Readings

  • Matthew 26:1-19
  • Luke 22:1-13
  • John 12:4-6

Prayer

Pray… for a heart like Mary (who worshipped Jesus) rather than Judas (who worshipped money).

Day 304 – Jesus’ Passover Prep

Judas’ greed & betrayal, Mary’s anointing, & the furnished room

 

  • In today’s passages we read that Passover was coming. Do you remember the reasons why the Jews celebrated the Passover? Don’t worry if not – we’ll read Exodus 12 as part of the next set of readings, when we look more closely at the event.
  • Who led the plot to have Jesus killed in Matthew 26:14-16? Can you remember the last time we met him? Jesus knew of the plot – what reasons do you think he had for sharing it with His disciples?
  • Look at the story of the woman in the earlier verses in Matthew’s passage (who, by the way, was Mary, Martha’s sister), who poured the expensive oil on Jesus, and then look at the story of Judas betraying Jesus for 30 silver coins. You should be able to spot the clear distinction between the two. What is it?
  • The words in John that we read today are helpful and interesting. It shows that it was Judas himself who complained about the “waste” of the perfume. Do you think Judas really cared about the poor? If not, what reasons do you think Judas had for being so annoyed at the way the perfume was used? Does the fact that you know Judas as someone who stole from the money bag change things?
  • What was Mary showing by pouring the expensive perfume on Jesus? Why did Jesus allow it? Do you think Judas had a point?
  • Money can be a powerful idol. Just think about this situation – Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples, and saw much of what Jesus did. Even still, he was willing to betray Jesus for money. Is this a warning to you?
  • How do you think Judas would have been feeling about what he had agreed with the Pharisees? Would it have been on his mind? Do you think he would have felt guilt?
  • Why do you think Jesus went to a house He hadn’t been to before to celebrate Passover with His disciples? What do you think He might have been concerned about?

 

Judas’ greed today starts in motion a series of events which will, as I’m sure you know, lead to Jesus’ arrest. It was an evil action by a man who knew Jesus but was blinded by worldly riches.

 

That, of course, is even more acutely displayed next to the story of Mary. You could put a mirror between the two stories, that’s how different they are. Mary considered the riches of the world as nothing in comparison to giving glory to Jesus, and know what Jesus meant for her eternal future.

 

Matthew didn’t put these two stories together by accident! They play off each other to highlight the beauty of Mary’s act and the wickedness of Judas’ act.

 

Of course, God, in His sovereignty, used Judas and his actions to bring about the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is the most amazing moment in human history. This doesn’t mean Judas was right though. God can bring goodness despite man’s evil. That doesn’t make Judas’ actions good!

Readings

  • Mark 12:38-44
  • Luke 21
  • 2 Corinthians 8:1-12

Prayer

Pray… for strength during the difficult times we go through, and for joy when we see the reasons for our suffering.

Day 303 – Jesus’ Ministry Before His Betrayal

The widow’s mite, End Times Prophecy, & giving

 

  • Mark 12:38-40 gives us a reminder of the stinging condemnation of the Pharisees that we read about yesterday. How have the words you studied yesterday made you think in the last 24 hours?
  • What are your thoughts about the widow’s offering in Mark 12:41-44? Why was her gift considered greater, even though other people had put in much more money?
  • The widow gave all that she had. In doing so she was indicating that she had complete dependence on God. How was her heart different from those who argue about what is “proper” amount to give was?
  • The words of Paul in  our third passage, 2 Corinthians, build on this willingness to give. Our giving should come out of our understanding of the gospel. Jesus didn’t just give 10% of what he had, did he? He gave all of himself. You might want to underline verse 9. You might be too young to give much financially, but what could you give generously instead?
  • Luke 21 may have confused you a little, and probably reminded you of the time we studied Matthew 24 (which we read when we studied the book of Daniel). Try reading it in chunks. It’s all about future events, with a focus on the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. It details suffering and difficult events. What does Jesus prophecy in verses 5-9, and in verses 20-24? These local events did indeed occur – do you know when? Look them up if not!
  • Luke 21:25 onwards talk of Jesus’ return – His second coming. The details are brief, but what will it be like, according to these words? What are the warnings in verses 34-36? How can we follow this advice in a practical way?
  • Jesus’ predictions about specific and general events of the future are interesting to read, but don’t spend too much time speculating what they all mean in a literal sense. We shouldn’t second-guess God. What is crucial, however, if that you are alert to God’s mission, and that you are prepared for the challenges that will come, and that you will continue to trust in God’ power to overcome all evil.
  • Luke 21 is similar to Mark 13 (as well as Matthew 24), and it’s not impossible that Luke based some of his account on the words of Mark. Luke added his own content too though, through the sources of information that he had, including verses 12, 15, 18 20-22 and 28. You may, if you find it interesting, like to do a study on the extra information Luke found to include.

 

 

The focus that the One Story reading plan picks up today isn’t that of the end-times prophecy of Jesus, even though we read quite a bit about that in Luke. Instead, it’s the focus on generous giving, building upon the story of the widow. This is what Paul’s words in his second letter to the church at Corinth (passage three today) encouraged.

 

I’ve already mentioned 2 Corinthians 8:9, but it is such a wonderful line of truth that it bears reading again. Think about what each bit means. Christ, with all of Heaven’s riches, became “poor” for us. He chose humility. He sacrificed the “good life”. In doing so, he gave us, His followers, all the riches of Heaven and the status of being part of God’s family. This grace, once fully appreciated, should challenge our hearts to be equally generous.

 

Generosity doesn’t always involve money. You might not have huge amounts. How can you be generous – outrageously generous, perhaps – in other ways? What’s stopping you from being so?

Readings

  • Matthew 23
  • Micah 6:8
  • James 1:22-27

Prayer

Pray… for continued wisdom to not act like the Pharisees do in today’s passages, and to seek to love Jesus above all things.

Day 302 – Jesus’ Message on Religion

Appearing religious vs. exercising justice, mercy, & faith

 

  • Wow! I wonder if today’s passage in Matthew 23 floored you like it did to me. What a contrast to yesterday’s patient answers to the answers of the religious leaders. Today, Jesus gave them both barrels. They must have been wondering what hit them!
  • Why do you think Matthew chose to include Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees in his book?
  • In the first three verses, Jesus initially promoted the position of “teacher” (or “rabbi”) as one that should command respect. Why did He do this before going on to attack them?
  • In what ways did Jesus criticise the Pharisees? Consider verses 4, 5-7, 12, 13-14, 16, 23, 25-27 and 35. This will take time, so take that time. Make sure you think about the different ways in which Jesus dismantled the proud hypocrisy of the religious leaders. Write down some of your thoughts in your journal.
  • The Pharisees were in a position of high power, and therefore were capable, whether they realised it or not, of doing great damage with their actions. They knew the scriptures, but were blind to their hard-heartedness toward God, and were leading other people along the same dangerous path. To the people, the religious leaders appeared devoted to God and worthy of respect, but they were motivated by position, power and greed. Their hypocrisy disgusted Jesus.
  • A good example to focus on would be Matthew 23:23, and the hyperbole in verse 24. How did the Pharisees observe the specifics of the Law (not a bad thing in itself) whilst acting in an unloving and hypocritical manner?
  • James, in the wonderfully practical words of his book, built on these thought. What is his point?
  • We can all be hypocrites, like the Pharisees, and today’s passage in Matthew might be unsettling. It should challenge you, but not worry you. Instead, challenge yourself to act like the character presented in today’s verse in Micah. How did he/she act?

 

Don’t make the mistake of cheering Jesus’ words against the Pharisees without considering whether they need to be said to you. Imagine Jesus was speaking these words in church to you. Look through the list of things Jesus charged the Pharisses with in Matthew 23. Do some apply to you?

 

Have you heard the phrase “practise what you preach”? It’s so important. We claim to know and love Christ – so we should do it, with out whole hearts.

