Last Nine Months of Jesus’ Public Ministry


We begin this narrative with the significant events affecting the timeline leading to Jesus’ death. It is extremely difficult to put a chronological timeline on these events.

At the beginning of Jesus’ last year, except for a short period in the last six months of His ministry, He limited His visits to Jerusalem because of the hostility of the Jewish leaders who seemed to agitate Him continually.

During these last nine months, He began transitioning the focus of His ministry by spending more time training His disciples. He continued to work out of His home base in Galilee for the first few months.

At the beginning of His ministry, He was more open about His identity. He even told His early disciples and the woman at the well in Samaria that He was the Messiah. But, soon after, He seemed to downplay His identity for fear of accelerating the hostility of the Jewish leaders.

We will begin our walk to the cross as Jesus engages the Jewish leaders and the escalation level of hostility increases.

Caesarea Philippi

Sometime between six to nine months before His crucifixion, Jesus and His disciples took a trip to upper Galilee, which was located at the foothills of Mount Herman where the rushing, cascading headwaters of the Jordan River flow. The place was Caesarea Philippi where they spent some time resting and perhaps having a retreat.

Jesus asked His disciples a question. “Who do people say the Son of Man is? They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets’” (Matt 16:13-14, NIV).

“‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’” (Matt. 16:15-16, NIV).

“Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock [petras] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will bebound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah” (Matt. 16:17-20, NIV).

For the first time in Biblical prophecy, Jesus has revealed God’s plan for His church – a mystery hidden in Old Testament revelation. It will be built on a big rock, “Petras,” who is Jesus, and not on Peter, “Petros,” a little stone, as some church leaders have declared (both Greek words have been translated as “rock”). Petras means an immovable foundation – the rock of ages.

Jesus moves on with His new revelation. From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matt. 16:21, NIV).

This was shocking news to His disciples. Their mindset was that the Messiah was the son of David and had come to set up an earthly kingdom; they thought they would be part of the inner circle. Unfortunately, they misunderstood what was about to happen.

Peter quickly responded,Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’” (Matt. 16:22-23, NIV).

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done’” (Matt. 16:24-27, NIV).


The next event on Matthew’s timeline is “The Transfiguration.” Matthew’s gospel says, After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves” (Matt. 17:1, NIV).

Catholic tradition says that the Transfiguration occurred on Mount Tabor in lower Galilee. However, some New Testament scholars believe that Jesus, Peter, James, and John may have gone to the top of Mount Herman while the other disciples remained at the foothills.

We will quote the narrative from Luke’s gospel as it provides more details, even though it appears out of chronological sequence.

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying)” (Luke 9:29-33, NIV).

Peter is stunned as the full glory of Jesus is displayed before him. He was very close to this man, a friend and daily companion; now, he sees Jesus as God, the second person of the Trinity. He suddenly realizes that He is standing on Holy Ground and does not know what to say; he did what he often did; as we sometimes say, he put his foot in his mouth.

While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’ When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen” (Luke 9:34-36, NIV).

This is the second time that God the Father has confirmed the credentials of Jesus. At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, came and alighted on Him. Then God the Father spoke from heaven. We read from the book of Matthew, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17b, NIV).

Matthew also says that on the way down the mountain, Jesus told His disciples that they were not to tell anyone what they had seen. “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (Matt. 17:9).

Sometime after this heavenly experience, the group returned to lower Galilee, probably Capernaum.

Feast of Tabernacles

The fall Feast of Tabernacles was approaching. This was probably approximately six months before the death of Jesus which occurred at the next Passover. All Jewish men were required to attend the celebration in Jerusalem. Apparently, Jesus’ brothers approached Him and asked if He planned to participate in the celebration.

Only the apostle John gives us this narrative. “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not wantto go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:1-5, NIV).  So, it seems that His brothers are mocking Him.

“Therefore, Jesus told them, ‘My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am notgoing up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.’ After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee” (John 7:6-9, NIV).  

Notice the timeline, God the Father is orchestrating the events throughout the timeline. He is carefully controlling the hostility level of the Jewish leaders and is about to increase it. However, He has to keep it under control until the next Passover which will be in the spring. They are on a divine schedule. Jesus tells His brothers, “My time has not yet fully come.”

Apparently, He changed His mind. “However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival, the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, ‘Where is he?’ Among the crowds, there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’ Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders” (John 7:10-13, NIV).

We know that His brothers went to the festival but we have to speculate about whether His disciples went or not.

The late Dr. J. Vernon McGee believed that Jesus entered the temple area through the sheep gate. This is the gate where sacrificial animals were brought into the temple area. He could have slipped in without anyone observing Him.

