31 Jesus Silences His Enemies and the “Olivet Discourse”

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Returns to Jerusalem, Passing by the Withered Fig Tree

Scripture: Matthew 21:20-22 and Mark 11:20-26

Notes: This occurred early on Tuesday morning, as Jesus and His disciples return to the city of Jerusalem. Mark presents the event chronologically, but Matthew grouped them together, as he tends to present events thematically.

B. Jesus Possesses the Temple Precincts and Defeats His Enemies in Open Debate

Scripture: Mark 11:27-33; Matthew 21:23-46; Luke 19:47-48; and John 12:20-36

Notes: Notice Luke’s survey of these two days: Jesus’s dramatic teaching and the consequent frustration of His enemies (Luke 19:47-48). Mark says that during this time, Jesus so thoroughly controlled the temple precincts that He would not allow a person to carry a vessel through the area (Mark 11:16). Notice that Jesus is teaching great multitudes (Luke 19:47-48), putting to silence His enemies in open debate (Matthew 21:23-27; Matthew 22:15-22, Matthew 22:23-33; cf. Luke 20:40 – all this in a culture which honored above almost all things the prowess of a man who could thus silence His enemies in this fashion), speaking scathing parables of denunciation against unbelieving Israel (Matthew 21:28-45), proving His claims from the Old Testament (Matthew 22:41-46), and finally pronouncing blistering woes specifically upon the Pharisees/Scribes, the spiritual heroes of the people and the purveyors of works righteousness by means of the Mosaic law (Matthew 23:1-36). Two notes are intriguing concerning the close of this day: Jesus’s comment concerning the widow who gave her last two mites, in such stark contrast to the spirit of the leadership (Luke 21:1-4; Mark 12:41-44), and Jesus’s weeping over the city as He departs for the final time (Matthew 23:37-39; cf. Luke 13:34-35).

Only John records the remarkable and poignant interview of Jesus with some Greek proselytes who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover and of His consequent contemplation of His own soon-coming death. It is difficult to know precisely when this event occurred, but the best guess is that it was sometime on Tuesday, during the season of teaching and confrontation in the Temple precincts. Contemplate this narrative carefully; it is very important in anticipation of the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Questions/Observations:

  1. How might the events of Monday and Tuesday help explain why the city that welcomed Jesus as King on Sunday will cry for His death on Friday?
  2. Again, given the drama of these two days, what must the disciples have felt concerning the issue of the soon-coming of the Kingdom?

C. Jesus Leaves for Bethany and Preaches the “Olivet Discourse”

Scripture: Matthew 24; Mark 13:1-47; and Luke 19:5-38

Notes: Notice that the question asked by the disciples (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7) indicates that the idea – the bare concept – that perhaps the kingdom will not come immediately is beginning to sink into the heads of the disciples. Note further that this “Olivet Discourse” (so-called because it was spoken on the Mount of Olives, the hill that dominates Jerusalem on the eastern side) was spoken privately to the disciples and that Jesus concludes the sermon with the command to “Watch” (Mark 13:37) because the drama Jesus describes here could commence at any moment. After this discourse, Jesus and the disciples return to Bethany once again for the night; they will remain there through Wednesday and until Thursday afternoon when they will return to the city for the Passover Feast in a borrowed room of a large home on the Western Hill. However, late on Tuesday night, one of the twelve will steal away to perform an unspeakably dastardly act of betrayal.

D. Judas, Stung by Jesus’s Rebuke (over the Expensive Anointing), Sneaks Off

Scripture: Matthew 26:1-16; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6

Notes: Notice several elements of this very important scene. 1) The Jewish leadership in all of its parts – Pharisees/Scribes and Sadducees/Priests – are galvanized in their hatred of and anger toward Jesus and are taking counsel together to put Him to death. (This is because of the events of the last three days.) 2) The reason they are convinced they cannot kill Him until after the Feast is the wild-eyed fascination of the people with Jesus – they (i.e., Jesus’s enemies) “feared the people.” (Jesus knew how superficial and self-serving that fascination was, but the Jewish leadership did not – and neither did Jesus’s disciples.) 3) Because of Jesus’s popularity, the Jewish leadership knew that they would have to get the Romans (Pilate) to execute Jesus. That is, they were persuaded that had they spirited Him off and stoned Him, as they would later do to Stephen, there would be riots, and the Romans would exact retribution of those who sparked those riots. It is for this set of reasons that Jesus would die by crucifixion (Roman method) rather than by stoning (standard Jewish method). 4) The elaborate preparations necessary to the drama which would culminate with the crucifixion on Friday morning could not commence until Tuesday night when Judas showed up to help the Sanhedrinists get it done.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice carefully what Judas agreed to do to assist the Sanhedrinists in the execution of Jesus (Luke 22:6).
  2. As you read concerning the events of subsequent days, remember that Judas is convulsed by a desire to fulfill this commitment; he is looking for an opportunity to “betray Jesus to them in the absence of the multitude.”