 

Today’s passage warns us about being a sham Christian! Don’t think you’re alone if you felt challenged today – we all will, every single person reading these notes. The message is clear – don’t do all the “stuff” of Christianity without having Christ at the centre of it. Spend some time in prayer today about this if you need to.

Readings

  • Matthew 22
  • Romans 13:1-7
  • Psalm 110:1

Prayer

Pray… that your questions would be ones that seek to understand the gospel more deeply, and that you would have grace and wisdom to answer questions that may be intended to trip you up.

Day 301 – Jesus’ Debates with Religious Leaders

Debating the Pharisees, Sadducees, & a lawyer

 

  • Today’s readings follow directly from those we looked at yesterday, so you might want to read over the last section of Matthew 21 to refresh your memory of them. Today, Jesus continued to debate with, and answer the searching questions of, various groups of people, including the Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees.
  • Before we look at some of the questions posed to Jesus, look at the story in the first 14 verses of Matthew 22. We’ve read a similar story before. If you consider the king to be God, and the wedding banquet as one held for Jesus, who are the guests (both those who were invited, and those who later came)?
  • What happened to the person who wasn’t wearing the special wedding clothes?
  • This passage about the man who was thrown out might need some further thought. It happened, from time to time, that guests might have been given specific wedding clothes (or expected to provide his own). This man hadn’t accepted the wedding clothes from the king (or refused to provide them himself), but still expected to be at the party. What do you think this is referring to? What sad end is described for this man? I’ll mention this a bit more in my final notes.
  • The passages about the taxes and marriage show Jesus talking with the religious leaders. Do you think in each case the leaders wanted to have genuine answers to their questions, or were they just intended to trip Jesus up? Have your friends ever asked you questions like this?
  • Use your study bible, if you have one, to work out why Jesus’ answer in Matthew 22:21 was a wise one.
  • Jesus’ astonishing interpretation of the Scriptures continued in the discussion about marriage in Heaven. What was the question? Do you think it was a good one? How did Jesus respond?
  • By the time Matthew 22 ends, what had the people decided to stop doing? I smiled when I read it!
  • The Romans passage links in with Jesus’ teaching on taxes. “Romans” was a letter written by the apostle Paul. What was he saying about how Christians should live within the laws of the country? Why is this important? What should we, as Christians, do if a law goes against the teaching of the Bible?

 

This set of passages talk about authority in a number of ways. They talk about earthly authority in regards to God and Caesar. Jesus’ authority to say the things He was saying was also being challenged. Today we saw Him calmly answering the questions posed with wisdom and patience. Tomorrow, in day 302, we’ll see Jesus interacting with the teachers in a much more robust way, as He challenged them to give up their false religious ways.

 

Today we also read a potentially confusing passage about a man who was invited to a wedding. He wasn’t in the first set of guests; in fact, it seems he just got lucky and was in the town at the time the king’s servants came looking for guests. He – and many others – took the chance to turn up at the palace for a good old-fashioned party!

 

But after being found to be without the appropriate clothes, he was thrown outside into a scary darkness of night. Doesn’t this king sound like a bit of a pompous oddball?

 

Well – no. The man who was thrown out was just as bad as the people who reacted with such hostility to the initial invitation in Matthe 22:5-7, and justly received the same judgement.

 

The story refers to God’s family. Many people openly reject God’s good invitation, like the first people in the story. They want nothing to do with God. But there are some who find themselves at church and involved in the “wedding” events, like the second batch of guests, and, like the man in the story, not all are wearing the “wedding clothes”. In other words, they don’t really have any transformation of the heart towards Jesus. They may be at church for the social calendar there, or perhaps to meet like-minded people, or because they’re involved with some sort of job, or church outreach. People can be part of a church in many ways without loving Jesus.

 

This lack of repentance and faith is what Jesus was challenging in the parable. It’s tough teaching, and you – like I – should examine our hearts regarding our church attendance, always coming with a heart that seeks primarily to come closer to God.

Readings

  • Matthew 21
  • Psalm 118:19-29
  • Zechariah 9:9

Prayer

Pray… a prayer of thankfulness to God for His goodness to you over the past 300 days, and for all you have learned.

Day 300 – Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

Entering Jerusalem, cleansing the temple, & cursing the fig tree

Our final milestone! There’s plenty still to read though – so let’s keep going strongly and enjoy the final 65 days. Great work!

 

  • Congratulations on hitting this exciting day. It’s a fitting passage to be looking at too, as in it we see Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the final time in an event often referred to as the Triumphal Entry. Today’s passage marks the start of the final week before His death (so imagine that being in the back of Jesus’ mind throughout everything that happens). There is plenty to read and discuss before we come to the cross though!
  • Why did Jesus chose to ride in on a donkey? What sort of things was He communicating by doing so? What reason does Matthew give for Jesus’ choice?
  • What did the crowds shout? Do you know what the word “Hosanna” means? Was Jesus popular?
  • What was Jesus’ first act after arriving in? What things did he do that caused the indignation of the chief priests?
  • The story of Jesus cursing the fig tree may have surprised you. You may think how it was an image of “judgement” (and of course we read a similar story earlier in our readings). That aside, what was Jesus teaching about the power of prayer? Do you think that this power is a result of the qualities of the person praying, or the strength of God?
  • Matthew 21 has many different sections, but they have common themes. Look at the different stories and parables, especially verses 14-16, 23-27, 31 and 45-46. Who was Jesus challenging in all these sections, whether openly or through parable?
  • As Jesus entered Jerusalem in humility, the big question that Jesus challenged people with was this: “who will enter the kingdom of God?”. Based on the parables, would you suggest it was the “outwardly good”, the legalistic rulers of Israel, or the sinners who responded to Jesus’ message with repentance in their hearts? We need to take this seriously. Our salvation is not based on our parents’ faith or our outward actions (such as going to church or even doing this reading plan). Salvation comes through a personal response to Jesus, trusting that His substitutionary death on the cross is the only way we can be made right with God. Have you done that? Do you live with this truth in your heart?
  • Finish by reading the passage in Psalm 118 again. What great words of praise they are. I bet you know some of them already. Enjoy thanking and praising God, on this special day in our reading plan, for all that He has given to you.

 

 

As we enter the last couple of miles of our One Story marathon, Jesus is travelling too. As He entered the city, He knew His time was soon to come.

 

Jesus is God, but Jesus was fully human, with all the worries and fears and understanding of pain that humans have. Can you imagine what must have been going through His mind as He trotted in on the donkey? As He saw the cheering crowds, He knew that the same crowds would soon be baying for His blood. As He saw the teachers of the law, He knew He would soon see them again, shackled by guards and chains. As He saw His disciples, He saw men who would sell Him to His death for blood money, and scatter to the hills as persecution came.

 

Around Him He would have seen people who would act to harm Him or turn away from Him, and it was for exactly these people that He – God in human form – was coming to die a painful death to rescue.

 

Can you imagine it?

Readings

  • Luke 19:1-27
  • Matthew 25:14-30
  • Mark 10:46-52

Prayer

Pray… that you will use the gifts God has given you (whether that’s music, or intelligence, or encouragement, or teaching, or whatever!) to help God’s kingdom to grow on earth.

Day 299 – Jesus’ Ministry in Jericho

Zacchaeus, the parable of the talents, & healing the blind

 

