Prince of Peace: From the Cradle to the Crown and Beyond
Jesus’ Last Months on Earth, Part 1
The past 3 days we have been studying Jesus’ model of prayer (Mt. 6: 1-15; Luke 11: 1-4). In yesterday’s post, Part 3 (Wed., Apr. 5th, Lent, Day 36) we considered the possibility that Jesus provided a template for prayer versus a prayer to memorize and recite (Mt. 6:7-8). We also noticed that Jesus said we should ‘pray like this’ (vs. 9) and not, ‘repeat after Me.” Finally, brief we briefly contemplated the elements that should be included in our prayers via exploring The Lord’s Prayer line-by-line. Now we turn our attention to Jesus’ final months on earth.
Fans of TV crime shows know that, in addition to processing crime scenes for clues, it is a common practice to trace the missing or deceased person’s steps in the week or weeks preceding their disappearance or demise. “Holy Week” focuses on Jesus’ final days , from Palm Sunday to Hisresurrection. However, for the 3 days before Palm Sunday, including today, let’s investigate what Jesus was doing in the final months before His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. To do this, we need to understand that Matthew, Mark, and Luke record similar accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry and are referred to as the ‘Synoptic Gospels’, because they are written from similar perspectives. Therefore, I propose that we look at the time period leading up to Palm Sunday in terms of: Perseverance, Preparation, and Presentation, beginning with “Perseverance”.
If we were detectives living in Jesus’ ministry days, we could interview His friends and associates, do a door-to-door canvas, look for clues in the various towns He visited, make some deductions, propose a hypothesis, and draw our own conclusions about what Jesus did in His final weeks and months. Nonetheless, we still have invaluable tools at our fingertips, such as the Gospel accounts and the research of biblical scholars via the Internet. Gordon Smith has thoughtfully prepared a concise timeline, complete with maps, of Jesus’ Ministry, “Summary of Jesus’ Travels and Acts”, and including His final months:
<<THE LAST FEW MONTHS - c AD30
Jesus withdraws to Bethany-across-the-Jordan (or Bethabara), and into the province of Perea, and stays for a while (Jn 10:40)
Following the death of Lazarus, Jesus returns to Bethany near Jerusalem, and raises him (Lazarus) from the dead (Jn 11:1).
Because of threats to his life, Jesus withdraws to Ephraim to the north of Jerusalem (Jn 11:54)
HIS MINISTRY IN PEREA (MODERN JORDAN)
He then crosses the River Jordan and works in Perea (Mt 19:1; Mk 10:1).
There he blesses the little children (Mt 19:13, Mk 10:13; Lk 18:15) and speaks to the rich young man (Mt 19:16; Mk 10:17; Lk 18:18) >>
We can conclude that Jesus demonstrated great Perseverance as His three-year ministry was nearing its end. There is no indication that Jesus slowed down to take a break before His harrowing final days. Smith’s timeline of Jesus’ last few months, also notes that when there were threats on Jesus’ life, He withdrew from his would-be assassins and went elsewhere to minister (Jn. 10:22-42; 11: 45-54), because it was not His appointed time to die. He would not allow satan to thwart God’s plan of salvation for the world.
Blessings & Peace
Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk
Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor)