Jesus' last journey to Jerusalem

Part 8 of an EasyEnglish Bible Study Course on the Life of Christ

www.easyenglish.info

 A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

Jesus travels to Jerusalem Discussions about the *kingdom

Barrie Wetherill

The *apostles told Jesus that they believed in him. They believed that he was the *Messiah. Jesus now began to speak to them about his death. He told them that he would die on a *cross. They did not understand. They still thought that Jesus would establish God's *kingdom on earth immediately. They thought that Jesus would appoint them to be rulers in the *kingdom. They would be powerful and important.

Later, Pilate, who governed Jerusalem, asked Jesus questions about the *kingdom. Jesus told him 'My *kingdom does not belong to this world’. The *apostles did not understand this. But they understood it after Jesus came alive again.

The route to Jerusalem

Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem. He knew what would happen to him there (Luke 9:51). He wanted to go through Samaria, but the people there would not allow him. This was because he was going to Jerusalem (Luke 9:52-56). So Jesus and his *disciples went through Perea. Later in the journey, he walked ahead. This action astonished the *disciples. Many people who were with Jesus were afraid (Mark 10:32-34).

The Jewish rulers asked Jesus many questions. They wanted him to give them wrong answers. But Jesus always answered with great knowledge and wisdom. At last, they did not continue to ask questions. Instead, they plotted to kill Jesus on the *cross.

*Judgement

So Jesus had left *Galilee for the last time. He said that God would punish the people in some towns there, because of their *sins. He spoke about Capernaum, Bethsaida and other towns, where he had taught people. He had also cured people there; and he had done other *miracles.

 

Here Jesus spoke about the day when God will *judge everybody. He will decide who has obeyed him. He will reward the people who obey him. They are God's own people. They trust God. So they please God. But God will punish those people who have not obeyed him.

Luke 10:13-15 'These are bad times for you, inhabitants of Chorazin! These are bad times for you, inhabitants of Bethsaida! I showed you many *miracles. If the people of Tyre and Sidon had seen *miracles like that, they would have *repented long ago. They would have shown how sorry they were. They would have worn rough clothes and put ashes on their heads. [These were signs that people were very sad. Tyre and Sidon were very wicked cities.] But it will be better for Tyre and Sidon at the *judgement than for you. And you, people of Capernaum, what will happen to you? Will God be pleased with you? No, he will punish you.'

People in these places heard what Jesus taught. They saw his *miracles. Only a few of them *repented and believed in him. The *miracles of Jesus show who he really is. He wants us to believe him. We must *repent. We must trust him and obey him.

Jesus speaks about divorce

Mark 10:1-12

A question about the laws of Moses

Some *Pharisees came to Jesus to test him. They asked, 'Does a man obey the law if he divorces his wife?' There were two opinions about this. They wanted Jesus to choose one opinion or the other. Moses had introduced divorce. He said that a man should write a notice of divorce for his wife (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). People did not agree what this meant.

Some people believed that this law permitted divorce at any time. The reasons for divorce were not important. But as long as there was a legal notice, there could be a divorce. For example, Herod the King divorced his first wife so that he could marry his brother's wife. Herod thought that he had the right to do this. He arrested John the Baptist, who opposed him.

Other people thought that there could be divorce only because of adultery. [Adultery is a *sin. A married person has sex with someone who is not their husband or wife.]

The *Pharisees wanted Jesus to declare which opinion was right. Whatever he said, he would upset somebody.

Jesus' reply

What would Jesus do? Jesus did not answer the question immediately. His reply was very clever. He went right back to the beginning of the Bible, that is, to the first chapters of Genesis. His answer was stricter than either opinion. Also, Jesus spoke about men and women in the same way. He considered that both men and women were important.

God's plan for people who marry

In Genesis 2:18-25, God says this. Man needs a helper who is suitable for him. The basic problem was that man was lonely. The Bible describes married people as companions. In Genesis 2:24 God says, '...two shall become one '. He does not mean that after marriage the two people have sex. It means that they unite to become one unit. God designed marriage so that a man becomes one unit with his wife.

