offers additional information that the others do not. This is another account that some like to say there is a contradiction, but what we need to understand that just because one account offers additional information it is not a contradiction, it just simply gives more details. Sometimes, the writer gives a different perspective, which can be affected by who the writer was writing to.
A true contradiction has no plausible way to explain it. For example, if I say there is only one candy bar left, but then I say in the next sentence there are two candy bars left that is a contradiction. However, if I tell one person to go to my truck, which is blue, and then I tell another person to go my truck, which is blue with a white tail gate, I have not contradicted myself, I have just given more details about my truck to the second person. So, keep this thought in mind as we examine the difference in this next account. Markís account gives us the most unique version of this event, but the other accounts do have extra things that Markís account does not. Letís begin with the first part of our story from all three accounts.
Matthew 20:29 Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.† 30 And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!"† 31 Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!"
Mark 10:46 Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.† 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"† 48 Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Luke 18:35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.† 36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.† 37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.† 38 And he cried out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"† 39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
We have two major differences in these few verses. First, Matthew tells us there are 2 blind men and Mark and Luke just talks about one blind man, and Markís account even tells us the name of the blind and who his father was. This one is easy to explain because Matthew tends to mention more details when it comes to the number of people being spoken of, but Mark and Luke chose to focus on one of these blind men instead of both. Now had they said there was only one blind man and Matthew said two then we would have a contradiction, but they did not say this, they just put the focus on the one blind man and not the other. Why, did they do this, I cannot say for sure, but as we will see, the end result will be the same because another great miracle will be done.
Our second difference has to with the location. Matthew and Mark both say Jesus had gone out of Jericho when this event happened and Lukeís account says that He was coming near Jericho. On the surface, this might seem like an actual contradiction, but is not because there is a plausible explanation for this difference. For example, notice what Coffman says:
The problem of the time or place of this miracle, whether as Christ was leaving or entering Jericho, disappears in the light of what is certainly known about that locality. A. T. Robertson said:
The discrepancy as to place, "as he went out from Jericho," or "as he drew nigh to Jericho," is best explained by the recent suggestion that the healing occurred after he left old Jericho, and as he was approaching the new Jericho which Herod the Great had built at some distance away.
Thus, as always, alleged contradictions flow out of men's ignorance of all the facts, not out of any real errors by the sacred writers. Add to Robertson's observation the obvious and undeniable fact that, with two Jericho's close together, any blind beggar would naturally choose a site between them! Both and all three gospels are correct. He was entering one Jericho, leaving the other. Far from being any problem, therefore, these separate accounts are overwhelming proof that the gospel writers are independent witnesses and completely trustworthy. (Coffman Commentary on Matthew).
There was only about a mile that separated these two locations, so it makes sense that these blind men would position themselves here to have the greatest amount people walking by so that they might get some help. So, both of the major differences in these accounts have been explained. †††††††††
Back to the story, Jesus is walking along with a crowd following Him, and these blind men cry out to Jesus "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!" This is quite the statement because these blind minds are basically acknowledging that Jesus is the Messiah. Many of those who were with Jesus continued to rebuke these blind men telling them to be quite. We are not told why, but some have thought that it was because of what they said about Jesus being the Messiah and that those who were telling them to be quite were probably some of the opposing Pharisees who always seemed to follow Jesus as well just so they could keep an eye on Him or try to say something to stir up the crowd against Him. Whatever the reason was, these blind men would not listen to them, and they cried out to Jesus even more.
Who could blame them? If I were blind and I had heard about how Jesus had healed other blind men, I would do my best to get His attention as well.
Mark 10:49 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, "Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you."† 50 And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.† 51 So Jesus answered and said to him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man said to Him, "Rabboni, that I may receive my sight."† 52 Then Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
This was a great day for these
blind men. They got Jesusí attention and He commanded that they be brought to
Him. Then crown told them to be of good cheer because Jesus was a calling for
them. Mark tells us that Bartimeeus throws his garment to the side and gets up
and goes to Jesus. Though Jesus asked Him what He wants Him to do, we all know
that Jesus knew exactly what this man wanted, but as usual, He wants this man
to express what he wants, which is that he can receive his sight. From
Matthewís account, we know that this was said by both blind men.
Jesus says that they had faith in Him, and their faith has healed them. Why, because their belief caused them to seek out Jesus to heal their blindness, and so He did. They were so happy about being healed, they choose follow Jesus. Luke adds this:
Luke 18:43 †And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
It is moments like these that caused more and more people to believe that Jesus was exactly who they thought He was. What a wonderful event to see firsthand. I could certainly see in my mind just how happy the two blind men were and how happy these people were who saw this great miracle happen.
Next, we learn about Zacchaeus who is only recorded by Luke.
Luke 19:1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.† 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.† 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.† 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.
This man was a chief tax collector, which can mean he was over a group of tax collectors or he obtained a higher rank in the tax collector system. We learn that he was a very rich man. He had a great desire to just catch a glimpse of Jesus, but due to height, he had to run and climb a tree to get up high enough to see Jesus as He passed by.
Luke 19:5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house."† 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.
Zacchaeus got more than he bargained for because he just hoped to have a glimpse of Jesus, but Jesus sees him and call him by name and even goes to His house. This just goes to show you, whether you are a blind beggar or a rich man, Jesus cares for you and wants to be part of your life.†
Luke 19:7 †But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner."† 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold."† 9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;† 10 "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
We learn that this man is Jew because Jesus says that he is a son of Abraham. We know that the Jews despised the tax collectors, and they considered them as the worst kind of sinner who does not deserve to ever be called a son of Abraham. We can see the disdain from some of those from the crowd who complained about Jesus going to a sinnerís house. Of course, this was not the first time Jesus has been accused of such.
Unlike the rich young ruler, Jesus spoke to earlier, this rich man was motivated to do that which was right. Jesus, is the one who made the difference in his life. He proclaims that right now he will give half his goods to the poor and, if he has taken anything from anyone in a false way he will give it back four fold, which is what the Law of Moses demanded (Ex. 22:1). Though some disagree on whether or not Zacchaeus was making a public confession of doing wrong, to me it seems clear that he was, because he was ready to repent and to make things right. I think this is backed up by Jesus saying that salvation had come to his house because Jesus was always seeking to save those who were lost. †††††
If you remember from our last lesson, Jesus said it was easier for† a camel to go through the eye of† a sewing needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, well,† Zacchaeus would be the exception because he now has the right attitude about life, which is putting God first.
In conclusion, I hope this lesson has taught you that we have to be careful that we do not allow our opinions to blind us from the truth. If you want to be the greatest in the kingdom of the God, then be a slave to all. Though some like to say there are contradictions in the Bible, there are none, and all alleged contradictions have a plausible explanation. Finally, I hoped you learned that whether you are rich, poor, young or old, Jesus wants to be part of your life. No one person is better than another, and we call be part of Godís family if we are willing to turn to Him obey Godís plan of salvation and live the rest of our lives making Him our number one priority.