  • As we join Jesus again today, notice that we’re catching up with Him in Jericho. Have you seen how much He moves around? He walked a long way! I mentioned this a little earlier, but you might want to check the map again. What other famous stories have we had take place at Jericho over this year’s readings?
  • Zacchaeus, the man who climbed a tree to see Jesus, is a well known story which I heard many times at Junior Church, but very rarely in church itself when I was older. As I read it, I thought about the grumbling of the people and it reminded me of the words we read a few days ago with the grumbling labourers. Jesus’ teachings are often easy to understand, but supremely challenging. What was the challenge in the story of Zacchaeus?
  • How hated do you think Zacchaeus was? Do you think all his money would have made up for his lack of friends?
  • Why did the people around complain that Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house? Did Jesus approve of Zacchaeus, do you think? If not, why did He go? What transformation took place in that house that day, leading Jesus to say that Zacchaeus was now a true “son of Abraham”?
  • The parable of the ten minas (Luke) and the similar parable of the talents (Matthew) might have confused you. Let’s take a look together, and I’ll use the version in Luke for the purposes of these notes. Ten minas was about 3 months’ wages for an ordinary man. Imagine you were one of the servants who had been given this money, with the challenge to “engage in business” with it – i.e. to use the money to make more money. What would you do?
  • Why do you think the nobleman, who was soon to become a king, gave his servants this challenge? Was it to make him some money, or to find out something about his servants’ attitudes?
  • When the nobleman returned as a powerful king, what did the different servants have to show him? Why do you think the servant who misused the money didn’t even receive anything? Was it fair to give the “city” to the one who had already been given ten?
  • Consider the meaning of the parable. The nobleman is Jesus, and the servants are us. We have been given good gifts, like the money the servants had. How well are you using your gifts to bring glory to Jesus… or are you hiding your gifts like the buried money? What does the Bible say about how those who use their gifts and time well will be rewarded? How does Luke 19:26 sum our eternal destinies?

 

 

If you’re up for thinking more deeply, consider Luke 19:12, 14 and 27. Where is the far country of verse 12? Think along the lines of Jesus’ “return” being His second coming. How does verse 14 link in with the way Jesus was treated by the Jews? Verse 27 might lead you to think about the final judgement of those who reject Jesus. How do Jesus’ words make you feel?

 

In Jericho, Jesus healed people (such as the blind man we read about in our third reading today), showed how sinners could receive grace through repentance (Zacchaeus) and taught the people the value of using their gifts from God well during the long wait for the “second coming” (the parable). He would have really been causing a stir. Just imagine what the buzz of the city would have been abou!

 

All that buzz, of course, was causing more and more resentment and anger within the community of people who didn’t want to hear Jesus’ challenging messages. Tomorrow – day 300 – we’ll read about His entry into Jerusalem and the start of the final week before His death. This week we’ll see His most forceful critiques on empty religious attitudes and the angry reaction which ultimately brought His death, which we’ll read about in two weeks’ time. These world-transforming passages form the bedrock of our firm hope and salvation, so read and study well!

 Readings

  • None… unless you need to catch up!

Prayer

Pray… for something that is on your mind today.

Day 298 – Day Off

 

 

Hope you’re enjoying the start of half term and that you’ve got lots of lovely plans to spend all the lovely free time you now have!

 

I hope that that will include a chance to catch up if you need to.

 

I’m writing these words whilst on holiday in Wales, and it’s beatiful here. I think I’d rather be here than in that hammock in the picture above! Whatever you have planned for your holiday, I hope you enjoy it very much.

Readings

  • Matthew 20:1-28
  • Mark 10:31-45
  • Luke 18:31-34

Prayer

Pray… for chances to serve others.

Day 297 – Jesus’ Final Trip to Jerusalem

The parable of the labourers & the right hand of Jesus

 

  • I would be interested to know what your first reaction was when you read the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Let’s consider the story as Jesus told it first. How much did the the initial workers agree their wages should be before working?
  • The first workers started at 6:00am. The third hour was 9:00am, the sixth hour was 12:00pm, and so on. The last few – the ones starting at the eleventh hour – started at 5:00pm. Have you heard the phrase “the eleventh hour”? It means to start doing something at the last possible moment.
  • What was the complaint from the men who had worked the longest? Do you think that their complaints were fair? What do you think they wanted – to get more, or the others get less?
  • Imagine that the generosity shown by the landowner was like the generosity of God. Imagine you had “worked for God” all your life, and come to eternal life – and another person didn’t accept Christ until their old age, but received exactly the same. Would you resent that gift of grace that the other person received? How can you change your thinking, if so? If not, what is different between this and the parable?
  • James and John (and their mother, as Matthew points out) ask what of Jesus? What was wrong with this?
  • What was the reaction of the other disciples to brothers’ request, and how did Jesus calm them?
  • If you desire to be first, what should you do? How is this different from what our society teaches?

