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The Week Before the End

(The day numbers pertain to the first month of the year for Israel, and each day begins at sundown.)

The triumphal entry

(10th day of the month, when the lambs were selected)

When they got near Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany near the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus sent out two disciples with these instructions: “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey and her colt hitched, a colt that no one has ever ridden. Untie the colt and bring it to me. If anyone asks you, just tell them ‘The Master needs it and will return it shortly’ and they’ll let it go without question. This has to happen in order to fulfill what the prophet declared: ‘Do not fear, daughter of Zion! Look, your king is coming to you gently, riding on a donkey, on a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden.’”

The disciples went off and did as Jesus told them, and they found the colt hitched near the gates by the outer street. When they untied it, some of the people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” So they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them take it. They brought the colt to Jesus and put their outer garments on it so he could sit on it. His disciples didn’t know it at the time, but when Jesus was exalted they remembered that these things the people did were written about him.

Then as he came closer and saw the city, he began to sob over it: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you! So many times I’ve wanted to gather your children the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing! And now look; your temple is to be taken away from you. But I say to you, you will not recognize me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one coming in the name of the Master’. If only you realized that in this day you could have had peace, yet now it’s hidden from your eyes! The day will come when your enemies will throw siege ramps all around you and press in on you from all sides. They will destroy you and your children, and they won’t leave one stone on top of another, all because you were oblivious to the time you were to be set free!”

Then many in the crowd spread out their cloaks on the road in front of him, while others used tree branches that they had cut off. And both those in front of him and those behind went along saying, “Celebrate the Descendant of David! Blessed is the one bearing the name of the Master! And blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Celebrate in the presence of God!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the entire city was shaken.vSome asked, “Who is this?” and the crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”

The blind and lame came to him in the temple compound, and he healed them. But when the religious leaders saw the wonderful things he was doing, and when they heard the children there shouting “Celebrate the Descendant of David,” they were indignant. So they said to Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying? Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

“Haven’t you ever read that ‘You have prepared praise to come of the mouths of toddlers and infants’?” Jesus asked. “I say to you, that if these people were silent, the stones themselves would shout!”

The crowd that had been there when he called Lazarus out of the grave and raised him from the dead was giving their testimony. It was on their account of this miracle he did that the huge crowd went to meet him. So the religious leaders said to themselves, “It’s obvious that we’re not getting anywhere. Look, the whole world has gone after him!” Then Jesus looked around, but because it was getting late he went into Bethany with the Twelve.

The cursed fig tree

(11th day of the month)

In the morning Jesus headed back to the city. He was hungry, and along the way he saw a fig tree. But when he got close to it he couldn’t find a single fig on it; there were only leaves. So he said to it, “You will never produce figs again!” The disciples heard him say it.

(12th day of the month)

When evening came, they went outside of the city. In the morning when they came back, they saw that the fig tree was shriveled down to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said, “Rabbi, look! The tree you cursed has dried up.”

“Let me assure you of this,” Jesus answered, “If you have Godly faith and don’t doubt, you will be able to do more than I did to this fig tree. You will be able to say to this mountain, ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea!’, and it will happen. Everything you ask for in prayer, you will have.”

After this they went through Galilee, but Jesus didn’t want anyone to know because of what he was teaching his disciples. Then he went up toward Jerusalem, and along the way he took the Twelve aside and spoke to them privately: “As you know, the Passover is in two days. That’s when the Human will be handed over to the religious leaders. They will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Romans, who will jeer at him and flog him and crucify him. But he will arise on the third day. Then I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

The second temple cleansing

(13th day of the month)

Now Jesus went into Jerusalem to the temple compound, and he started throwing out the merchants and their customers there, as well as overturning the tables of the brokers and the benches of those selling doves. He prevented anyone from carrying merchandise through the temple, and he gave them all a lecture: “Is it not written that ‘my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have turned it into a hideout for robbers!” The religious leaders heard about this, so they started looking for a way to kill him. But they feared the masses, who were captivated by his teaching.

Then the Jews demanded, “What is the meaning of this?”

Jesus responded, “You will destroy this temple, but in three days I will put it up again.”

The Jews retorted, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you think you’ll put it up in three days!?” But he was talking about the temple of his body. When he was raised from the dead his disciples remembered he said this, and they believed the scripture and what Jesus said. And while he was in Jerusalem for the Passover festival, many accepted him because of the miracles they saw him do. But Jesus didn’t put much confidence in them himself, knowing how people are.

Jesus speaks of his sacrifice

Then some of the Greeks among the festival-goers came up to Philip (of Bethsaida in Galilee) and made a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip told Andrew, and the two of them told Jesus.

Jesus said to them, “The hour has come for the Human to be exalted. I tell you very truly, that unless a kernel of grain falls to the ground and dies it remains a single seed, whereas if dies it will be loaded with produce.

“Anyone who is too attached to their life will lose it, but anyone who thinks nothing of their life in this world will preserve it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me should follow me; where I am is where my servant will also be. And whoever serves me will be honored by the Father.