The apostle Paul wrote about this in Ephesians 5:28-31. He explained that marriage is like a model of Christ’s love for his church. [By 'church', Paul did not mean a building. He meant all the people who believe in Jesus.] Paul described how Jesus loved the church. Because of that love, Jesus died for us. Then Paul wrote this:

We can say this in other words. The Bible says that marriage partners are companions. Their love and care for each other is much more important than sex. The Bible’s words about adultery agree with this. In the Bible, marriage was an agreement. It began when the couple were engaged [when they said that they would marry]. So, it began before they had sex. (Deuteronomy 22:23) If engaged people had sex with someone else, the punishment was the same as for married people. In the Bible, marriage does not just make sex legal. (See also Proverbs 2:16, 17, Malachi 2:14).This is very important for human society. It refers back to the way that God made us.

Ephesians 5:28-30 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Nobody ever hated his own body. He feeds and cares for it. This is what Christ does for the church. We are members of his body.

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Why Moses allowed divorce

Jesus says that Moses allowed divorce to be legal as a temporary decision. It was because people did not love the law. They did not obey the law. Moses allowed divorce, but divorce was not the best way. Divorce was a second best way. This was not the answer that the *Pharisees wanted! Even the *disciples were very surprised by Jesus’ answer. What Moses allowed was interesting. It shows how God was willing to change his law. People failed to keep his natural law. Although this disappointed God, he changed that law. God did this because people needed the change.

Jesus and children Mark 10:13-16

Jesus had surprised his listeners with his attitude to divorce. His attitude to children was just as surprising. Jesus' *disciples did not really think that children were important to God. Parents brought children to Jesus for him to bless them. But the *disciples told them to go away.

The *disciples were doing what many people at that time would have done. 'Jesus has more important things to do than to bless children’, they might have said.

Why Jesus loved the children

The *disciples' actions upset Jesus. He gave the children a welcome. Children had many qualities which Jesus liked. They were not proud. They had a simple trust. They depended on other people. True *disciples of Jesus should have all these qualities. Jesus loved these qualities. Adults were often proud and not honest. Once Jesus put a child in the middle of a group of adults and said this:

We must become like little children

The *kingdom of *heaven is for people like that. They ask Jesus to direct them. They let him create these qualities in them. No other people will ever enter *heaven. Jesus’ standards are completely different from the standards of today’s world!

The rich young man

Mark 10:17-31

How to receive *eternal life

Now a very impressive man came to Jesus. This man was young and rich. And he was a ruler. He also wanted to know more about God. He knew something about '*eternal life’ and he wanted it. People might have thought that he would be a very good *disciple. He came to Jesus in public with his question.

Jesus first wanted to be sure that the man understood his own question. The man said that Jesus was 'good'. But only God himself is 'good'. Only God himself can give anyone *eternal life. Jesus made the young man think about who Jesus really is.

Matthew 18:3-4 And he said: 'I tell you the truth. You must change and become like little children. If you do not, you will never enter the *kingdom of *heaven. Therefore, make yourself humble like this child. Then you will be like the greatest in the *kingdom of *heaven.'

Mark 10:17 'Good teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to have *eternal life?' [He wanted to know how to please God.]

A common error

But what the man believed is a common error. He believed that he could get this *eternal life by his behaviour. He thought that he would be able to get it by himself. Many people today make the same mistake.

The *commandments

The usual Jewish answer to the man’s question would have been 'You must obey the *commandments.' [The commandments were the rules that God gave to Moses.] Jesus reminded the man about the *commandments. Then the man made another mistake. He said that he had always obeyed the *commandments. He thought that the *commandments were only about his actions. But the *commandments are also about our thoughts.

In Romans 7:8, the *apostle Paul described how he made the same mistake. Then he realised that his evil desires were also *sin. This showed him that the *commandments were about thoughts as well as actions.