Suddenly He appears in the temple area and begins teaching. “Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews there were amazed and asked, ‘How did this man get such learning without having been taught?’ Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me’” (John 7:14-19, NIV)?

“At that point, some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, ‘Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from’” (John 7:25-27, NIV).

Just like the feast of Passover and Pentecost, perhaps over a million people are in town. They would be camped all over Jerusalem, across the valley, and on the Mount of Olives. Many are from other areas and know little about the teaching of Jesus. This was an opportunity for them to get to know Him. Many are wondering if He could be the Messiah.

“Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, ‘Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.’ At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man’” (John 7:28-31, NIV)?

“The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come’” (John 7:32-34, NIV).

“The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’’” (John 7:35-36, NIV)?

Each day of the feast, there was the pouring out of water ceremony. According to the Talmud, this feast is the time of year when God judges the world for rainfall; therefore, this ceremony invokes God’s blessing for rain in its proper time. Water also symbolizes rebirth, starting anew, and spiritual cleansing.

“One reason the water libation ritual was so popular in Second Temple days was the accompanying ceremony of the water drawing, which took place at night when water was drawn from Siloam for the next morning’s water libation. Each day for seven consecutive days, a priest would walk up a ramp leading to the bronze altar located in the Temple Court and pour a jug full of water into a bowl that drained into the altar” (

The scene then moved to the last day of the feast, and it was on that day that they poured out a double portion of water in the temple.

“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:37:39, NIV).

“On hearing his words, some of the people said, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet.’  Others said, ‘He is the Messiah.’ Still others asked, ‘How can the Messiah come from Galilee?  Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?’ Thus, the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him” (John 7:40-44, NIV).

“Finally, the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’ ‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards replied. ‘You mean he has deceived you also?’ the Pharisees retorted. ‘Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them’” (John 7:45-47, NIV).

“Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, ‘Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?’ They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee’” (John 7:50-53, NIV).

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to spend the night as He often did when He was in Jerusalem. We don’t know if His disciples were with him or not. He remained in the area amid many debates and controversies.

Hostility in Jerusalem

Jesus remained in the Jerusalem area for approximately three months. While there, he taught and had dialogue with the Pharisees.

Then one day, Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, NIV). 

This is the second of the “I AM’s” spoken by Jesus and recorded in the Gospel of John. He claims to be the “I AM” who spoke to Moses at the burning bush. He is also the “Angel of the Lord,” who was God’s presence ministering to the tribe of Israel. See my discussion of this subject in my book: He Shall Reign Forever, on Amazon or my post on my website:, under the same title. He is saying here; I have existed from eternity.

The apostle John began his gospel by saying that Jesus is the light of the World. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world” (John 1:4,9 NIV).

You can imagine how the Pharisees scrutinized this statement that Jesus made. “The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid’” (John 8:13, NIV).

They are saying His statement was invalid because He did not have two witnesses, which their law required to prove a statement.

“Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me’” (John 8:14-18, NIV).

We have two mindsets going. The Pharisees think he is talking about His earthly father, whereas Jesus is talking about His heavenly father.

“Then they asked him, ‘Where is your father?’ ’You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 8:19-20, NIV).

Note: Jesus is the light of the world. Today, many who have an out-of-body experience meet Jesus, who appears to them as a very bright light. The twenty-first chapter of The Revelation says there will be no sun in the New Heaven as the light will come from the Father and Jesus.

We move on to the following encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees, where they will have a dispute over who Jesus was.

“Once more Jesus said to them, ‘I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.’ This made the Jews ask, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’’” (John 8:21-22, NIV).

“But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.’ ‘Who are you?’ they asked” (John 8:23-25, NIV).

At this point, there is great confusion and friction between Jesus and the Pharisees.  

They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father.  So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.’ Even as he spoke, many believed in him” (John 8:27-30), NIV).

Many believed Him. We are unsure whether they were Pharisees or just ordinary people who were standing nearby listening to the conversation.

When Jesus used the term “Son of Man,” He claimed to be the Jewish Messiah. The term “Son of Man” is prophetic; it is introduced to us in the seventh chapter of Daniel. 

“In my vision at night, I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom will never be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13-14, NIV).  The term “Ancient of Days” refers to the Heavenly Father.

The Pharisees should have known of this prophecy. However, the others standing nearby may not have known about this prophecy.

Let us continue with the dialogue recorded in the gospel of John. They are about to accuse Him of being demon possessed or crazy. Mentally, the Pharisees could not accept Him as being the Jewish Messiah.

 The Jews answered him, ‘Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed’” (John 8:48, NIV)?

 “‘I am not possessed by a demon,’ said Jesus, ‘but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death’” (John 8:49-51, NIV). The judge who is mentioned in this verse is the Father in heaven; He is about to be glorified through the death of His beloved Son.