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

30 The Fig Tree and the Second Temple Cleansing

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Jesus Curses the Fig Tree on the Way from Bethany on Monday Morning

Scripture: Mark 11:12-14 and Matthew 21:18-19

Notes: There were two stages to this event: on Monday the tree was cursed, on Tuesday it was found withered. Mark makes this clear. Matthew (as was his customary style) grouped them together (he tends to arrange events more thematically than chronologically). Matthew 21:18 refers to Monday morning (i.e., the morning of the day which he had narrated in Matthew 21:12-17); Matthew 21:20 refers to Tuesday morning (when the fig tree was discovered to have withered, and Jesus responded to the wonder of His disciples).

The day did not begin with a meal in Jewish culture, so they would often “snack” early in the day. Fig trees bore fruit twice a year: (harvestable summer figs, harvested in the autumn and worthless winter figs which appeared in the spring). There should have been winter figs on this tree, but Jesus found none.

Questions/Observations: What do you think might have been the point Jesus was making in the cursing of the fig tree? (That is, what spiritual reality is Jesus illustrating in this act – if any?)

B. The Second Cleansing of the Temple on Monday Morning

Scripture: Matthew 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-19; and Luke 19:45-48

Notes: This was not just an act of resentment, as if Jesus stumbled on abuses He had not anticipated and flew into a righteous rage. There were four Passovers during Jesus’s ministry. He cleansed the temple at the first (John 2), and then again at this feast (the fourth and last). There is strategy in this. In that regard, it is important to note whose territory Jesus was treading upon here.

It is impossible to overstate the anger that this act produced in the leadership of the Jewish nation, or the delight it generated in the hearts of the Jewish people.

Questions/Observations: The temple was the jurisdiction of the Sadducees (by Roman decree); the synagogue was the domain of the Pharisees (by practical realities). Given that, what strategy do you think might be involved in Jesus’s cleansing of the Temple at this time?

C. Jesus Returns to Bethany to Lodge for the Night

Scripture: Mark 11:11 and Matthew 21:17

Notes: The cleansing of the temple is basically all that is described in the gospel narrative of Monday of the Passion Week; after this event, Jesus returned to Bethany (Matthew 21:17; Mark 11:11). Jesus’s life was in constant and real danger; by walking with the vast crowds moving in and out of the city, and by lodging in Bethany – a village that deeply loved Jesus – at the home of a friend (who, by Jewish mores, was bound to provide protection for his Guest), Jesus protected Himself from the murderous designs of the Jewish leaders.

Questions/Observations: Remember that the disciples were convinced the kingdom was about to be established (Luke 19:11). How might the events of Sunday and Monday have affected that persuasion?

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

29 Jesus’s Strategic Route to Jerusalem and the Triumphal Entry

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. The Trip to Jerusalem for the Final Passover: Ephraim to Bethany

Scripture: Luke 17:11; Mark 10:1-52; Matthew 19:1-30; and John 12:1

Notes: These passages describe the very important and strategic route that Jesus took as He made His way from Ephraim (just north of Jerusalem) through Samaria, Galilee, and Perea – on the way to the feast. Notice that Jesus arrives in Bethany (on the outskirts of the Holy City) “six days before the Passover,” which would be Friday.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that the route described in Luke 17:11 seems strange, but there is a remarkable strategy in that route. What is it about the route outlined there which seems strange?
  2. Notice the excitement which builds as Jesus travels with a large band of Passover pilgrims along the way to the Feast.

B. The Sabbath in Bethany: The Day Before the Triumphal Entry

Scripture: John 12:1-11; Matthew 26:1-16; and Mark 14:1-11

Notes: The incident of the ointment – and specifically Jesus’s rebuke of Judas in connection with that incident – which occurred in Bethany on Saturday night (at the “coming out” of the Sabbath) has important ramifications later in the week.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that Matthew and Mark record the feast/anointing in the middle of their narrative of the events of Tuesday evening. We will discuss those events later; at this point, it is important to see that Matthew and Mark tell the story of the anointing in Bethany as a flashback. Can you think of why those gospelists would record that event anachronistically as they do?
  2. In that connection, compare Luke 22:1-6; in a passage clearly parallel to Matthew 26 and Mark 14, Luke does not tell the story of the anointing. Note what he does say at precisely the place in the narrative where Matthew and Mark insert that account.

C. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem

Scripture: Mark 11:1-19; Matthew 21:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; and John 12:12-19

Notes: This event was unspeakably important with respect to Old Testament prophecy and to the ministry of Jesus. It did not happen accidentally; Jesus planned and strategized to make it happen. Further, the drama of the event relates to the expectations of the Jewish people for a soon-coming Deliverer, to the specific dynamics of the Passover Feast, and to recent events in the ministry of Jesus.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Can you identify specific Old Testament predictive prophecies that were fulfilled in the Triumphal Entry of Jesus?
  2. Given the edict issued by the Sanhedrinists (the most powerful leaders of the Jewish nation) in John 11:57, what reaction do you think this grand entrance of Jesus into the city produced in those leaders?
  3. How would you explain the fact that by Friday the same city/people would be crying for the crucifixion of this One whom they received as King on this day?
  4. Notice the frustration of the Pharisees in John 12:19.
  5. Notice that as night fell Jesus and His disciples returned to Bethany (Mark 11:19). Understand the strategic importance of Bethany throughout this dramatic and dangerous week.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

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28 Jesus Travels to Bethany and Raises Lazarus from the Dead

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Jesus Hears of Lazarus’s Sickness and Waits Two Days Before Leaving

Scripture: John 11:1-16

Notes: Only John records this sensational miracle, and he makes it clear that in very important ways preparation for the events of the Passion Week was laid in this event. Notice that this miracle occurred only several weeks before the Passover at which Jesus would die.

Questions/Observations: Because He waited for two days before departing Perea for Bethany, when Jesus arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days. This is important. Why?

B. Jesus Arrives in Bethany and Raises Lazarus from the Dead

Scripture: John 11:17-44

Questions/Observations:

  1. Why do you think Jesus wept (John 11:35)?
  2. Contemplate carefully the dramatic effect of this miracle.

C. The Consequence of Raising Lazarus from the Dead

Scripture: John 11:45-57

Questions/Observations:

  1. John identifies several specific results of this miracle (John 11:45-57). Carefully note those results as cataloged by John, specifically the impact on Jesus’s enemies (John 11:45-53), on Jesus’s travels (John 11:54), and on the city of Jerusalem (John 11:55-56).
  2. According to John 11:57, after He raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus was a fugitive – He is on the run and must order His movements very carefully.

Note: At this point, Jesus’s public travels are entirely completed. He is tarrying north of Jerusalem at the little village of Ephraim (secret from His enemies), waiting for the time when He would make His way to Jerusalem for the Passover at which He would die. The raising of Lazarus was hugely important in setting the stage for the events of that final week to come. In that connection, note John’s comment in John 12:12 – “a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem….” How is it that that multitude heard that Jesus was coming? The answer has a great deal to do with this final and most deliberately spectacular miracle of Jesus’s ministry.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

26 The Feast of Dedication/Hanukah (Late December)

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Jesus Makes His Way to Jerusalem

Scripture: Luke 13:22

Notes: Notice that only Luke records the journey.

Questions/Observations: There is a break in Luke’s narrative between Luke 13:22 & Luke 13:23. All of John 10:22-39 occurs in that break. In the narrative of Luke 13:23 Jesus is already in Perea, after the feast of Dedication (cf. John 10:40).

B. At the Feast of Dedication, Jesus Claims to Be One with the Father

Scripture: John 10:22-39

Questions/Observations:

  1. In John 10:24, Jesus’s enemies insist that He tell them plainly that He is the Christ. What is their purpose in this?
  2. Notice that in His reply, Jesus is “wise as a serpent.” Trace His strategy here carefully.
  3. Notice that in John 10:33, the Pharisees are explicit as to what they perceive to be Jesus’s crime.
  4. Notice that in two places in this account, we are told that Jesus’s enemies took enraged steps to be rid of Him (John 10:31 and John 10:39). Jesus contrives to escape from their hands, but notice that the anger of His enemies has by now metastasized to murderous intent, even if impulsive and frustrated.

C. Jesus Retreats Across the Jordan River to Perea

Scripture: John 10:40-42

Notes: This is often denominated Jesus’s “Perean Ministry.” While the title is appropriate, it needs to be emphasized that Jesus resorts to this place for one reason – His life is in real danger in Judea.

Questions/Observations:

  1. The political dynamics of the 1st century are essential to understand Jesus’s travels and tactics here, as well as those of His enemies. By traveling to Perea, Jesus has left the jurisdiction of Pilate (who could be made to do the bidding of the Jewish leadership) for that of Herod Antipas (who was not vulnerable to political manipulation as was Pilate).
  2. Jesus ministers in Perea for a time, probably primarily to Jews who traveled there to hear Him.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

25 Open Encounters with the Jewish Leadership

Dr. Doug Bookman

Note: Luke describes a number of miracles wrought by Jesus and times of teaching, as well as the consistently hostile response of the Jewish leadership. Recall that it is very late in His ministry (within several months of Jesus’ death), and that Jesus is traveling in the region very close to Jerusalem, where the Pharisaic leadership so entirely committed to rejecting Him are headquartered.

A. The Blasphemous Accusation Is Repeated: Miracles by the Power of Beelzebub

Scripture: Luke 11:14-36

Notes: The event is very similar to that related to the “unpardonable sin” in Galilee. The Pharisees had no other explanation, and so they returned to it whenever necessary. Jesus’s response was magisterially effective and is repeated in this instance.

  1. Notice that Jesus appends a parable about a man who is cleansed of an unclean spirit, leaves himself empty, and is then possessed by seven wicked spirits. What do you think Jesus is referring to here? That is, who is the man, and in what sense had a cleansing taken place earlier?
  2. Jesus repeats the “sign of Jonah,” the emphasis of which is that this generation has proven itself so hard that signs are no longer wise, and thus they will get only the sign of Jesus’s resurrection.

B. Dining with a Pharisee, Jesus Denounces Empty Legalism

Scripture: Luke 11:37-54

Questions/Observations:

  1. The Pharisees constituted a very tight and exclusive religious fraternity; there were relatively few admitted. On the other hand, the scribes (lawyers) were ideologically and socially identified with the Pharisees. Thus, when Jesus excoriates the Pharisees (in words anticipatory of the Woes of Matthew 23), a lawyer (or scribe) is insulted as well (Luke 11:45). Jesus proceeds to excoriate the scribes as well.
  2. Notice that Luke is explicit as to the purpose of the Pharisees in attending Jesus in these days.

C. Jesus Addresses Hypocrisy, Covetousness, Worldly Anxieties, Watchfulness, and His Approaching Death

Scripture: Luke 12

Notes: Notice Luke’s description of the great hordes of people pressing in on Jesus at this time. As His death draws near, Jesus remains the wildly popular folk-hero of the masses. This is important as it ties the hand of His enemies, and it makes Jesus’s words concerning His coming death entirely incoherent to His disciples. (Jesus is able to see through the great crowds and knows that their interest is superficial and self-serving, but only Jesus discerns this.)

D. The Command to Repent: The Parable of the Fig Tree

Scripture: Luke 13:1-9

E. Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath

Scripture: Luke 13:10-21

Questions/Observations:

  1. Throughout His ministry, the one perceived crime for which Jesus’s enemies felt they could indict Him was a violation of the Sabbath. Jesus never violated the Law of Moses, but He did transgress some of the traditions of the elders. Here the tactic often employed in Galilee is employed by His enemies in Judea.
  2. Notice Luke’s remarkable description of the result of these confrontations (Luke 13:17).

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

27 Jesus Ministers in Perea

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. Jesus Teaches and Is Confronted by Some Pharisees

Scripture: Luke 13:23-35

Notes: Perea is close to and accessible from Judea, but much safer for Jesus because Herod was not liable to manipulation by the Jewish leadership anxious to be rid of Jesus.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Note carefully the ploy of Jesus’s enemies in Luke 13:31. They are trying to trick Jesus into returning to Judea where they can get the Roman authorities to move against Him. (Understand that it is because of the popularity which Jesus still enjoys with the common man – superficial to be sure, but wild-eyed nonetheless and thus crippling to Jesus’s enemies – that His Jewish enemies cannot simply spirit Him away; they must get the Roman authorities involved, and they cannot do that in Perea.)
  2. Jesus’s answer to that ploy is remarkable. In the concluding lament, He claims that Jerusalem will not see Him until they welcome Him as Messiah. Understand the source and significance of that which Jesus says the city will cry out when they see Him: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
  3. Jesus’s prediction here is fulfilled some weeks later when He rides into the city of Jerusalem in His triumphal entry and is welcomed with the words He foretells here. When Jesus made this prophecy, it was almost unimaginable that it would come to pass; the men to whom He made the prediction were representatives of the most powerful body in Judea, and they were committed not to let it happen. The means Jesus employs to cause it to happen are fascinating; be careful to trace those means as the narrative moves toward the Passion Week.

B. Jesus Dines with a Pharisee on the Sabbath and Heals a Diseased Man

Scripture: Luke 14:1-24

Questions/Observations:

  1. Note the intent of the Pharisee in inviting Jesus to his home (Luke 14:1).
  2. The two parables –
    1. the feast at which a guest is moved from a seat of honor and
    2. the man who gave a great banquet and the invited guests refused to come
    3. are spoken in response to the attempt to trap Jesus.

C. Great Crowds Follow Jesus

Scripture: Luke 14:25-35

Questions/Observations: Understand the specific Old Testament ethic that Jesus is imposing upon His followers when He demands that they “hate” mother/father/brother/sister.

D. Parables of the Lost Sheep, Coin, and Prodigal Son

Scripture: Luke 15

Questions/Observations: Notice carefully what precipitated these parables: the Pharisees and scribes were offended because among the great crowds following Jesus were sinners and publicans.

E. Three Lessons on Stewardship

Scripture: Luke 16

Notes: The three lessons: 1) the parable of the unjust steward; 2) to the Pharisees, the rich man and Lazarus; and 3) to the disciples, the servant who is faithful has only done his duty.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

24 Jesus Ministers in the Region of Judea

Dr. Doug Bookman

Note: This period is often called “The Later Judean Ministry” of Jesus. That works because Jesus had previously ministered for a time in this basic region – several months at the very beginning of His ministry He had spent gathering John the Baptist’s disciples to Himself (John 1). But though Jesus had visited the region briefly on several occasions, He had not spent any extended time here concentrating on the effort to saturate the area with His claims concerning Himself. He does that now. It’s important to understand that by now the nation has made it clear (to Jesus alone) that they were determined to disbelieve. Besides that, this region is very much under the dominion of the rabbinic and Pharisaic leadership centered in Jerusalem. So, Jesus’s intent here is not to set His claims before the villages of Judea in the hope they would acknowledge Him. Rather, Jesus seems to be confronting this strategic region with His claims – and with miraculous demonstration of those claims – in order that “every mouth may be stopped,” that this generation would have no excuse for their rejection of Jesus.

A. Jesus Sends Out the Seventy/Seventy-Two

Scripture: Luke 10:1-24

Notes: This is similar to when He sent out the 12 late in His Galilean ministry, and the intent is the same – to get the message out quickly and dramatically, given that the time is short because of the anger of Jesus’s very powerful enemies.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that there is a textual issue with reference to the number. Some manuscripts of Luke say “seventy,” while others say “seventy-two.”
  2. Mark the purpose for which these were sent out, expressed by Jesus in Luke 10:1 – to go into every place where He was about to go. These 70 were not so much independent preaching teams as “set-up” teams, preparing the ground so that when Jesus came to a village He could quickly confront the place and be on to the next city. This is all a function of the sense of urgency born of the fact that Jesus’s time was so short.
  3. Notice that the commission which Jesus gave these emissaries (Luke 10:2-12) is very similar to that spoken to the 12 when they were sent out in Galilee (Matthew 10:5-42).

B. Eternal Life and the Good Samaritan

Scripture: Luke 10:25-37

Notes: Jesus was asked by a scribe (student of the Law) what had to be done to be saved. The parable was spoken in response to the conversation which ensued, and specifically to the question of the lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?”

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice the way the lawyer summarizes the Mosaic law? Where else do we encounter this summary? What does this suggest as to whether this man had been attending Jesus’s teachings before this point?
  2. There is some speculation as to the identity of this man. Do you know what identity is often conjectured?

C. Jesus Visits the Village of Bethany, Home of Lazarus and His Sisters

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

Notes: This home will become very strategic to Jesus during the week of His passion; He seems to be preparing for that week in making this visit.

Questions/Observations: Note that Bethany is a suburb of Jerusalem; it lies on the east of the city, on the backside of the Mount of Olives, about 1.25 miles away.

D. Jesus Instructs His Disciples Concerning Prayer

Scripture: Luke 11:1-13

Notes: The “Lord’s Prayer” is, in fact, a model prayer, spoken by Jesus in response to His disciples’ request, “Teach us to pray.”

Questions/Observations: Note the reference to John’s instruction of his disciples concerning prayer; this is the only reference of this in the New Testament.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).

23 In Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles

Dr. Doug Bookman

A. The Jewish Leaders Watch for Jesus

Scripture: John 7:11-13

Notes: Notice that by this time Jesus is very much the center of thought among the Jews, both the leadership and the common man.

B. Jesus Appears, Begins Teaching, and Creates a Stir

Scripture: John 7:14-36

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice that Jesus’s teaching in the temple at this Feast produced a great deal of skeptical and/or hostile reaction on the part of the multitudes who heard Him teach. In that regard, notice especially the opposite opinions discussed in John 7:28-31.
  2. Note that as a result of the excitement produced by Jesus’s preaching at the Feast, the “chief priests and Pharisees sent officers (temple guards supplied by the Romans) to arrest Him” (John 7:32). That sub-plot concludes later in the narrative.

C. On the Last Day of the Feast, Jesus Offers “Living Water”

Scripture: John 7:37-44

Notes: Notice especially the response of the multitudes to this remarkable offer made by Jesus.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Why was the offer of “living water” especially meaningful at the feast of Tabernacles?
  2. Notice the very interesting point of confusion regarding Jesus’s messianic credentials as recorded in the discussion of those who heard Him (John 7:41-42).

D. The Roman Officers Sent to Arrest Jesus Return Empty-Handed

Scripture: John 7:45-52

Notes: The Jewish authorities have determined to be rid of Jesus, as reflected in the fact that they had sent officers to arrest Him, and in their deliberations recorded in this section.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Compare John 7:45-49 with John 7:32. Evidently, the Roman officers sent to arrest Jesus were so impressed as they heard His words and confronted His person that they refused to do the bidding of the Jewish authorities.
  2. Who rises briefly (timidly?) to defend Jesus when the Jewish authorities are going about to condemn Him without any legal process? Again, this is reflective of a very important role this man plays in the narrative as crafted by John.

E. A Woman Caught in Adultery Is Brought to Jesus

Scripture: John 7:53

Notes: The strategy of Jesus’s enemies was very clever here, but Jesus’s counter-strategy was magisterial.

Questions/Observations:

  1. There is much discussion as to whether this account is authentic. What are the reasons it is denied authenticity by many? Do you have any strong opinion?
  2. Notice that the account begins with an indication of the remarkable fascination of the city for Jesus, and the anger of the Jewish leadership as a result of that.

F. Great Confrontation with the Jewish Leaders

Scripture: John 8:12-59

Notes: This is one of the more remarkable scenes in the ministry of Jesus. Trace well the claims made by Jesus, the angry response of the Jewish leadership, and the heated exchanges between them and Jesus.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Notice how Jesus argues for the validity and credibility of His claims.
  2. Mark well Jesus’s reference to being “lifted up” in John 8:28. What do you understand Jesus to mean by “lifted up”?
  3. John states in John 8:30 that “many believed in Him,” but he goes on to narrate Jesus’s interaction with those who had confessed belief (John 8:31-47). Given that subsequent discussion, how do you understand John’s statement in John 8:30?
  4. Notice the conversation that resulted in Jesus’s words, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). What was the significance of that strangely worded claim? Why did that claim so enrage Jesus’s detractors (cf. John 8:59)?

G. Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind; the Pharisees “Put Him Out”

Scripture: John 9:1-41

Notes: Remember that this occurs about six months before the Passover at which Jesus will die.

Questions/Observations:

  1. Note that this account commences with a very important insight offered by Jesus concerning God’s purposes in human suffering.
  2. Follow carefully the physical travels of the man who is healed. Why do you think Jesus sent him to wash in the Pool of Siloam? Notice in that regard that after he has been healed, he does not know Jesus by sight until Jesus introduces Himself to him.
  3. The stubborn and entirely irrational unbelief of the Pharisees in this incident is very important to an understanding of the way in which Jesus’s ministry is unfolding – and to the literary purposes of the apostle John.
  4. Note the repeated threat of the Pharisees to put a recalcitrant person “out of the synagogue”; this was a dire threat, and the capacity of the Pharisees to do this is very important to the drama unfolding during these last months of Jesus’s ministry.

H. Jesus Claims to Be the Good Shepherd and Divides the Crowd

Scripture: John 10:1-21

Notes: Given the chronological note of John 10:22, it seems best to attach this account to those preceding – that is, to see this discourse as part of Jesus’s extensive (and extensively recorded) ministry at the Feast of Tabernacles.

Questions/Observations: Notice that Jesus is speaking rather openly of His death by this point in His ministry.

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).