A Brief Bible History/Section 2/Lesson 10
The Last Journeys
John, Chapter 9
During the latter part of Jesus' ministry, with which Lesson IX began to deal, Jesus spoke some of the most beautiful of his parables. A number of them, such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, are recorded only by Luke. From the same period the Gospel According to John records some notable teaching of Jesus, in addition to that which was mentioned in the last lesson. Part of this teaching was introduced by the healing of the man born blind. John, ch. 9. This miracle, which had been performed on the Sabbath, had aroused the special opposition of the Pharisees. In answer to them, our Lord pointed out the difference between those leaders of the people who are like robbers breaking into the sheepfold or at best like hirelings who flee at the first approach of danger, and the good shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for the sheep. Such a shepherd was Jesus himself, and his life was soon to be laid down.
Finally, after various journeyings of Jesus in Judea and in Perea, there occurred in Bethany a little village near Jerusalem, one of the most notable of our Lord's miracles. John 11:1–44. At Bethany lived a certain Lazarus with his sisters Martha and Mary, whom Jesus knew well. Lazarus fell ill during the absence of Jesus across the Jordan in Perea; and the illness resulted in his death. On the fourth day after Lazarus' death, Jesus came to Bethany. Martha came to meet him; Mary remained mourning in the house, until her sister brought word that Jesus had arrived. Then she, too, went to meet the Lord. When Jesus saw her and her friends weeping for the one who had died, he, too, wept with them. But he had power not only to sympathize, but also to help. Going with the sisters to the tomb, he caused the stone to be removed, then prayed, and then called with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." At the word of Jesus, the dead man came out of the tomb. Jesus was Master over death and the grave.
It was not the first time that our Lord had raised the dead. He had raised the daughter of Jairus in Galilee and the son of the widow of Nain. But the raising of Lazarus is especially important, not only because of the wonderfully vivid way in which the incident is narrated in the Gospel According to John, but also because it served to hasten the crisis in Jerusalem. Both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were now aroused. The movement instituted by Jesus had reached alarming proportions. If allowed to continue it would be full of danger. The Romans, it was feared, would regard it as rebellion and would utterly destroy the nation of the Jews. The diverse parties among the Jewish leaders were becoming more and more united against the strange Prophet from Galilee.
For a short time still the crisis was delayed. Our Lord retired from Judea to a city called Ephraim, near the wilderness. We also find him, in this period of his life, again beyond the Jordan, in Perea. In this Perean residence is to be placed a portion of the teaching contained in the Synoptic Gospels, such as the teaching concerning divorce. Matt. 19:3–12, and parallels, the words to the rich young ruler, vs. 16–30, and parallels, and the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. Matt. 20:1–16.
Before long, however, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the last time. On the way, when he was passing through Jericho, in the Jordan Valley, he healed two blind men, and converted the tax collector Zacchæus. The conversion of Zacchæus was in accord with Jesus' custom all through his ministry. The taxgatherers were despised by the rest of the Jews at the time of Christ. They had allied themselves with the Roman oppressors, and no doubt most of them were guilty of abominable extortion on their own account. By the Pharisees, particularly, they were regarded as belonging to the very dregs of the people, with whom no true observer of the law could be intimate. But Jesus was bound by no limits in his saving work. He did not condone sin—either the sin of the taxgatherers or the sin of the Pharisees. But he was willing to save from sin all who would believe. The whole, he said, need not a physician, but they that are sick. The Son of Man had come to "seek and to save that which was lost."
John 11:55 to 12:1
Toiling up the long ascent from Jericho, our Lord arrived at last, six days before the passover, at the village of Bethany, which is less than two miles from Jerusalem. During the remaining time before the crucifixion Jesus went every morning into the city and returned in the evening to lodge with his friends at Bethany.
Matthew 26:6-13, and Parallels
Soon after his arrival at Bethany, when Jesus was reclining at table in the house of a certain Simon the leper, he was anointed by Mary the sister of Lazarus. Matt. 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; John 12:2–8. This anointing is not to be confused with a somewhat similar event which had taken place some time before, when Jesus had been anointed by a woman who had been a notorious sinner. Luke 7:36–50. The disciples murmured at the waste. The precious ointment, they said, might have been sold for a great sum, which could have been distributed to the poor. Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, had a special cause for dissatisfaction; in his case the mention of the poor was only a cloak for covetousness. Judas kept the bag, and if the proceeds of the ointment had been put into his keeping, he could have indulged his thieving propensities. But all the murmuring, whether it proceeded from more sordid motives or from a mere misunderstanding of the true spirit of the woman's act, was rebuked by our Lord. The woman, he said, had anointed his body beforehand for the burial. The days just before the crucifixion were no time for true disciples to murmur at an act which was prompted by overflowing love for the Saviour who was so soon to die.
Matthew 21:1-11, and Parallels
On the day after the supper at Bethany, that is, on the day after the Jewish Sabbath, on the ninth day of the Jewish spring month Nisan, our Lord entered into Jerusalem. Matt. 21:1–11, and parallels. It was a triumphal entry; Jesus was received publicly by the multitudes as the Messiah, the promised King of Israel. Even the manner of his entry was in accordance with prophecy; he came riding over the Mount of Olives and into the city mounted on an ass, in accordance with Zech. 9:9. The promised King of Israel at last had come. The multitudes strewed palm branches in the way, and cried, "Hosanna to the son of David."
QUESTIONS ON LESSON X
2. Give an account of all the times when Jesus, during his earthly ministry, raised the dead. In what Gospels are these incidents narrated?
3. What is the special importance of the raising of Lazarus?
4. Give an account of some of those parables of Jesus which are contained only in the Gospel According to Luke.