“Now I am deeply disturbed, but what will I say? ‘Father, rescue me from this hour’? But this hour is precisely why I came! Father, exalt your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have, and I will exalt it again!”

The crowd standing there heard it and some said, “That was thunder,” while others said “An angel has spoken to him.”

Jesus told them, “This voice was not for my benefit but yours. Now the judgment of the world begins; now the ruler of this world will be thrown out! If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.“ (He said this to indicate the manner of his impending death.)

Then the crowd asked, “We heard from the law that the Anointed One would remain forever, so how can you say that the Human must be lifted up? Who is this ‘Human’?”

So Jesus replied, “The light will remain among you for a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness won’t overtake you; the one walking in darkness has no idea where they’re going. Trust in the light while you have it, so you can be people of the light.” With that, Jesus went away and concealed himself from them.

In spite of having done so many miracles in front of them, they still did not put their trust in him. This fulfilled the saying of the prophet Isaiah: “Master, who believed our report? To whom was the Master’s strength revealed?” They weren’t able to believe, seeing once again that Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, to prevent them from seeing with their eyes or understanding with their hearts, such that I would turn around and heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw Jesus’ majesty and spoke about him. Even so, many of the rulers put their trust in him. But because of the religious leaders they did not admit it, or they would be excommunicated. They loved praise from people more than even praise from God.

Now Jesus shouted out, “Whoever puts their trust in me is really putting their trust in the one who sent me; whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that all who put their trust in me would not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears what I say but doesn’t do it, I am not judging them, because I did not come to judge the world but to save it. Yet the one rejecting me and not holding to what I say will be judged by my words at the last day, since I don’t speak of my own accord but of the Father who sent me. He has given me the official ruling on what to say and what to talk about. And I know that his ruling is eternal life. So whatever I say is exactly as the Father has directed me to speak.”

Another entrapment attempt

Then the Pharisees went off and met together to plot how to trick Jesus into saying something incriminating. So they put Jesus under surveillance and sent out spies posing as honest people, so that they could arrest him over something he might say and hand him over to the jurisdiction of the governor. So they sent their disciples, along with the Herodians, to say, “Teacher, we know that you are honest and show people the true way to God, and that you aren’t intimidated by anyone because you don’t care who they are but just teach the true way of God. So tell us what you think: Is it permissible to pay the poll tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus knew their evil intent and said to them, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? Show me the currency you use to pay the poll tax.” So they handed him a denarius and he said, “Whose image is this, and whose name is inscribed?”

“Caesar’s,” they answered.

“Then give Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give God what belongs to God,” he retorted.

They were unable to get him to say anything worthy of arrest in front of everyone, and his ingenious response silenced them.

Later that day the Sadducees, who don’t believe in the resurrection, came to him and said, “Teacher, Moses said that if someone died childless, his brother was obligated to marry the widow and produce offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers, and the first married but died childless. So his brother married his widow, but the same thing happened. Likewise for the third and all seven of the brothers. Finally the woman died. So in the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since she had been married to them all?”

This was Jesus’ response: “You are misled, because you understand neither that scripture nor the power of God. Though in this world people marry, in the resurrection people don’t marry but are like the angels in heaven who can’t die anymore. And as for the rising of the dead: Have you not read what God declared to you when he said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living!” And when the crowd heard this, they were awestruck by his teaching. Then a lawyer remarked, “Well said!”

Now when the religious leaders heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they had a meeting about it. And one of them, a lawyer, tested him: “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?”

“You must love the Master your God with all your heart, life, and thoughts,” Jesus answered. “This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. The entirety of the Law and Prophets hinges on these two commandments.”

“You are correct in saying that there is one God and no other,” he replied. “To love him with one’s whole heart, understanding, and strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is far better than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw how astutely he had answered, he said commended him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Since the Pharisees were gathered there, Jesus asked them, “What is your opinion about the Anointed One? Whose descendant is he?”

“David’s,” they replied.

“But how could David, prompted by the Spirit, call him ‘Master’?” asked Jesus. “He said, ‘The Master said to my Master, “Sit down at my right until I put your enemies beneath your feet.”’ How can David call him ‘Master’ if he’s his descendant?” No one could refute what Jesus said, so from then on nobody dared to ask him anything else. But the common people loved to listen to him.

Failing at entrapment, betrayal is plotted

Then the religious leaders got together at the palace of the ruling priest Caiaphas, where they recommended the use of treachery to have Jesus arrested and killed. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people might riot.” Then Judas of Kerioth, one of the Twelve, went to them and said, “What will you give me if I hand Jesus over to you?” So they offered him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

The poor widow’s example

Then Jesus sat down facing the treasury, and he watched how the crowd threw money into it. Many rich people threw in a lot, but one destitute widow threw in two tiny coins worth only a fraction of a day’s wages. He called his disciples to himself and said, “I tell you truly that this destitute widow has thrown a greater sum into the treasury than all the others. For they gave out of their excess, but she gave out of what she needed— everything she had to live on.”

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