 “At this they exclaimed, ‘Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. ‘Are you greater than our father, Abraham?  He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are’’” (John 8:52-53, NIV)?

“Jesus replied, ‘If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father, Abraham, rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad’” (John 8:54-56, NIV).

“‘You are not yet fifty years old,’ they said to him, ‘and you have seen Abraham!’ ‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds” (John 8:57-59, NIV). 

Jesus is speaking about three men who appeared to Abraham one day. Two of the three men were angels. The third was probably Jesus, the “Angel of the Lord” of the Old Testament; Jesus met with Abraham to announce the promised birth of his son, Isaac (Gen 18:10).

He also probably later restrained the hand of Abraham on Mount Moriah when Abraham raised his hand to slay Isaac when Isaac was a young man (Gen. 22:11-12).

Again, Jesus’ time had not yet come, and He slipped away from the Pharisees as their hostility level had increased significantly.

He and His disciple moved across the Jordan river to the area of Perea to continue the last three months of His ministry. There is no indication that He returned to Galilee. During this time, He ministered from city to city, healing the sick, restoring the sight to the blind, forgiving sins, and teaching His disciples.

The Resurrection of Lazarus 

The Bible says, It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27, NKJV). We are about to meet a man who died twice.

Jesus was ministering in the area of Perea with His disciples just a few weeks before the Passover when He received a message from His friends, Mary and Martha of Bethany. God is getting ready to glorify himself and Jesus; it would again raise the hostility level of the Jewish leaders.

We read from the eleventh chapter of John. “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha…So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick’” (John 11:1,3, NIV).

Jesus was very close to this family and had previously visited their home.  When the message was written, Lazarus was sick and had not died. Notice that the sisters did not pressure Jesus to come to them; they let him decide what He wanted to do. They also knew the danger he would face by coming to Bethany.

When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it’” (John 11:4, NIV).

To those in Bethany, they see only death as Lazarus dies. Jesus is saying that Lazarus’ life is not over because Jesus was about to take action.

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’ ‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back’” (John 11:5-8, NIV)? 

To His disciples, this made no sense considering that Lazarus was only sick and Jesus’ life was in great danger.  

“After he said this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.  So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him’” (John 11:11-15, NIV).

Jesus deliberately waited until Lazarus was dead before He made plans to return to Bethany. So now, His disciples are perplexed. Why would Jesus want to return to Bethany, which was just over the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem?

“Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’” (John 11:16, NIV). Thomas is expressing his thoughts and his emotions.  Is this my imagination, or is Thomas showing some irritation?  He may seem disgusted, but he is obedient.

As Jesus and His disciples approach Bethany, Martha meets them. On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two milesfrom Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home” (John 11:17-20, NIV).

Jewish tradition believed a person must be buried immediately after death, preferably the same day but no more than three days later because the soul hovers over the body for three days after death. For this reason, Jesus delayed His visit until four days after Lazarus had died. He wanted to be sure that the people knew that Lazarus was dead and that the spirit had departed. Some, including Martha, believed that the soul went to sleep after three days. Notice what Martha says next.

“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day’” (John 11:21-24, NIV).

It seems that Martha believed in soul sleep, that the soul is unconscious until the resurrection of the body. How widespread this belief was, we do not know. We don’t know what most Jews believed about the spirit after it departed from the body.

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (John 11:25-27), NIV).

This is the fifth great “I Am” that Jesus has used. He is the great “I Am” who has existed forever. He spoke to Moses from the burning bush and said, “I Am who I Am.” Many believe that Jesus was the “Angel of the Lord” who spoke to Moses. For a more significant development of the concept of “The Angel of the Lord,” read my book, He Shall Reign Forever, or visit my website: and read the introduction in my post: He Shall Reign Forever.

Jesus makes it clear that the soul never dies or becomes unconscious. The Apostle Paul would later reconfirm that the spirit continues to live after death. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (1 Cor. 5:8, NKJV).

At the time of Lazarus’ death, both the saved and unsaved went to Sheol – the saved went to Abraham’s Bosom (Paradise) which was the good part of Sheol. Do you remember the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus, the beggar, going to separate places after they died?

After she [Martha] had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’” (John 11:28-32, NIV).

Neither Martha nor Mary expected Lazarus to be resurrected. Instead, they thought Jesus had come too late to save their brother.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied” (John 11:33-34, NIV).

Jesus was so moved by the moment that in His compassion, “He wept” (John 11:35, NIV). This is the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus cared deeply about this family, and at that moment, He became very emotional, even though He knew what He was going to do next.

“But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God’” (John 11:37-39, NIV)?

“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he said this, Jesus loudly said, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with linen strips and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go’” (John 11:41-44, NIV).

“Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin” (John 11:45-47a, NIV).

“‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.’ Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish’” (John 11:47b-50, NIV).

From that time forward, the Jewish leaders began trying to find a way to kill him. Since Jesus’ time had not yet come, He and His disciples left the area and returned to the area of Perea.  

The Bible states that “Our days are numbered.” We read in the book of Job, “A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5, NIV). 

It is interesting how this applies to Lazarus. The day of His first death was planned many years before Lazarus was born, probably even before the earth’s foundations. It was a day on the timeline of Jesus’ walk to the cross. As the mourners returned to Jerusalem and spread the word about Lazarus’ resurrection, the Jewish leaders became even more agitated, rapidly elevating their hostility levels.

But Lazarus’ numbered days would continue, and he would have to die again. So, Lazarus died twice and will be resurrected twice. He did not receive a glorified body at his first resurrection, but he will receive a glorified body at his second resurrection.  

Jesus Predicts His Own Death

As Jesus and His disciples moved toward Jerusalem, He predicted His death for the third time.

“Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life” (Matt. 20:17-19, NIV)!

The disciples were still confused about the death of Jesus. At that point, we have two different timelines in play. Jesus is focused on the timeline that leads to the cross. The disciples have a timeline that leads to an earthly kingdom where Jesus will reign over the Jewish nation. The disciples see themselves as part of the inner circle.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom’” (Matt. 20:20-21, NIV).

 “‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father’” (Matt. 20:22-23, NIV).

The cup that Jesus is referring to is His death. The disciples are thinking about politics and continued with this mindset until Jesus’ ascension. We need to note that Jesus never said He would not set up the physical kingdom; He just said that the Father was in charge of the timing.

“When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Matt. 20:24-28, NIV).

You can see why His disciples are confused when we look at a previous statement Jesus had made to them.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wifeor children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first’” (Matt: 19:28-30, NIV).

Before they sit on their thrones in Jesus’ physical kingdom, every disciple except one will also drink from the cup of death that Jesus is about to drink. John is the only one who dies a natural death.

The Jewish leaders had different mindsets. The Sadducees were the aristocrats and political leaders. They probably could have traced their roots to the time of the Maccabees’ revolt against the Greeks in 176 BC. After this revolt, the high priest usually ruled over Israel. Annas, the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas, had political ties with the Roman Emperor, Tiberius Caesar Augustus. Several of the other family members had served as high priest.

The house of Annas controlled all the commercial activities associated with the temple and was the leader of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court. The Sadducees considered only the first five books of the Bible to be valid, denied the existence or influence of angels and the resurrection of the dead, and did not believe in the immortality of the soul or an afterlife. Only the Temple rituals were beneficial for salvation.

The Pharisees were a pious and proud group of people. They tried to keep every letter of their expanded Mosaic law and expected everyone else to do the same. As the Pharisees tried to keep the Mosaic law, they detailed each component and expanded its original purpose. Since Jesus criticized their teachings, they became bitter and hostile toward Him.

During the Feast of Passover, all these various interests are about to clash. The hostility levels would peak, in the Roman court of Pontus Pilate, just before the timeline to the cross ended.

Return to Bethany

“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts, they asked one another, ‘What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?’ But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him” (John 11:55-57, NIV).

Many came early for purification rituals and were there for a longer time.

Sometime before Sunday of Passover Week, Jesus and His disciples made their way to Bethany which is on the east side of the Mount of Olives. They were on their way to the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus for dinner – probably on Saturday night after the Sabbath. At this time, the Jewish leaders were looking for Jesus so they could kill him.

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him” (John 12:1-2, NIV).  Matthew, Mark, and Luke reported that this dinner occurred at Simon the Leper’s home.

Mary does something unusual and extraordinary. “Then Mary took about a pintof pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3-4, NIV).

Mary is anointing Jesus for His burial. Some Biblical scholars believe that Mary may have been saving the expensive perfume for her dowery – perhaps she was unmarried.

“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:4-6, NIV).

“‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me’” (John 12:12:7-8, NIV).

Note: Matthew, Mark, and Luke reported that this dinner occurred at Simon the Leper’s home later in the week. They did not report that the woman who anointed Jesus was Mary.

Martha could have served at another place. There may be a discrepancy with the timing of the sequence of the events. John’s sequence seems to be more logical.

Judas was not only a thief, but he was also a traitor. He is disillusioned because Jesus is saying He is going to die. He was planning on Jesus establishing a physical kingdom on earth and was expecting to be part of the leadership – he was never a true disciple or believer.

“Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him” (John 12:9-11, NIV).

Shortly after that, Judas met with the Jewish leaders to make plans to betray Jesus. The tension between the Jewish leaders and Jesus is building.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® 2011 by Zondervan Corporation.  Used by permission. All rights reserved. Used with permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *