Christianity According to Christ

A Harmony and Consolidation of the Gospel of Jesus from Old and New Testaments -



Once, as Jesus and his disciples were walking along the road with a large crowd trailing behind, a teacher of the law came up to him and said: "Teacher, let me come and stay with you." Jesus replied, "Foxes have their dens and birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Another man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go, Lord, but first let me go back to bury my father and say goodbye to my family." But Jesus said to him, "Follow me now, and let the dead bury their own. No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit to proclaim or to serve in the kingdom of God."

And then, turning to the crowd, he said: "Suppose someone wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation but then isn't able to finish the job, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying: 'This fool started something he couldn't finish!' Or suppose a king with an army of ten thousand men is threatened by another king with an army of twenty thousand. Before he dashes off to fight, will not the first king sit down and consider whether he's able to overcome those superior forces? And if he decides he can't, won't he then send a delegation to the other king - while he's still a safe distance away - to ask for terms of peace?

"In the same way, I say to any one of you who would come after me: First, sit down and count the cost. For if you aren't willing to give up everything you have, you cannot be my disciple. Anyone who comes to me, and loves his father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me. Anyone who loves his brothers and sisters, or his wife and children - yes! even his own life! - more than me, is not worthy of me. And anyone who does not deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me without question or hesitation, is not worthy of me.

"Don't suppose for a moment that I've come to bring peace to the earth. No, I tell you! I didn't come with peace, but with a sword of division! As it is written, I've come to turn 'father against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.' From the moment you cast your lot with me, the world will hate you.

"Because of me, a family of five will be divided one against the other: three against two, and two against three. Because of me, brother will betray brother, a father his child, and children their parents. Because of me, a man's worst enemies will be the members of his own household, and some of you will even be put to death by your own relatives and friends."

Peter said to him, "But, Lord! We've left all we had to follow you! Will there be no compensation for us?" And Jesus replied to his disciples: "Don't be afraid, little flock. You can buy two sparrows for a penny, but I tell you that not one of them falls to the ground apart from the will of your Father in heaven. And you're worth more to him than countless sparrows. Even the very hairs of your head are numbered, and not one of them will perish without his knowledge. At the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will eat and drink at my table in my house. And, just as my Father conferred a kingdom on me, he has been pleased to confer one on each of you. You will also sit on thrones, in your own kingdoms, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Then Jesus said to them all: "I tell you the truth. No one who has left homes or fields, brothers or sisters, father or mother, or wife and children, and undergone persecution for the sake of me and my gospel in this present age, will fail to receive a hundred times as much and inherit eternal life in the age to come. So don't be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul. Rather, fear the One who can cast both body and soul into hell. Whoever seeks to save his life by turning away from me will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. And he who stands firm to the end will be saved!"

Mt 8:19-22
10:21-22, 28-31, and 34-39
Mk 7:6
Lk 9:23-24, and 57-62
12:32, and 51-53

Hometown Rejection

Early in his ministry, Jesus and some of his disciples visited Nazareth, the town where he grew up. Now, many of the people there had heard about all the things he had been saying and doing, and they just couldn't believe it. "Isn't this the same Jesus we know?" they asked. "The son of Joseph the carpenter and Mary? (Everyone in Nazareth thought Jesus was the natural son of Joseph). And didn't he and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and all of his sisters grow up right here among us? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven,' and where did he get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" And, other than to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them, Jesus could not do any miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Jesus himself was surprised by this and, when the Sabbath came, he went to explain it to the people in their synagogue. He said to them, "I'm sure some of you would like to quote the proverb to me, 'Physician, heal yourself!' And to say to me, 'Do for us here in your home town what you did in Capernaum.' But I tell you the truth, only in his home town - among his relatives and in his own house - is a prophet without honor."

Some of the people took offense at Jesus' remarks, because they seemed to shift the blame for his inability to do miracles on to them. But he continued: "And let me remind you that, in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land, there were many widows in Israel. Yet God didn't send Elijah to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And in the time of the prophet Elisha, there were many in Israel with leprosy. Yet not one of them - but only the Syrian, Naaman - was cleansed."

When they heard this, all the people in the synagogue became furious! Now Jesus was comparing himself with the greatest of the prophets and implying that God preferred non-believers to themselves! They got up and took him out to the brow of the hill on which the town was built to throw him off the cliff. But he miraculously walked right through the angry crowd and went on his way.

Mt 13:53-58
Mk 6:1-6
Lk 4:23-30
Jn 6:42

His Brothers' Disbelief

When Jesus' brothers heard about this, they said, "He's lost his mind!" For, at that time, even his own family didn't believe in him. And, dragging their mother along, they went to take charge of Jesus. Now Jesus and his disciples were staying in a private home, and the crowd that had gathered there to hear him speak was so large that it overflowed the house. And so - when his mother and brothers arrived - they were not able to get near him because of the crowd, and they sent someone in to call him outside.

Jesus was talking to the crowd when the messenger came in and called out to him, "Your mother and brothers are outside wanting to see you." Hearing this, a woman in the crowd said, "Blessed is the mother who gave birth and nursed you!" Jesus looked at her and at the others seated around him, and asked: "Who is my mother? And who are my brothers?" Then, pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here they are! For my mother and brothers - and sisters! - are those who hear my Word and put it into practice."

Mt 12:46-50
Mk 3:31-35
Lk 8:19-21
Jn 7:5

Desertion of Some Disciples

Not long after Jesus had fed the five thousand, he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. And some of the congregation asked him: "What works must we do to accomplish God's will?" Jesus said, "The only work God requires of you is to believe in the one he has sent; the one upon whom he has placed his seal of approval.

"It's written in the scriptures, 'All your sons will be taught by God,' but no one has ever actually laid eyes on him. No one, that is, except the one who came from his presence. Everyone who comes to me listens to and learns from the Father who sent me, and everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. And I will lose none of them, but shall raise them up at the last day. Unfortunately, even though you've all seen me, many of you still don't believe."

Then some of the people - who, because their hearts were hardened, hadn't understood the real significance of Jesus' increase of the loaves and fishes - asked him: "Well, why don't you give us some miraculous sign so that we may see it and believe in you? For example, it's written that the Lord said to Moses in the desert: 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you.' And our forefathers ate their fill of the manna Moses gave them."

"So that's it!" Jesus exclaimed. "You aren't here to discover the truth about me, but because you saw those loaves appear and you ate your fill. And now you're just looking for more of the same. Listen to me! Don't seek after the food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life. This is the kind of bread, of which a man may eat and not die, that the Son of Man can give you if you but ask."

"Then, sir!" they said. "By all means, give us some of this bread!" Jesus replied: "I'm still not sure you understand what I'm telling you. To begin with, it wasn't Moses but my Father who gave your forefathers the manna in the desert. And even though they ate their fill of it, they eventually died. But now God has sent you the true bread from heaven, and anyone who eats of it will live forever."

And he said: "I am that living bread that came down from heaven to give life to the world! I haven't come to do my will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is his will: he who comes to me - and no one can come to me unless the Father draws him - and he who believes in me will never be hungry or thirsty again!" At this, some Pharisees in the congregation began to grumble about Jesus among themselves: "Here he goes again, saying: 'I came down from heaven'."

"Stop your grumbling," Jesus said. "Soon enough, you'll see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before. And then, just as I live because I feed on the living Father who sent me, so will the one who feeds on me live because of me. For this bread of which I speak is my body, which I will give for the life of the world. This is the real food and drink you should be seeking: my flesh and blood. For whoever eats and drinks of it remains in me, and I in him. And I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you will have no part of the life to come."

On hearing this, the Pharisees raised their voices in sharp protest: "This man's asking us to eat his flesh! How can he say such a thing?" And even many of Jesus' disciples said, "This is a hard teaching! Who can accept it?" Aware that some of his disciples were repelled by what he had said, Jesus asked them: "Does this offend you also? These words I've spoken to you are not about my actual flesh, but about the Spirit of God and the everlasting life that only the Spirit can give." Even after this explanation, however, many of his disciples went back to their homes and - from this time on - no longer followed him.

Then Jesus turned and asked the Twelve: "Don't you want to leave too?" Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go? We know you're the Holy One of God, and believe that what you've just said are the words of eternal life." Jesus nodded. "This is what I was getting at when I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him. All that the Father gives me will come. And, because he has given them to me, whoever comes I will never drive away."

Mk 6:52
Jn 6:26-41, 43-63, and 65-69
Ex 16:4
Is 54:13

First Offences

Once while Jesus and his disciples were out touring the countryside, a man who was blind and mute was brought before him to be healed. Seeing that his afflictions were caused by a demon, Jesus drove the evil spirit out of him. And, when the demon was driven out, the man could both see and speak. Most of the people who witnessed this were astonished, and said: "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel! Could this be the Messiah?" But there were some members of the ruling council present - Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come down from Jerusalem to evaluate Jesus - and when they heard this, they said amongst themselves: "This fellow's possessed by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. That's how he's able to drive them out."

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus called out: "Some of you claim that I drive out demons by the power of Beelzebub." And he spoke to them in parables, saying: "When a strong, fully-armed man guards his own house, his possessions are safe, for no one can get past him to enter the house and carry them off. That is, unless someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, disarms him and ties him up. That man can then rob the house and divide the spoils as he pleases. Now, who is stronger than Satan? Let your own people be your judges in this matter. In whose name do they try to drive out demons? Or again, a kingdom divided against itself will not stand, and a house divided against itself will fall into ruin. So how can Satan's own drive out Satan? I tell you the truth, if he opposes himself, his kingdom cannot stand and his end has come.

"I'm making an issue of this because the kingdom of God has come upon you. In fact, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man enter into it. Then, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. Except one! Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, in this age or in the age to come.

"And so I tell you, be sure of your accusations, because - if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons - everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man is guilty of an eternal sin. Consider carefully what you see and hear, and don't rush to judgement. For in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

"Also be sure that you don't have worse sins to account for than those of which you accuse others. How can you see a bit of sawdust in your brother's eye and say to him, 'Hold still now, brother, and let me take that speck out of your eye,' when all the time there's a plank in your own eye? What hypocrisy! First, get that plank out of your eye, and then you'll see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

"You teachers of the law and Pharisees must be especially careful about this, because you're in positions of authority and others blindly follow your example. And when that example is bad, you're like unmarked graves which people walk over without knowing it and thereby make themselves unclean in the eyes of the law. I tell you the truth, such men will be punished more severely than others for their sins."

One of the teachers of the Law spoke up angrily: "Take care, Rabbi! When you say these things, you insult us." And then, becoming angry himself because of their self-righteousness and arrogance, Jesus said: "If what I say applies to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, then woe to you! You hypocrites! You're like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside but, on the inside, are full of dead men's bones. Or the cup and the dish that are clean on the outside but, inside, are full of everything unclean. In the same way, you appear to people as righteous on the outside but, inside, are full of greed, self-indulgence and wickedness. You yourselves will not enter the kingdom of God, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. By your teaching, you slam the door in their faces!

"And you do many things like that. You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions. For example, God said to Moses: 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who doesn't must be put to death.' But you say that if a man tells his parents, 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban, a gift devoted to God, then he's no longer required to do anything for them. Thus you nullify the Word of God by your tradition that you've handed down.

"You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say: 'If we'd lived in the days of our forefathers, we wouldn't have taken part with them in shedding the blood of these good men. But, by holding on to their traditions at the expense of the commandments of God, you testify against yourselves that you approve of what your forefathers did. And you perpetuate the sin your forefathers began. Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees! The Lord was talking about you hypocrites when he spoke through the prophet Isaiah: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain, for their teachings are only rules made up by men'."

