Archive for the ‘Life of Christ’ Category

Dr. Bookman told us that it was on Monday that Jesus cleansed the temple (Matt. 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46).  He also said that Jesus took possession of the temple on Monday and Tuesday.  I couldn’t find a verse that directly says that, but Mark 11:16 does say that “He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.” And all the accounts agree that He taught in the temple during that time.  Now think about it, supposedly the temple mount area was 35 acres.  If Dr. Bookman is right, and he has done a lot of research on it, 250,000 people could fit in there and Jesus controlled it for 2 days!  Surely the disciples were now fully persuaded that Jesus was about to establish His earthly Kingdom.

To see a model of what the Jerusalem temple probably looked like during the New Testament, you can click on this link. It’s pretty neat.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jerusalem_Modell_BW_2.JPG

I think we often don’t remember (or at least I didn’t) that Jesus was still a fugitive.  What kept His enemies from killing Him? Jesus was so wildly popular.  Their hands were tied because they feared the people. (Matt. 21:46; Mark 11:18, 32; Luke 19:47-48) Dr. Bookman said that the only way they could have Him killed was to get the Romans to do it for them.  And to do that, they had to be able to accuse Him of sedition (treason, encouraging rebellion).

Possibly for this reason, the religious leaders tried to catch Jesus by asking Him many tricky questions.  He completely showed them down in front of all the people crowded there for Passover!  This, of course, made them even more angry with Him, but still, the only thing they could accuse Him of was claiming to be the Son of God.

In Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22, we are told about a secret meeting of the Sanhedrin, called at Caiaphas’ (the High Priest’s) personal home.  This is where Judas sneaked off to and offered to help them.  Dr. Bookman cleared up something here that I had never thought of.  What exactly was Judas hired to do?  I always thought it was to identify Jesus.  But think about it, the Jews saw Jesus in the temple many times.  They knew what He looked like!  Judas Iscariot was their “inside connection” to get Jesus away from the crowds to arrest Him. (Luke 22:6 – “So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of a crowd.”)

We aren’t told of anything that occurred on Wednesday.  So what might have happened?  Well, Dr. Bookman believes that all sorts of things were going on in relation to this huge conspiracy against Christ.  By Thursday night, they had 300-600 soldiers to accompany Judas, and the entire Sanhedrin was waiting.  So probably a lot of the planning went on Wednesday. 

On Thursday, Jesus sent Peter and John to town to prepare for the Passover meal.  (Luke 22:7-13)  They would take the animal to the temple to be sacrificed, and also prepare the place where they would gather that evening (traditionally, the upper room was at the home of John Mark’s mother).  Another interesting note here, Dr. Bookman thinks that this “you will see a man carrying a pitcher of water” was not just like a crystal ball vision.  He thinks that perhaps Jesus sent a messenger from Bethany into Jerusalem the day before, to request the use of the upper room.  And because a man carrying a pitcher was uncommon, but not unheard of, perhaps that was the secret sign to show them where to go.  This makes sense, if we keep in mind that if Jesus told them straight up where to go, Judas would know and perhaps go tell the Sanhedrin where to expect them that night.

At the Passover meal that night, Jesus used their last few hours together to try to prepare the disciples for what was going to happen.  Now, as I mentioned earlier, the disciples (with the exception of Judas) were probably expecting Jesus to set up His earthly Kingdom very shortly.  So it is possible that they went into this meal expecting Christ to be handing out Kingdom positions.  They get there, and He tells them not only that He’s going to die, but that one of them is going to betray Him.  How shocking!

Jesus released Judas to go and do what must be done, and the others finished their meal and possibly fully expected to lie down and sleep there. But Jesus led them out to the garden of Gethsemane.  …And hopefully I’ll be able to pick up there tomorrow. 🙂

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It had been foretold in the Old Testament exactly how (Zechariah 9:9), when (Daniel 9:25-26), and why (Psalm 118:21-29) Jesus would enter Jerusalem on this day.

Some people think that it was only a few people who were waiting to welcome Jesus as King.  However, Dr. Bookman pointed out that we are told that the whole city was excited (Matt. 21:10), and to the Pharisees it seemed that the entire world had turned to follow Him (John 12:19).