When Jesus spoke to the young man, Jesus did not list all the *commandments. Jesus only mentioned the second part of the *commandments. He had not mentioned the duty to love God. Elsewhere, Jesus mentioned all the *commandments together like this:

The young man had obeyed the *commandments by his behaviour. But his questions showed his mistake. He was a wealthy man. He did not steal anything. He did not kill anybody. But he was very selfish. His liked to please himself. Thousands of Jews were very poor, and this man had great wealth. He loved his great possessions very much, and he was not going to give them up. He would not even give them up for Jesus. He would not even give them up for *eternal life.

Jesus tested the man's true character

Jesus’ last words to this man tested the man's true character.

If the young man did this, he would show his love for God. It would be greater than his love for his possessions. This would please God.

But this man loved his wealth. And he loved the way that he lived. He was not going to give it up and follow a poor teacher. So, the young man sadly walked away.

Jesus' words about the camel, the needle, and rich people

Jesus then said something else which surprised the *disciples.

Matthew 22:37-40 'Love the Lord your God: with all your heart and with all your *soul and with all your mind.’

This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like it: 'Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ This is what the Law and the *Prophets really mean.

Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'You need one thing,' he said. 'Go and sell all your possessions. Give the money to poor people. Then you will have real wealth, in *heaven. Then come! Follow me!'

Mark 10:23-25. Jesus looked at his *disciples. He said, 'It is very hard for rich people to belong to the *kingdom of God!' The disciples were surprised at his words. But Jesus said again, '*Children, it is very hard to belong to the *kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the small hole in a needle than for a rich man to join the *kingdom of God.'

The disciples thought that rich people had everything in this world. They thought that it would be the same in the *kingdom of God. But this is not so. All those who obey Jesus are equal. Nobody is better than someone else because he is richer or clever. By themselves, nobody can achieve what Jesus wants. We can only achieve this by the help of the *Holy Spirit. We need the *Holy Spirit to give us a new way to live. We need the *Holy Spirit to teach us God’s ways. We need the *Holy Spirit to give us new desires and hopes. He will help us to be free from the love of money and possessions.

Three things that people lost

Luke 15 The promises of Jesus

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through several villages and towns. There he taught and cured people. He spoke with power and authority, and said things like this:

Jesus offered to forgive

He promised that he could free men from the power of *sin. He offered to forgive them. He offered to give them power for a new life. Everything that Jesus did showed the truth of his words. He changed the lives of many people who met him. He changed the way that they thought and behaved. It is the same today. People knew that they needed Jesus' help. They needed to know how to please God. They were not happy with the way that they lived. They understood that Jesus could give them hope and freedom instead of failure.

Crowds came to hear him (Luke 15:1). Jesus let them stay for a short time, and he taught them. But many *Pharisees, who were the leaders of the Jewish religion, did not like this (Luke 15:2). They said that a good man should not be with *sinners. Really, these *Pharisees did not believe. This happens today. Sometimes there are leaders of the Christian religion who do not really believe.

Jesus' three parables [stories]

Then Jesus told three parables. [Parables are stories which have a meaning.] These parables show in a very simple way why Jesus came. We have the parables about :

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you tired people who work so hard. I will give you rest.

John 10:10 I have come to give you life. It is the best life, a perfect life. [Jesus means that we will know God. We will behave in a different way. We will be satisfied because we are right with God.]

the *lost sheep. This sheep was like a *sinner who did not under
tand about sin. [A sinner is someone who does not obey God. He does not do what God wants.]

the *lost coin. This coin was like a careless *sinner.

the *lost son. This son was like a *sinner who chose to do wrong deeds. In the last parable, Jesus spoke clearly about the proud *Pharisees.

The *lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7)

In this parable, a man has 100 sheep, but one sheep wanders away. The shepherd [the man who looks after the sheep] then searches for the sheep. He finds it and brings it home. He is very happy, and he tells his neighbours about his joy.