"Woe to you Pharisees, you hypocrites! You strain at gnats but swallow camels whole! You carefully portion out a tenth of your spices and herbs - mint, rue, dill, and even cummin - to give to God. But you completely neglect the more matters of the law, such as justice, mercy, faithfulness and the love of God. It's good that you practice the former, but most certainly not at the expense of leaving the latter undone.

"You travel over land and sea to win a single convert and, when he becomes one, your teaching sends him straight to hell! You make lengthy prayers in public for a show and, as soon as no one's around, go off and eveict widows from their homes. Woe to you!

"And you teachers of the law, woe to you! You load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, but you yourselves won't lift a finger to help them.

"Woe to all of you! Save yourselves before it's too late! You aren't just serpents here and there: you're an entire brood of vipers! I tell you for the sake of your soul, don't judge and you won't be judged. Don't condemn, and you won't be condemned. Give, and it will be given to you: a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing into your lap. Now, go! and learn what these words mean: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' and you won't be so quick to condemn the innocent. As you are, how will you escape being condemned?"

Later, after Jesus had left the crowd, the disciples came to him and said: "Lord, do you know that some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law took offense at your words?" Jesus replied, "Pay no attention to them. If they call the head of the house Beelzebub, what do you suppose they think of the members of his household. They are blind guides, and whoever follows a blind man's lead will end up with him in the pit.

But those Pharisees and teachers of the law were furious and determined to fiercely oppose him. And - along with the Herodians and Sadducees, who had their own reasons for disliking Jesus - began to discuss with one another what they might do to punish him. They laid plans to send some of their own disciples as spies to keep a close watch on him. Also, posing as honest questioners, these spies hoped to trap Jesus into saying something intemperate that they might use as a basis for accusing him of some civil or religious offense.

Mt 23:16a Woe to you blind guides.
Mt 23:17a You blind fools!
Mt 23:19a You blind men!

Mt 7:1-5
9:13a, and 32-34
12:7, 22-29, and 31-32
16:4b, and 28
23:13-15, 23-24, and 27-33
Mk 3:22-30
12:13, and 40
Lk 6:11, 37-39, and 41-42
11:14-23, 39, 42, 44-48, 52-53a, and 54
Jn 8:6a
Is 8:6a


So it was that these imposters came to Jesus and began to besiege him with questions. And the Herodians, who advocated collaboration with Rome, spoke first. They had carefully crafted their question as a trap, which Jesus couldn't answer without either offending independence-minded Jews or giving the Herodians grounds for handing him over to the power and authority of the Roman governor.

"Teacher," they said, "we know you're a man of integrity because you, yourself, have told us that you speak only of what is right and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Also, that you aren't swayed by partiality to men because of their position and status. Tell us then: what's your opinion? Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar? Should we pay or shouldn't we?"

Jesus immediately saw through their duplicity, and said to them: "You wouldn't be trying to trap me, would you? Someone here show me what you use to pay the tax." A man held up a one-denarius coin, and Jesus asked the crowd: "Whose portrait and inscription do I see on that?" "Caesar's," they replied. And Jesus said, "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

Mt 22:16-21
Mk 12:14-17a
Lk 20:21-25

Later that same day, the Sadducees - who say there is no resurrection - posed their question to Jesus. "Teacher," they said, "Moses tells us in the Scriptures that if a man's brother dies leaving a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children by her to carry on the name of his dead brother. Now, there were seven brothers among us. The first one married a woman and died childless. The second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. The same thing happened with the third brother, and so on right down to the seventh. None of the brothers left any children and, finally, the woman herself died. Now then, at this supposed resurrection that you speak of, whose wife will she be, since all seven of the brothers were married to her?"

Jesus replied, "The children of this age marry and are given in marriage until they are parted by death. But when the dead rise, those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age become children of the resurrection. They are like the angels in heaven, for they can no longer die and will neither marry nor be given in marriage.

"Now, as to 'this supposed resurrection' that you seem to suggest is something I invented, it was Moses himself who first showed us that the dead rise. Haven't you read the account of the burning bush in the book of Moses, where he recalls how the Lord said to him: 'I AM the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'. The Lord speaks of these ancient patriarchs in the present tense for, to him, they are all alive. You people are doubly mistaken, because you don't know your Scriptures and you trivialize the power of God! He isn't merely some pagan god of the dead, but the God of everything living from the beginning until the ending of time!"

Mt 22:23-32
Mk 12:18-27
Lk 20:27-38
Dt 22:5-6

Then, hearing how Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, it became the turn of the Pharisees to test him. "Teacher," they asked, "Why don't you put these critics of yours in their place by showing them a miraculous sign from heaven?"

Jesus again recognized their evil intent, and he sighed deeply and said: "You hypocrites! A wicked and faithless generation asks for yet another miraculous sign. I tell you the truth, the men of Nineveh will stand at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And now one greater than Jonah is here, and you will not repent. The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom. And now one greater than Solomon is here, and you will not listen."

And then, as the crowds increased, Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed: "Another miraculous sign? Woe to you, Korazin and Bethsaida! And you, Capernaum! Will you be lifted to the skies? No! I tell you, you will go down to the depths! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. If they had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But woe to you, because it will be more bearable for those evil cities on the day of judgement than for you.

"Why does this generation need more miraculous signs? In the morning, when the south wind blows, you take one look at the sky and say, 'It's going to be a hot one today.' And so it is. And when evening comes, and you see dark clouds rising in the west and the whole sky is red and overcast, you immediately say: 'Tomorrow, it's going to be stormy'. And sure enough, it rains. Now, how is it that you seem to be able to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky at a glance, but can't seem to understand the obvious signs of the times?