As I mentioned earlier, with everyone in Jerusalem wondering if He would come, and the caravan from Galilee announcing His arrival, most of the city’s inhabitants were probably anticipating His appearance.  They welcomed Him by spreading their cloaks and palm branches in the road, waving palm branches, and shouting “Hosanna! [meaning: Come save!]  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” 

So far, you’re going “I know all this from Sunday school!”  Well here’s something I didn’t know: they were quoting Psalm 118:25-26.  Dr. Bookman told us that Psalm 118 was the psalm they had been given to instruct them how to welcome the Messiah. 

It has been asked, how did the same people who welcomed Christ as King on Sunday, shout “Crucify Him!” on Friday?  Dr. Bookman explained that the answer to that question is what happened on Monday and Tuesday.  And hopefully I’ll be able to touch on that tomorrow. 🙂

But meanwhile, I’d like you to think about what the disciples must have been thinking.  They knew Jesus was the Messiah, they expected Messiah to deliver them from Roman rule, and the whole city of Jerusalem was welcoming Him as King.  Can’t you imagine the disciples were probably thinking, “Hey, He’s about to run all the Romans out, and then we’ll have high positions in His Kingdom.”  Jesus knew what He had come to do.  He knew He was going to die, and He had tried to tell the disciples that, but they didn’t understand.  They would soon find out that their earthly lives would be filled with persecution, not earthly authority.  It wasn’t what they were expecting, but the eternal rewards were far better.

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Here is a helpful map for reference to the places I will be mentioning.  🙂

Ok, so we left off yesterday with Jesus and His disciples heading towards Galilee, but I forgot to explain why this makes sense.  “On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.” (Luke 17:11)  Check out the map.  If Jesus was staying in Ephraim on the border of Judea and Samaria, Galilee was the exact opposite direction to Jerusalem!  This is another place where studying the Bible in the context of the culture is extremely helpful.  And it also demonstrates how Jesus was continuing to set the stage for the triumphal entry to Jerusalem.  But I’m getting ahead of myself (and starting to feel long-winded like Dr. Bookman! 🙂 ).  Let me back up…

People travelling from Galilee for feasts in Jerusalem would prefer not to go through Samaria, so they would cross over the Jordan rift, travel down through Decapolis and Perea, and then cross back over into Judea.  But on the Perea route, there was always the danger of being attacked, so they would travel in groups.  Dr. Bookman explained that Jesus probably travelled with one of these caravans.  Along the way, Jesus is teaching and working miracles (Luke 17:20-19:28, Mark 10:1-52, Matthew 19:1-20:34).

Now they cross back into Judea and are headed toward Jerusalem, and Jesus and His disciples turn off toward Bethany. Now, I never really studied the “Sabbath-day’s journey” concept before, but here’s Dr. Bookman’s explanation of how it applies here.  He said basically there was this “Sabbath zone” around Jerusalem marked by piles of rocks.  If you made it into the “Sabbath zone” before sundown on Friday, you had to stay inside until sundown on Saturday.  Likewise, if you were outside the city at sundown Friday, you couldn’t enter the city till after sundown on Saturday.  So on Friday, Jesus stopped in Bethany, which was outside the Sabbath zone.

Ok, so try to imagine this whole picture: The entire city of Jerusalem is preparing for Passover and whispering among themselves, “Do you think Jesus will even come?” The religious leaders are waiting for Jesus to show up so they can plot to kill Him.  The caravan from Galilee arrives in Jerusalem on Friday exclaiming “Jesus was with us!  He’s been doing all kinds of miracles!  He is coming for the feast!  He’ll be here Sunday morning!”

Jesus spends a quiet Sabbath with Lazarus and his sisters.  They have a party after sundown, and it is at this occasion that Mary anoints Jesus with the expensive perfume (it cost about a year’s salary!).  Judas rebuked Mary for “wasting” it, but he was scolded by Jesus.  This rebuke probably stuck with Judas over the next few days, and he allowed his anger to fester inside to the point of being willing to betray the Messiah.

To be continued hopefully later today… 🙂

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I am realizing that there is no way I am going to be able to cover all of the background that Dr. Bookman covered, but I would like to begin a few weeks before what we refer to as Palm Sunday.  It was at some point between the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) and the Passover (John 12:1) that Lazarus died (I believe Dr. Bookman said this was probably about 3 weeks before Passover).  Here are some main observations about this HUGE event (this takes place in John 11):

1)      The raising of Lazarus was the only miracle in the Lord’s ministry which was deliberately made more spectacular than it might have been.  Jesus purposefully waited two days to come (v.6).  He timed it to where Lazarus would have been dead four days.  In the Jewish custom, they laid the body in the tomb and left it open for 3 days for people to come in and out, kind of like an extended funeral visitation, then the tomb would have been sealed on the evening of the third day.  So Lazarus’ body would have begun to decay and have been sealed up in there at least all night – that’s why Martha said “He’s gonna stink by now.” (v.39)  There was no denying that Lazarus had been dead.  But in obedience to the words of Jesus, he got up and came out of that tomb!

2)      The raising of Lazarus was the miracle that was most thoroughly credible, supported by undeniable evidence.  Probably everyone in the town of Bethany had come to pay their respects and comfort Lazarus’ sisters.  They all knew he had been dead, yet here he is coming out of the tomb undeniably alive!  I can only imagine, it must have been the talk of the town, and it spread quickly to Jerusalem (v.46).

3)      The raising of Lazarus was clearly intended to supply the Jewish nation with one more incontrovertible proof of Jesus’ Messianic claims.  Just another thought to add here, most of the Jews were expecting a warrior-king to lead them in rebellion against Rome.  Dr. Bookman pointed out: wouldn’t it be attractive to be on the side of the guy who can raise people from the dead?

In vv.45-57, we are given an entire synopsis of the results of this miracle.  Many people believed in Jesus, but some didn’t and went to tell the Pharisees what happened.  This made the Pharisees angrier with Jesus and now they determined that He must be caught and killed.  So it was no longer safe for Jesus to be out in public and we are told that he retreated to a little town called Ephraim, which Dr. Bookman said was probably on the border of Judea and Samaria.

So as the Passover approached, everyone was talking amongst themselves, wondering if Jesus would even dare to come to Jerusalem.  Meanwhile, Dr. Bookman thinks that Jesus and His disciples were making their way through Samaria to join the group travelling down from Galilee.

And with that, I’m going to have to end for now.  To be continued… 🙂

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Why do we call this “the passion week of Christ”?  In the King James Version of Acts 1:3, Luke uses the term “his passion” when briefly reviewing what he presented in his gospel.  Strong’s concordance and dictionary defines the Greek word (paschō) thus: “apparently a primary verb; to experience a sensation or impression (usually painful) :- feel, passion, suffer, vex.”  So, in saying that this is the passion week of Christ, I can safely say that this was the most intense week of Christ’s earthly life and ministry.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8

Before I go any farther, I want to share something Dr. Bookman said that really got me.  Many Christians tend to regard Jesus Christ as God pretending to be man.  Not in terms of doctrine, but in the way we read the stories.   All of us Sunday school kids can spit out without a second thought “Jesus was 100% God and 100% man at the same time.”  But do you really believe that He had human limitations? 

We all know that “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)  It is easy to think of this just in physical terms such as the fact that He got hungry and He got tired.  Here’s what Dr. Bookman said, “Jesus never surrendered any aspect of His deity.  He did, however, surrender full access to all of those attributes.”  In other words, Dr. Bookman explained, he believes that Jesus’ human limitations included intellectual limitations such as that He didn’t know what the weather was going to be like the next day or what everyone was thinking while He was on earth.  This may sound incorrect and irreverent, but it makes sense to me that He had to become like us in more than just the physical realm if He was really going to understand what we go through.  You probably agree with me when I say that doubtless a large percentage of the trials I face are in the realm of the mind.

 “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” (Heb 2:17-18)

I’ve probably spent more time on this that I should have, but I want to make sure we all enter this study with the full realization that Jesus was completely human.  I don’t mean at all to undermine the fact that He was fully God, incapable of sin, and the only worthy sacrifice to save us from eternal death.  I just had never really thought much about it before and wanted to share that with you.

 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  Philippians 2:5-8

It still amazes me that He was willing to do all that because He loved me!

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33

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Hey everyone!  Guess what this Sunday is!  Easter!! 

I thought it would be appropriate this week if we think about what went on in Jerusalem the week before Jesus died… and rose from the dead!  A few weeks ago at our church we had Dr. Doug Bookman come and teach a Bible conference that centered on this very event.  Dr. Bookman (http://www.bookmanministries.com/) has studied the life of Christ for many years and has so much wonderful information to share!  The conference dramatically affected my perspective about my Savior, and I am hoping to share with you some of my notes as soon as I have time to sort them out and get them typed up.  🙂

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