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Jesus said that there is great joy in *heaven when a *sinner *repents. Our God is good and kind. But he hates *sin. That is why he makes it possible for a *sinner to *repent. God will forgive that person. And God will give a new life to that person. In John 10:10 Jesus says: 'I have come to give you life. It is the best life, a perfect life.'

Many *Pharisees did not realise that God offers hope to *sinners. The *Pharisees thought that a *sinner had to obey their traditions and their religion. They thought that they were the only good people.

The *lost coin (Luke 15:8-10)

The next parable is about a woman who loses a coin. She looks for it very carefully, and she finds it. She then calls to her friends to be happy with her. 'In the same way', said Jesus, 'there is great happiness in *heaven when a *sinner *repents'.

The *lost son (Luke 15:11-32)

The third parable is about a man who had two sons. The younger son asked his father for money. The son wanted to receive immediately the money that he would receive after the father’s death. Then the son went away into a far country. He wasted his money in bad habits and wrong behaviour.

The *lost sheep just wandered away. The *lost coin is like the careless *sinner. He does not know that he is *lost. But the *lost son decided to go away. He meant to do it.

At last, everything went wrong for this son. He had no more money to buy food. He went back to his father. He wanted to be like a servant to his father. But the father was watching for the *lost son. The father always hoped that the *lost son would come back. The father saw his son approach. So, the father ran to meet his son. The father made a great party because of the return of the *lost son.

The father's love

Although this parable teaches the same lesson as the other parables, it says more about the love of the father. It tells more about how much he wanted his son to come home. This father is like God. God loves us. He wants us to *repent so that he can forgive us.

The older brother

Jesus told an extra story at the end of this last parable. The father’s older son was away from the house when his brother returned. When the older brother came back, he discovered the party. Everyone was having a happy time! But he refused to join in. He even refused to say that the other son was his brother. The older son did not want to speak to his brother.

The older son's attitude was like the attitude of the *Pharisees’. In fact, Jesus told these three parables because of their bad attitude towards Jesus.

The most important lesson from this parable

Let us emphasise the most important lesson. God is holy, and he cannot allow *sin. But he has made it possible for people to come to him. They must be humble. They must *repent. God will forgive them, and bless them. But nobody is good enough to come to God our Father. The older son tried to do this. We must be like the younger son. We must *repent. We must say what he said:

Luke 15:21 'Father, I have *sinned against *heaven and against you. I do not deserve to be your son.'

The request of James and John

Mark 10:35-45

The *disciples wanted honour and power

Jesus and his *disciples were now approaching Jerusalem. Two *apostles, James and John, who were brothers, asked Jesus a question:

When Jesus began to rule his *kingdom, could they sit one on each side of him, as an honour?

James and John thought that a *kingdom would begin on earth immediately. [The *kingdom that Jesus spoke about is God’s *kingdom. Everyone who loves God belongs to his *kingdom. But God's *kingdom is not yet complete.] The *apostles wanted power for themselves. It was like a request for an important job in government.

There is some evidence that these brothers may have been cousins of Jesus. [See the Appendix [extra remarks] at the end of this section]. So they asked Jesus to keep important jobs in the family. This happens often in the world today. Notice what the request means. They wanted great honour and power for themselves. They did not ask to be servants in the *kingdom. They did not ask Jesus to use them. They asked for honour and power.

The other *disciples' reaction

The other *apostles were very angry. They also wanted these jobs! The *apostles all had selfish ambitions. They thought, 'What is there for me in all this?' This was a struggle for power. So, they asked, 'Who would be greatest?' (See Matthew 18:1-3, Matthew 19:27-30, especially verse 27.)

The brothers did not really understand their request. Jesus told them this. They did not understand until after the *resurrection who Jesus really was. Jesus is God. Also, Jesus would suffer very much before he could rule in his *kingdom. The brothers did not understand this. Jesus spoke about it. He asked the brothers if they could suffer with him. The brothers bravely declared that they could! Jesus then replied:

Power in God's *kingdom

Jesus then made another statement. This shows that the *Kingdom of God is far better than any *kingdom on earth.

In *kingdoms on earth, power is usually a bad thing. There are many beautiful great houses in my country. The people who built them were often very poor. Rich people forced them to work very hard, without much payment. We can still see that this happens today, across the world. It happens when some people have power over other people. We even see this problem in the church. In the Bible, the *apostles had wrong ambitions, until Jesus died on the *cross. This is not what Christ teaches. He teaches that in the *Kingdom of God our ambition should be to serve other people. We should not try to become the person who gives orders. Our ambition should not be to rule other people. Our ambition should be to help them to know God. This would bless them, and help them to serve other people. (Of course, we should still have leaders. But the leaders should be servants of other people. They should help other people.)

Mark 10:39, 40 'You will drink the cup that I drink. You can have the same *baptism as I have. But I do not choose who sits at my right or left. God chooses the people who will receive these honours.

Mark 10:42-44 Jesus called the *disciples together. He said, 'You know this. The rulers of the Gentiles [Gentiles are people who are not Jews] have great power. Their important officials give many orders to people. You must not behave like that. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. Whoever wants to be important must be a slave of all.'

Jesus came to serve

Lastly, Jesus made one other statement. This showed how he himself had come to serve.

Here is something wonderful. Jesus is the son of God, and his home is with God, in *heaven. But he left his home in *heaven. He came into this world, which he had made. He was born in our world, and he had a humble birth. His family was poor. His birth was in a shed for animals. He did not come to rule over us, like a proud man. He came to serve. He came to cure sick and blind people. He came to tell people the good news from God. But especially, he came 'to give his life’. Here is another wonderful thing. He came not so much to live, but to die. He came 'to die, to rescue people from the results of their *sin’. He came to die on the *cross for our *sins, so that God might forgive us. Then God can give us *eternal life.

Christian leadership

This is the kind of leadership which Jesus shows us. He wants us to have leaders like that. And he wants us to be leaders like that. These ideas are very different from the ideas that the *apostles had! Let us remember that Jesus taught this lesson to *apostles. He was not teaching other people. He wanted his *disciples to be humble. Jesus patiently repeated the lesson several times before he died on the *cross. How much Christian people need to learn this lesson! There are many jobs which somebody must do. We need to be ready to do some of them. We need to be ready to serve other people, and not merely to give orders. If it is best for the church, we need to be ready to give up our Christian job. To help the church, we need to be ready to do something else. If we all lived as real Christians, we would live like Jesus. He did not come to order other people about, but to serve them. He lived his life for other people. He even died for other people.

Appendix [Extra remarks] Who was the mother of James and John?

The account of the request of James and John in Matthew (Matthew 20:20-28) mentions their mother. She also requested this. She wanted her sons to be important in God’s *kingdom. But who was the mother? We know the names of the three women who were at the *cross. Different books of the Bible give different names.

Matthew 27:55-56: These women provided for Jesus and his *disciples. One woman was 'the mother of Zebedee’s sons.' [Mark 1:19 tells us that Zebedee was the father of James and John.]

Mark 15:40: The name of the 'mother of the sons of Zebedee’ was probably Salome. John 19:25: This lady may even have been Jesus’ aunt.

This is therefore a very clever thing for James and John to do. They did everything that was possible to get their ambition. And today, people still behave in the same way!

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man [Jesus] did not come so that other people would serve him. He came to serve other people. He came to die, and to rescue people from the results of their *sin.

John 3:16 'For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son. Whoever believes in him shall not die, but shall have *eternal life.'

Jesus cures blind Bartimaeus

Jesus now came to Jericho. In a few days, he would ride into Jerusalem. The last week of Jesus' life would be a very busy week. At the end of the week he would die on the *cross. The *apostles had been arguing about who would be the most important person in his *kingdom. They thought that Jesus would have a *kingdom on earth immediately. They were thinking about power and luxury. Jesus had plenty to think about at this time. However, he was not too busy to help Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was a blind man who sat at the side of the road. He asked people to give him money.

'Jesus, Son of David, help me!'

Bartimaeus heard the noise of the crowd which was with Jesus. People told him that Jesus of Nazareth was there. Bartimaeus then immediately shouted out 'Jesus, Son of David, help me'. Notice the difference. The crowd said merely 'Jesus of Nazareth'. But Bartimaeus shouted 'Jesus Son of David'. Now the 'Son of David' is a name for the *Messiah.This shows the belief of Bartimaeus. He believed that Jesus was the *Messiah. The *Messiah would rescue and protect the Jews from the results of their *sin. This is what Bartimaeus believed. It is not what the crowd believed. They merely called him Jesus of Nazareth.

Bartimaeus was a poor blind man. He was of no importance in society. Many people like Bartimaeus would not think that the *Messiah would bother with them. But Jesus had time for Bartimaeus, although this was Jesus' final journey! We can always speak to Jesus about our troubles and difficulties. He will listen to us. He has time, even if nobody else has time. (Think about the incident with the children in Mark 10:13-16.)

Bartimaeus cried out, 'Jesus, Son of David, help me!' Many people told him to be quiet. They told him not to bother Jesus. They probably told him that Jesus would not do anything for him. And this is very important. Even today, some people in the Christian church do not really encourage other people. Sometimes other people who are not Christians encourage us more! But Bartimaeus did not give up. He believed in the *Saviour. Nobody could make him be quiet. Even when Jesus himself seemed to go past, Bartimaeus still shouted out 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me'.

Simply come to Jesus and ask for help

Notice what Bartimaeus asked for. He asked for help. He might have said 'Oh Lord Jesus, I have not been very bad. I do not deserve this'. Or he might have said, 'You have cured other people. I am just as good as they are. Cure me'. That is the way that many people speak to Jesus. But not Bartimaeus. 'I have nothing to say. I have no rights, I just ask for help'. This is all that we can say to Jesus: 'Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your *cross I cling.' [This is a line from a Christian song. It means that we can offer nothing to Jesus. He died on the *cross for us. That is the only reason that we can speak to him. To cling means to hold on to.] There is no other way. We come to Jesus and just ask for his help. Or, we do not come at all.

Jesus stopped and called Bartimaeus

Jesus stopped and called to Bartimaeus. Jesus asked Bartimaeus to come to him. That is a beautiful detail in the story. Jesus did not meet Bartimaeus by accident! Bartimaeus did not just happen to be in front of Jesus! Jesus definitely stopped and asked Bartimaeus to come. This showed that Jesus wanted to hear Bartimaeus's request. And now there is a final test. 'What do you want me to do for you?' asked Jesus. Of course, Jesus knew what Bartimaeus wanted. It was easy to know. This was a final test of Bartimaeus’s belief. Bartimaeus's answer was confident: 'Master, let me receive my sight.' Bartimaeus showed his trust. He knew that the *Saviour could cure him.

And this is the kind of trust that you and I must have. Jesus is able to help us. He can deal with our problems. Let us not doubt. Let us trust in him. Whatever the difficulties may be, speak to Jesus. Even if someone tries to stop you, speak to Jesus. Bartimaeus did this, and Jesus cured him.

Bartimaeus used his sight to walk behind Jesus. That is, Bartimaeus followed Jesus. Among the crowd with Jesus were many people whom Jesus had helped. They really did want to be close to Jesus. I wonder if Bartimaeus was in the crowd a few days later. Perhaps he was in the crowd who watched Jesus die on the *cross. There were leaders of the Jewish religion round the *cross. Bartimaeus saw and understood more than they did.

Proof that Jesus was the *Messiah

But we can learn more here. The *miracle itself was very important. To cure a blind man was a sign of the *Messiah. (See Isaiah 35:5, 6 or Matt
ew 11:2-5). Here, just before t