"This wicked generation asks for another miraculous sign, but none will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. Just as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish as a sign to the Ninevites, so the Son of Man will be three days in the heart of the earth."

Mt 11:20-24
Mk 8:11-12
Lk 10:13:15
11:16, and 29-32

Finally, it was the turn of the teachers of the law to test Jesus. And one of them, an eminent legal expert, stood up and asked him this question: "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "You've read the law," Jesus replied. "Do what's written in it, and you'll live."

"But there are many commandments in the law," the man replied. "Of them all, which are the most important?" Jesus replied, "All the Law and the Prophets hang on two commandments, and the first and greatest one is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' And the second greatest is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There are no commandments in all the law greater than these."

Compelled to acknowledge that Jesus had given a good answer, the legal expert said, "Teacher, no one can deny that you're right when you say that God is one, and that there is no other but him. And, surely, to love him with all your heart, strength and understanding, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." But he still wanted to justify himself to his companions, so he asked Jesus: "And who is my neighbor?"

In reply, Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he carefully detoured around him and passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite - a member of the clan of priests - came to the place. And when he saw the man lying there unconscious, he too passed by him on the other side of the road.

"But then a Samaritan, as he was traveling along, came to where the man was, and when he saw him, took pity on him. He went to the man and, pouring oil and wine on his wounds, bandaged him up. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and cared for him all that night. The next day, he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I come back this way, I'll reimburse you for any extra expense you may have incurred'."

Then Jesus asked, "Now, which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the Law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." When Jesus saw that he'd answered wisely, he said to him: "You're not far from the kingdom of God. Now go, and do likewise."

With so many of his critics gathered together in one place, Jesus said to them: "While we're at it, what do you experts think about the Christ? Who is he?" "The son of David," they replied. Jesus asked: "But how is it then that David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, calls him 'my Lord' in the Book of Psalms? For he says, 'The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”.' Why would David call his own son 'Lord'?" No one had an answer for this, and they all remained silent.

The large crowd that had assembled when they heard this debating going on listened to these exchanges with delight, and they were astonished at Jesus' knowledge of the Scriptures and how he had silenced his learned critics. Even some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law responded, "Well said, teacher!" and asked each other: "How did this man get such learning without having studied with us?" They finally admitted to themselves that they were unable to trap Jesus in what he said in public, so they left him and went away. And from that day on, no one dared to ask him any more insincere questions.

Mt 22:22;33;35-46
Mk 12:17b;28-34;35b-37
Lk 10:25-37
20:26, and 29-44
Jn 7:15
Lv 19:18b
Dt 6:4-5
Ps 110:1

Sabbath Controversies

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Now, just inside the city walls near the Sheep Gate, there is a pool surrounded by five covered colonnades which is called Bethesda. Here, a great number of disabled people - the blind, the lame and the paralyzed - used to lie waiting for the moving of the waters by an angel of the Lord. The first one in the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease he had.

One of those at the pool was a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him: "Do you want to get well?" "Yes, sir," the invalid replied, "but I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!" At once the man was cured, and he picked up his mat and walked away.

Is so happened that the day on which this took place was a Sabbath. Some Pharisees saw the man who had been healed and said to him: "It's the Sabbath, and the law forbids you to carry your mat." He replied: "The man who made me well said to me, "Pick up your mat and walk," and I did! The Pharisees asked him, "What's the name of this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?" But the man had no idea who it was, for Jesus had quietly slipped away into the crowd that was there.

Later on, though, the man saw Jesus at the temple. And recognizing him, Jesus said: "I see that you're well again. Stop sinnning, for there are worse things than physical afflictions that can happen to you." The man went away and told the Pharisees who it was that had made him well, and they added violations of the Sabbath laws to their growing list of reasons to persecute Jesus.

Jn 5:1-16

Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from Jerusalem. Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country but, when he arrived back in Galilee, he was welcomed everywhere, for many of the people also had been at the Passover feast and seen all that he had done there. A large crowd followed him as he went from place to place, and he healed all their sick.

When the Sabbath came, Jesus went to the local synagogue. Some Pharisees and teachers of the law who were there, looking for a reason to accuse him, watched closely to see if he would again break the Sabbath laws. And so, as Jesus was teaching, they asked him with feigned innocence: "Rabbi, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"

But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He looked at them in anger and said: "Let me ask you some questions! Which is lawful on the Sabbath? To do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it? If any of you had a sheep and it fell into a pit on the Sabbath, would you not take hold of it and lift it out? And how much more valuable is a man than a sheep?" They remained silent.

Then Jesus, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to them, "I tell you, it is always lawful to do good on the Sabbath!" He looked around the room and saw a man with a shriveled right hand. And he said to the man, "Get up and stand here in front of everyone." The man came up and stood there beside him, and Jesus said, "Stretch out your hand." The man stretched it out, and it was completely restored; just as sound as the other one!

Mt 12:9-10;13;15
Mk 3:1-5
Lk 6:6-10
Jn 4:45

On another Sabbath when Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, he saw a woman there who had been crippled by an evil spirit for eighteen years. He called her forward and she hobbled up to him; bent over and unable to stand erect. Jesus put his hands on her and said: "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." And she straightened up immediately, praising God!

Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, "There are six days for work, so come and be healed on those days. Not on the Sabbath!" Jesus retorted: "You hypocrites! Is there a one of you who wouldn't untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water on the Sabbath? Then why shouldn't this woman - a daughter of Abraham whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years! - be set free on the Sabbath from what bound her?"

Lk 13:10-16

Another Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was once again being watched, by the teachers of the law and other Pharisees who were present, for Sabbath-day improprieties. This time, Jesus asked the question: "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?" As before, everyone remained silent.

So Jesus asked, "If one of you had and ox - No! Let's say a son - that fell into a well on the Sabbath, would you not immediately take hold of him and pull him out?" But they still had nothing to say. There in front of Jesus was a man suffering from dropsy, an extremely painful accumulation of fluid in the body cavity. And, taking hold of the man, Jesus immediately healed him and sent him on his way.