 

Questions such as those from James and John, and attitudes like those of the complaining workers in the parable, come from a heart that hasn’t been utterly transformed for God. Unless the wonderful news of God’s grace in your life fills your heart to bursting, there will be room for idolising something beyond God – yourself. Self-idolisation leads to the sort of thinking that James and John had, and the ungrateful attitudes of the servants. Instead, be willing to be made low, and to lead by serving others, and you will receive your blessings in due time.

 

This is something I continue to need to learn personally. So often I like to be at the front, making the joke or being the person people look up to. But I look at people at church who don’t push themselves forward. I have a great deal of respect for the way they quietly conduct themselves, letting other people – and God, often – take the glory themselves.

 

I hope you, too, can enjoy the blessings of seeing others being lifted up, either in a small day-to-day way, or perhaps even in seeing someone come to faith, regardless of their past.

Readings

  • Matthew 19
  • Mark 10:1-30
  • Luke 18:15-30

Prayer

Pray… that in your heart you will want to honour God in all ways – not just in wordly obedience.

Day 296 – Jesus’ Ministry across the Jordan

 marriage, the rich young ruler, & sacrifices for God

 

  • We’re back to reading about the same events in multiple different gospels. I’ll focus on the words in Matthew, but spend a moment considering the similarities and differences between the three different accounts of the rich man. Because this story is repeated so often, should we pay extra special attention to it?
  • The readings in Matthew and Mark today start with Jesus’ teaching on divorce. At the time, there was conflicting opinion on this subject. Old Testament teaching from Moses (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) had permitted it for “indecency”, but some thought that that meant “only adultery”, and others thought that a man could divorce his wife for something as minor as burning food! What did does Jesus say about divorce, and God’s greater plan for marriage? How do you think Jesus challenged the legalistic hearts of the Pharisees, who seemed to be more interested in the technicalities of divorce, rather than the sinful attitudes that led to it?
  • What do you think about marriage?
  • In the story of the rich young man (or ruler, in Luke) we see someone coming to Jesus. Based on their initial conversation, would you imagine that this man was confident expecting to go to Hevaen, and have eternal salvation? What clues are there for this?
  • What initially strikes you as not right about the man’s question in verse 16 of Matthew 19?
  • Jesus listed an interesting selection of commandments in Matthew 19:18-19. He missed off the first ones about honouring God, and instead listed the ones about relationships with other people… except one. Which one did Jesus miss? Why do you think He listed the commandments regarding other people?
  • How wass the rich man challenged? Did he have a legalistic understanding of salvation, or a genuine devotion to God? How had his “coveting” (i.e. accumlation) of money meant that he had failed to keep all the commandments that Jesus missed off in his list?
  • Why is it “easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of the needle than enter the kingdom of God”? What was Jesus’ point? Think about all the instances in the gospels that you know about where money (or the promise of it) has led to evil. Why, therefore, do you think it’s such a good habit to get used to giving money away, joyfully and freely?

 

Jesus’ words are as easy to understand, and yet as hard to live out, now as they ever were. Do you think there will ever be a moment in the history of mankind where people won’t have their hearts challenged by this parable on letting go of earthly riches to enjoy heavenly riches?

 

We often think that we have many rights – rights to good standards of living, comfortable jobs, clean air, friends to treat us right, money to enjoy, and so on. If we don’t have these – and more – we feel like demanding them, or consider that we’re missing out by not having them. But money can be as much of a trapping as it is an enjoyment. The old phrase that “money doesn’t buy happiness” is true for good reason.

 

Jesus, however, calls us to give up our rights – and perhaps our material luxuries, or anything else that stands between us and him – just like He did when He came to earth for us.

 

Of all the parables Jesus gave, I think this one hits the hardest. Just what would you be prepared to give up to follow Jesus? Could you see yourself acting in any other way than the young man in the story did?

 

As you consider that, you might remember the famous words of evangelical missionary Jim Elliot. Jim died when attacked by a group of people in Ecuador whom he visited to share the gospel. In his diary entry for October 28, 1949, he talked of his realisation that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his own life, with the words “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, in order to gain that which he cannot lose.” Luke 9:24-25 links most closely with these words, but Matthew 19:29 echoes it too with Jesus’ reference to eternal life; something our earthly riches could never earn for us.

Readings

  • John 11
  • John 12:9-11
  • Romans 8:9-11

Prayer

Pray… in thankfulness that Jesus has the power over death – and that in him we too will rise to eternal life.

Day 295 – Jesus’ Raising of Lazarus

Jesus raises Lazarus & the Pharisees plot Jesus’ death

Note – the “Lazarus” in today’s passage isn’t the same on as the one from day 293.

 

  • John took the time to explain the background to the death and rising of Lazarus, in comparison to the other stories he recounted of Jesus’ miracles, which were told at a more speedy pace. Who was Lazarus? Who were his sisters, and do you remember what happened when Jesus last met them on day 281?
  • In John 11:11-15, Jesus proclaimed that Lazarus had died. Look back at verse 6. Jesus had heard that Lazarus was ill but had decided to wait two days before heading off to see him. Why do you think He waited? Consider that Jesus knew Mary and Martha especially well.
  • When Jesus spoke to Mary and Martha in John 11:17-37, what do we learn about the women? Did they trust Jesus? Imagine you were in their shoes. What conflicting emotions would you have had, knowing that Jesus “could have” saved their brother but (seemingly) had chosen not to? You might like to underline Jesus’ famous words of John 11:25.
  • Lazarus was described as being dead for four days. Some people at the time thought that the soul of a dead man could remain for up to three days. In other words, by the fourth day, everyone would have been in agreement that Lazarus was properly dead.
  • Jesus is described as weeping as He surveyed the scene. Are you surprised by this?
  • How did Jesus raise Lazarus? What power there is in His words! Just think… one day we will hear Jesus’ voice. Are you looking forward to that?
  • What was the mixed response of the Pharisees to Jesus’ miracle? What were they scared of? What did they decide to do?
  • Check out John 11:48-52. I love these verses. Caiaphas, the angry high priest, suggested that they should kill Jesus in order to save many other potential deaths. His logic was that if too many people believe in Jesus, the Romans would have taken issue with this, and started beating the Jews down to keep control. Caiaphas thought that it would be better to have one death (Jesus’) than many deaths. Do you see the wonderful, and unintended, irony in his words? Through the actions of the Jewish leaders in putting Jesus to death, he would indeed save many, many lives… but not in the way that they could have ever foreseen!
  • In Mark 12, we hear of the Pharisee’s astonishing plot to kill Lazarus. With the facts of Jesus’ power staring them in the face, the leaders ignored the truth and tried to cover up Jesus’ work in extreme fashion. How do you see Jesus’ words being “covered up” nowadays?

 

Fun fact: verse 35 of John 11 is the shortest verse in the bible. Can you research which the longest is?

 

As we work our way through the gospels, you should be spotting not just the stories of each chapter, full of rich teaching and actions from Jesus, but also the underlying story of Jesus slowly moving towards His eventual outcome. The regular references to the Pharisees, and their angry reactions to Jesus, show how this is starting to bubble up. It won’t be long – next week in fact, in our reading plan – before we hit the final days of Jesus’ life. I can’t wait to read this with you, because it takes us through the biggest event the world has ever known!

 

Another thing worth being aware of is how Jesus has moved around Israel. He’s currently in Bethany, and the map below shows a rough path that he has taken. In our upcoming readings (before He entered Jerusalem for the final week before His death) he’ll do both of the “loops” you can see (to Bathabara, and the other one to Ephraim and Jericho).

 

You can find more information about the timeline of Jesus’ ministry at http://www.biblewalks.com/info/jesusfootsteps.html – we’re at position 85 in the 100-step table on this website.