Lk 14:1-6

On yet another Sabbath, Jesus and his disciples were going through the grainfields. The disciples were hungry at the time and - as they walked along - they began to pick heads of grain, rub them in their hands to remove the beards, and eat the kernels. Some Pharisees were walking with them and, when they saw this, they said to Jesus: "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath!"

Jesus replied: "Haven't you read in the law that, on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here in this field. And remember what David did in the days of Abiathar the high priest when he and his companions were hungry and in need. He entered the house of God and took the consecrated bread. And, giving some to his companions, they ate it, which was not lawful for them but only for the priests."

Then Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of this holy day."

Mt 12:1-8
Mk 2:23-28
Lk 6:1-5

The Raising of Lazarus

Now there was a woman named Martha who lived in the village of Bethany just outside of Jerusalem with her brother, a quiet and unassuming man named Lazarus, and her sister Mary. Martha, who opened her home to Jesus and his disciples whenever they were in the area, was generally esteemed in that town as an industrious and circumspect woman. Mary, however, was regarded as something of a sinner: an idler and overly attentive to men.

Once when Jesus was staying with them, for example, Martha was bustling about the house - distracted by all the preparations that she felt had to be made for the Lord's visit - while Mary sat at his feet listening to what he said. Becoming irritated by Mary's inactivity, Martha came to Jesus and asked: "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" But he said to her, "Martha, you let yourself become worried and upset about everything but the one thing that's really needed. Mary has chosen that thing and it will not be taken away from her."

Despite their differences, or perhaps because of them, Jesus came to love these three in a very special way. So it was that when Lazarus became deathly ill, the sisters sent word to Jesus: "Lord, the one you love is sick and about to die." When he heard this, Jesus said to his disciples: "No, this sickness will not end in death. It is for God's glory, so that his Son may be glorified through it and so that you may believe." Yet, having said this, Jesus stayed where he was, in no apparent hurry to go to Lazarus' side.

But then, two days later, he said to his disciples: "Now, let's go back to Judea." "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you there, and yet you're going back?" Jesus answered, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, and I must go there to wake him up." His disciples, who thought he meant natural sleep, replied: "Lord, if you just let him sleep, he'll get better." But Jesus had been speaking of Lazarus' death, so then he told them plainly: "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I'm glad I wasn't there. But now, let's go to him." Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go. We may as well die with him."

On his arrival, as he was about to enter the village, Jesus found that Lazarus had indeed died and had already been in the tomb for four days. When Martha heard that Jesus had finally come, she went to meet him. "Lord," she said reproachfully, "if you had been here, my brother wouldn't have died."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." "I know, Lord," she replied. "He'll rise and live again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, will live again and never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him. "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world. And I know that, even now, God will give you whatever you ask."

After she had said this, Martha hurried back home to her sister and called her aside (Mary had stayed home to host the many Judeans who had come to visit her and Martha, and comfort them in the loss of their brother). "The Teacher is here," Martha said, "and is asking for you." When Mary heard this, she immediately got up and went to Jesus.

When the other mourners in the house noticed how quickly Mary got up and went out, they followed her and Martha, supposing they were going to the tomb to mourn there. Jesus was still at the place where Martha had met him and, when Mary got there and saw him, she fell at his feet weeping. And she, too, said: "Lord, if you'd been here, my brother wouldn't have died." When Jesus saw her - and the others who had come with her - weeping, he was deeply moved and troubled in spirit. And he also wept. Then some of the Judeans exclaimed, "See how he loved him!" But the others said, "Couldn't he who opened the eyes of the blind have gotten here sooner and kept this man from dying?"

"Where have you laid him?" Jesus asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. They arrived at the tomb; a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. Still visibly moved, Jesus said: "Take away the stone." "But, Lord!" said Martha: "He's been in there for four days! By this time, there's bound to be a bad odor." Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

So they took away the stone, and Jesus looked up and said: "Father, I know that you've always heard my private prayers and I thank you for it. But hear me now on behalf of the people standing here, so that they may know that you sent me, and believe." Then he called in a loud voice: "Lazarus! Come forth!" And the dead man, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen and a cloth around his face, walked out of the tomb! Jesus said to those standing nearby: "Get these grave clothes off of him, and take him home."

Now, because of the many Judeans who had come to visit Mary and Martha in their bereavement, the crowd that had seen first-hand what Jesus did - when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead - was exceptionally large. Most of the people (including many Pharisees) that witnessed this miraculous sign put their faith in Jesus, and went out to spread the Word.

But some of the Pharisees continued to doubt. They went to Jerusalem and called a meeting of the Sanhedrin: a group of seventy of the country's leading priests, elders and teachers of the law, which served as a supreme court on religious matters. The Pharisees told them what Jesus had done, and it started an uproar. They bemoaned to one another: "Here is this man performing his miraculous signs again, and just look how the whole world has gone after him! If we let him go on like this, everybody will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation!"

Then one of them - a Sadducee named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year - spoke up: "Look! This hand-wringing is getting us nowhere! You're all behaving as if you know nothing, and what are we accomplishing? Don't you realize," he asked, "that it's better for one man to die 'for the people' than that the whole nation perish?" (Caiaphas himself didn't realize that he wasn't saying this on his own, but was prophesying. Jesus would indeed die: not only for the Jewish nation, but for all the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.)

So it was that the Sanhedrin began to make plans as to kill Jesus. And Lazarus as well: for it was felt that, on account of him providing living evidence of Jesus' miraclulous powers, so many of the Jews were putting their faith in him. When he learned that they plotted to take his life, Jesus could no longer move about publicly in Judea. Instead, he withdrew with his disciples to the hill country, where they stayed in a village called Ephraim.

Lk 10:38-41
Jn 11:1-2a, 3-8, and 11-54

Open Aggression

After a time, Jesus went back into Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because he knew that his life was in danger there. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers came to him and said: "Since you are set on doing these things, you should show yourself to the world. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. You ought to leave here and go to Jerusalem so that your disciples may see the miracles you do."

Jesus told them, "The authorities there hate me because I testify that what they do is evil. Therefore, I am not going up to this feast, because the right time for me to confront them has not yet come. But you go. For you, any time is right, because they have no reason to hate you." And, having said this, he stayed behind in Galilee. However, after his brothers gone, he went also: not publicly, but in secret.

Now, the authorities were indeed watching for Jesus, and asking themselves, "Where is that man?" So it was not until halfway through the Feast that Jesus ventured up to the temple courts. Once there, however, he began to teach. He said, apparently to all the people there but - in reality - to his opponents: "I did one miracle here on the Sabbath and you were all upset. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it didn't come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you're perfectly willing to circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now, if you can circumcise a child on the Sabbath, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on that day? So that the law of Moses may not be broken? Not one of you keeps the law! If you did, you wouldn't be trying to kill me."

Some people in the crowd called out: "Who's trying to kill you?" "You must be demon-possessed!" Jesus answered, "There's nothing false or crazy about the man who works for the honor of the one who sent him. He is a man of truth. It's the man who speaks on his own behalf that you need to beware of, because he does so only to gain honor for himself. My teaching is not my own; it comes from Him who sent me. And anyone who chooses to serve Him will find this out."

On hearing his words, some of the people said, "He is the Christ!" But others said, "When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from. We know where this man came from." And still others asked, "How can the Christ come from Galilee? Doesn't the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?"

Hearing these questions, Jesus said, "Yes, you all think you know me and where I'm from. But judge rightly and not by mere appearances: I didn't come here the way you think. You don't know the One who sent me, but I know Him because I came from Him. He sent me to be with you for only a short time, and then I will return to Him. You will look for me but you will not find me; because where I go, you cannot come."

This caused a stir in the crowd. The people asked one another: "What did this man mean when he said, 'Where I go you can't come?' Does he mean to kill himself? Is that why? And where does he intend to go that we can't find him? Will he go to where our people live scattered among the Gentiles and teach?" And one of the people spoke up: "We've heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever. So, if you're Him, how can you say that you'll be leaving us?"

Jesus didn't answer him directly, but said: "Listen to this parable: There was once a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented it to some farmers and went away on a long journey. At harvest time, the landowner sent a servant to the tenants to collect some of the fruit of the vineyard from them as rent. But the tenants siezed the servant, beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. So the owner sent another servant to them, and that one the tenants treated even more shamefully than the first. He sent a third servant, and then many others, and the tenants treated them all the same way. Some of them they beat or stoned, and others they even killed.

"Finally, the owner of the vineyard said to himself, 'What else can I do? I will send my only son, whom I love. Surely they will respect him!' But when the tenants saw the son, they talked the matter over among themselves: 'This is the heir,' they said to each other. 'Come, let's kill him, and his inheritance will be ours.' So they siezed the son and killed him, and threw his body out of the vineyard.

"Now, what do you think the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants? I'll tell you what! He'll come and bring them to a wretched end, and rent the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time! In the same way, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and given to a people who will produce its fruit!"

When the people heard this, they cried out, "May this never be!" Jesus did not reply, but spoke to them again in parables, saying: "A certain king was preparing a great wedding banquet for his son and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet, he sent his servants to remind those who had been invited to come. But every last one of them either paid no attention or began to make excuses. One said, 'I've just bought a field, and must go and inspect it. Please excuse me.' Another said, 'I've just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.' And they all went off ; one to his field, another to his business, and so on.

"The servants came back and reported this to their master, and he said: 'Go and track those people down and tell them: ‘Come now, for everything is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and I have prepared my dinner.’ Some still refused politely, but others mistreated the servants and even killed them. The king was enraged, and said: 'Not a one of those men I invited deserved to get a taste of my banquet. Or any other! And he sent soldiers to destroy them and burn their homes.

"Then the king said to his servants, 'So that my house may be full, go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town, and invite to the banquet the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' A short time later, the master of the banquet came to him and reported: 'Sir, what you ordered has been done, but there is still room at the table.' Then the king told his servants, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and bring in anyone you find. And, if necessary, force them to come!' So the servants went out and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here dressed like that?' The man had no answer. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie this man hand and foot, and throw him outside into the darkness where he can weep and gnash his teeth in an empty mouth'!" Jesus concluded, "I tell you the truth, the kingdom of God is like that wedding banquet. For many are invited, but few are chosen."

When the teachers of the law, chief priests and Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. As if to confirm this, Jesus looked directly at them and said: "Have you never read that which is written in the Scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? I tell you that everyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, and he upon whom it falls will be crushed!" They looked for a way to arrest him then and there but were afraid of the crowd, because many of the people held that Jesus was a prophet. So, grumbling and muttering, they left as a group and went away to decide what they must do. Jesus left also, and went to spend the night on the Mount of Olives. And, gradually, the crowd dispersed; each one going to his own accomodations.

At that point however, there began a widespread whispering about Jesus. No one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the authorities, but the people began to ask one another: "Isn't this the man they're trying to kill? Yet here he is, speaking publicly in the temple courts, and they're not saying a word to him. Have they concluded that he's the Christ?" Some among the crowds said, "He's a good man; surely he's the Prophet." Others replied, "No, he deceives the people." Thus, they were divided in their opinions of him. But as they heard him speak, many began to put their faith in him. They said, "When the Christ does come, will he do more miracles than this man?"

The chief priests and Pharisees heard about the crowd whispering such things. "A curse on them!" they said. "This mob knows nothing of the law! Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in him? No!" But one of their own number - Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier - asked: "Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?" The others retorted, "Are you from Galilee too? Look into it, and you'll find that the Prophet doesn't come from there."

Mt 7:21;33-46
Mk 12:1-12
Lk 20:9-19
Jn 7:1-29, 31-32a, 40-43, and 48-52

At dawn the next day, the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus appeared again in the temple courts area. He sat down near the place where the offerings were put and, once more, all the people gathered around him.

Jesus stood up to teach, and he said to them in a loud voice: "As I said yesterday, you seem determined to kill me. But why? Don't you believe me? I can only say that I'm telling you the truth. Is my language not clear to you? You appear unable to hear what I say. Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? Perhaps when you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know the truth. And the truth will set you free."

One of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Who is this 'Son of Man' you say must be 'lifted up'? And how can you say that we'll be set free? We're Abraham's descendants and not slaves of anyone. " Jesus replied, "Every one of you is a slave to sin, and a slave has no permanent place in the family. But a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free from sin, you will be free indeed."

Jesus continued: "I know that you're Abraham's physical descendants but, if you were truly his children, you would do the things that Abraham did. Yet you dishonor me and are ready to kill me because you have no room for my Word. Abraham didn't do such things. I honor my Father, and tell you the truth about what I have seen and heard in his presence." The Pharisee said, "The only Father we have is God." And Jesus replied: "He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you don't hear is that you don't belong to him."

Then all the authorities present began to protest: "You're calling us illigitimate children!" Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father you would love me, for I came from him and now am here among you. You belong to your father Satan, and are doing the things you've heard from him! He was a murderer from the beginning, and not holding to the truth because it isn't in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

"I am not here seeking glory. If I glorify myself, it means nothing. But there is one who does seek it, and he is the Supreme Judge. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the One who will glorify me."

At this, Jesus' opponents began to pick up rocks to stone him but - slipping away from the temple grounds - he left and hid himself from them. From then on though, the authorities were more determined than ever to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father: the equal of God Himself.

Jn 5:18
7:37a, and 40-44
8:2, 20-22, 32-47, 49b-50, and 54-55

Despite these dire warnings, Jesus returned to Jerusalem that winter to celebrate the Jewish Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah). As he was walking in Solomon's Colonnade in the temple area, some of the authorities joined the crowd that was gathered around him, and asked: "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you're the Christ, tell us plainly." "I did tell you," Jesus answered, "but you wouldn't believe me. Let me explain it to you again in figurative terms.

"The shepherd of the flock enters the sheepfold by the gate, which the watchman opens for him. The man who does not enter by the gate - but climbs in by some other way - is a thief and a robber, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy. The good shepherd calls his own sheep by name, and the sheep listen to him and follow him because they recognize his voice. But they will never follow a stranger and - in fact - will run away from him, because they don't recognize the stranger's voice. The good shepherd leads his sheep out through the gate. And, when he has brought all of them out, he goes on ahead of them to find pasture. When a wolf attacks the flock and scatters it, a hired man abandons the flock and runs away as soon as he sees the wolf coming; because he is, after all, only a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. But the good shepherd, who owns the sheep, will lay down his life for them ."

The authorities clearly did not understand what he was telling them, so Jesus explained: "I am the good shepherd, and all who ever came before me were thieves and robbers. The sheep - my people - didn't listen to them, but they listen to me. Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, I know my sheep and they know me and follow me. No one can snatch them out of my hand, because my Father - who is the Owner of All and who loves me - has given them to me.

"I have come to give my sheep life, and they will have it to the full and never perish. And this command I received from my Father: I will lay down my life for my sheep. No one takes it from me, but I have authority to lay it down of my own accord. And authority to take it up again!

"The reason you don't understand what I say is that you are not my sheep. Don’t believe me unless I do what my Father does. But even though you don’t believe me, believe the miracles that I do in my Father’s name. They speak for me, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father. I tell you the truth, the Father and I are one!"

Once again, the authorities began to pick up rocks to stone him, but Jesus said to them: "I've shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of them do you want to stone me? "We're not stoning you for any of them," replied his opponents, "but for blasphemy; because you, a mere man, claim to be God!"

Jesus said to them: "Is it not written in your law, 'I have said you are all gods; sons of the most high?' Now, if the Lord called those to whom his Word came 'gods,' why do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said 'I am God's Son.' The authorities, unable to answer this and afraid of the crowd, began to walk away. But Jesus called after them, "What about the one whom the Father set apart as His very own and sent into the world? Aren't you going to ask me about that?"

Fuming, the authorities sent temple guards to arrest Jesus. They tried to sieze him but he somehow escaped their grasp and disappeared into the crowd. Finally, after a long search, the guards went back empty-handed. The authorities asked them, "Why didn't you bring him in?" "No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared. The authorities retorted: "What you really mean is that he has deceived you also!"

Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John the Baptist had been baptizing in the early days, and he stayed there for a time. Many people in that place came to hear him teach, and many came to believe in him. They said, "Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that he said about this man was true."

Jn 7:32b;45-47
Ps 82:6

The Road to the Cross

Jesus returned to Galilee and was reunited with his disciples. That spring, he took the Twelve and some of the others aside, and told all of them plainly what was about to happen to him: "We're going back to Jerusalem for the Passover," he said, "and the Son of Man must suffer many things. He will be betrayed into the hands of the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law, and be rejected by them. They will rule that he must die and hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him, spit on him and flog him. Finally, he will be condemned to death, and he will be crucified and killed."

The Twelve were again filled with grief, while the other disciples were astonished and afraid. And Peter rebuked Jesus: "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" But Jesus turned to him and said, "You don't have in mind the things of God but the things of men, and you're a stumbling block to me! Get behind me, Satan!

"Just as the Lord told Moses in the desert to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole, so that anyone who had been bitten by a snake - and who believed - could look to it and live, so the Son of Man must be lifted up (Jesus was talking about his crucifixion). But after three days, he will rise again! And everyone who looks to him and believes in him shall have eternal life."

Mt 16:21-23
Mk 8:31-33
Jn 3:14-15
Nu 21:8

Jesus knew that he had come from God for only a short while. And, as the time approached for him to return to God, he resolutely set out for Jerusalem: still teaching as he made his way through the towns and villages. And he sent messengers on ahead to get things ready for him.

James and John went ahead of him into one Samaritan village. But the people there did not welcome Jesus, because knew he was heading for Jerusalem: a despised place to most Samaritans. When the disciples reported this to Jesus, they asked: "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them, even as Elijah did?" But Jesus rebuked them: "You don't seem to know the kind of Spirit you follow. The Father put all things on earth under my power, but the Son of Man came to save men's lives; not to destroy them."

"Soon enough, everyone will be salted - with fire! Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, you can't make it become salty again. It's no longer fit for anything, not even the manure pile, except to be thrown out on the pathway and trampled by men. Be at peace with each other and within yourselves, for you are the salt of the earth." And after he said this, they went on to the next village on the road to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way.

Mt 5:13
Mk 9:49-50
Lk 9:51-56
Jn 13:3

By now, Jesus' name had become well known, and reports of what he was doing began to reach Herod. The Tetrarch asked his attendants, "Who is this that I hear such things about?" And, at first, he was perplexed by their answers. For some said that Elijah had reappeared, and others, that he was one of the other ancient prophets come back to life. But then others said, "It is John the Baptist, risen from the dead!" And he tried to see Jesus to confirm this.

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "You'd better forget this trip to Jerusalem, and go somewhere else. Herod is looking for you, probably to kill you." He replied, "Got tell that deceiver, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow and, on the third day, I will reach my goal.' In any case, no prophet can die outside Jerusalem."

Mt 14:1-2
Mk 6:14-16
Lk 9:7-9

Jesus' Anointing

Six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus and his disciples arrived in Bethany where - as usual - they stayed in the home of that same Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Now when Jesus' opponents learned that he was there in town, one of the Pharisees - a man known as Simon the Leper - invited the entire household to a dinner given in Jesus' "honor" at his home. So, at the appointed time, they all went to the Pharisee's house. And they found a large crowd of people already there, who had come to lay eyes on these two trouble-makers.

Jesus reclined at the table, his disciples and Lazarus around him, while Martha - as might be expected - helped to serve the meal. As the dinner was about to begin, Mary came into the house, carrying an alabaster jar. She stood behind Jesus weeping and, as she wept, his feet became wet with her tears. Then she knelt down and wiped them with her hair and kissed them.

When the host of the dinner saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he'd know who's touching him and what kind of woman she is: that she lives a sinful life (according to the gossip in that town)." Knowing his thoughts, Jesus called over to him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "What is it, teacher?" he asked.

Jesus said, "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender: one owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so the lender cancelled the debts of both. Now which one of them will love him more?" Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled."

"You've judged correctly," Jesus said. "He who has been forgiven little, loves little." Then he turned toward Mary and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came to your house and you didn't offer me water to wash my feet, but she wet them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn't give me a kiss of welcome, but this woman has kissed my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her sins have been forgiven, for she has shown me much love." And Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven; your faith has saved you. Go in peace."

The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even presumes to forgive sin?" But then Mary took the jar she had brought with her and broke it open, and she poured the contents on Jesus' head. It was about a pint of pure nard, a very expensive perfume, and the house was filled with its fragrance.

When some of those present saw this, they asked one another indignantly: "Why this waste of perfume?" and they rebuked her sharply. Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering her? When I came here, you didn't bother to put oil on my head, but this woman has poured rich perfume on me. Leave her alone! She's done a beautiful thing to me."

But one of Jesus' own disciples, Judas Iscariot, objected: "This perfume could have been sold at a high price, and the money given to the poor. It was worth more than a year's pay!" Jesus replied, "You'll always have the poor among you, and you can help them any time you want. But you won't always have me. This perfume was intended for my burial. And when this woman poured it on my body beforehand, she did it to prepare me for it. She did what she could. And I tell you the truth, wherever my Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.

Mt 26:6-13
Mk 14:3-9
Jn 12:1-11

Jerusalem in View

The next day they came to Bethphage, a village on the hill called the Mount of Olives. As they approached, they saw Jerusalem laid out below them. Just opposite was the temple, adorned with beautiful stones and glistening in the sunlight. Some of his disciples were remarking about how beautiful it all was, and one of them came up to Jesus to call his attention to its buildings. He said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"

But Jesus said, "Do you see all these things here? The time will come when every one of them will be thrown down! And as for these great buildings, I tell you the truth: not one stone will be left on another! For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. For three and a half years, Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles. There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and be taken as prisoners to all the nations. And I tell you the truth: this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.

"So when you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those in the city get out, and those in the country not enter. Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one in the field go back to his house for anything. Let no one, even if he's on the roof of his house with his goods just inside, enter to take anything out: not even his cloak. Just pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath, and that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen. And remember Lot's wife! Don't even stop to look back."

Then Jesus sat and wept over the city, saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you! Upon you will come the righteous blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world: from the blood of Abel to that of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Yes, I tell you, this generation will pay for it all! How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Now you will see your house left to you desolate. For I tell you, the time will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and hem you in on every side.

"How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers, for they will dash you to the ground; you and the children within you. If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace! But now, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you, it is hidden from your eyes. You will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. And you will not see me again until the days of the Gentiles are fulfilled and the whole world says, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'!"

Mt 21:1a
24:1b-3a, 16-20, and 34
Mk 11:1a, 13:1b-3a, 14b-18, and 30
Lk 13:34-35
19:29a, and 41-44
21:5-6, 20-24, and 32
Jn 12:12a
Rv 11:2b

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The Holy Bible, New International Version © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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