Jesus’ long journey is almost over. In a matter of hours the Messiah will be dead, but those hours will tick by slowly. Some of the time is spent with those Jesus loves the most and who He has spent almost every waking moment with for the last three years. The rest of His time will be spent in agony, humiliation and suffering. Throughout His betrayal, desertion, mockery and brutal torture, however, Jesus does not flinch from His resolve. Instead, He faithfully fulfills His mission until He can say, with His dying breath, “it is finished!”
The Final Conflict with the Pharisees
A. Jesus gives three parables, all of them an indictment of the ruling religious order. It’s interesting that Jesus refuses to answer the Jewish leaders directly when they ask Him to defend His authority (Matt 21:27), but then immediately answers their question by way of parable (Matt 21:28-22:14) that He clearly spoke against them (see Mk 12:12).
1. The parable of the disobedient sons (Matt. 21:28-32)
a. The first son says he will obey, but doesn’t; the second says he won’t obey, but does.
b. The point: obedience is better than assurances (or “Talk is cheap”).
2. The parable of the landowner and his tenants (Matt 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-11; Lk 20:9-18)
a. The landowner’s representatives are mistreated by the tenants, who later kill his son.
b. The point: identifies Israel’s guilt in their rejection of God’s chosen ones.
3. The parable of the wedding feast (Matt. 22:1-14)
a. The invited guests don’t come, so the door is open to others.
b. This demonstrates:
1) The long-suffering and goodness of God
2) The rejection of those despising the invitation
3) The necessity for purity
B. Jesus recites the Seven Woes (Matt 23:1-36).
1. He publicly condemns the religious leaders of the time for the motives of their religion (v5-7).
“But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men...” (v5)
2. Jesus stands for truth even when it is unpopular, when it goes against the prevailing teaching of the time.
a. “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph 5:11).
b. “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet 3:15).
c. To speak out in a loving way does not mean you don’t confront or that you back down when someone disagrees with you. Jesus never backed down.
The Olivet Discourse
(Matt 24; Mk 13; Lk 21:5-36)
Given on the Mount of Olives, this discourse gives signs of the end of the age emphasizing that the disciples are to maintain an attitude of alertness and readiness for Jesus’ certain return.
A. Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple.
“Do you not see these all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down” (Matt 24:2).
B. The Apostles ask two questions (Matt 24:3):
1. “When will these things be [the destruction of the temple, et all]?” (This question is answered in Luke’s account).
2. “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
C. The signs of the end of the age (Matt 24)
1. Great spiritual deception and false Messiahs, accompanied by displays of supernatural power (v5, 24).
2. Great political, natural, and social upheaval.
a. Nation against nation (v7)
b. Famines and earthquakes (v7)
c. Lawlessness increases and love grows cold (v12).
d. Like birth pangs: increasing frequency and increasing intensity.
3. The expansive proclamation of the Gospel (vs. 14)
D. The “sign” of His coming (v23-31)
1. Jesus’ return will not be in secret.
2. Jesus return will be visible, powerful and conclusive.
E. The parable of the fig tree (v32-33)
1. Take courage during this great tribulation (see also v6).
2. Be morally ready and not caught by surprise. (In 1 Thess. 5:1-11, Paul develops this theme further.)
F. When will He come?
1. Jesus gives the general timing—“This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (v34). Here I think Jesus is not referring to the generation He was speaking to, but rather to the generation He was just describing, that is, the one who sees all of these things take place.
2. Jesus didn’t currently know the exact timing as He spoke to His disciples, but He doesn’t say no one cannot know.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (v36).
3. However, Jesus does know now, at this present moment, because He’s with the Father and no longer in His humility.
Jesus’ statement was not meant to be restrictive for all time, I believe. He simply answered the question of “When?” by saying, “I don’t know.” We are not perpetually in a state of ignorance about this event, however. The NT emphasis is that the person in darkness—the unbeliever—will be caught by surprise. The Christian, however, shouldn’t be caught because he’s a child of light, constantly in spiritual and moral readiness, alerted to the signs of Jesus’ coming (see 1 Thess 5).
The die is cast; the final act of the drama is about to be played out. Jesus’ life is in the hands of those who hate Him. In His final hours, with “the marks of the tears He had wept over Jerusalem still on His cheek,” (Edersheim LTJM, Vol. 2, p. 373). Jesus gathers those closest to Him to offer encouragement, to prepare them for the dark days ahead, and to demonstrate to them “the full extent of His love” (Jn 13:1, NIV).
Upper Room Discourse—Jesus’ farewell discourse
(Matt 26:20-35; Mk 14:17-31; Lk 22:14-38; Jn 13:1-17:26)
A. The preparation for the Passover meal:
1. Jesus was well aware that the religious leaders wanted to execute Him.
a. Judas had already made provisions with the Jewish authorities to betray Jesus (Lk 22:1-6) for the sum of thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:14-15).
[The prophet Zechariah was given this amount by the people (Zech 11:12-13), a payoff at his dismissal. God interprets this as the worth that He had in their eyes: “’Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.’ So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.” This prophecy was fulfilled by Judas, who valued his own master at thirty pieces of silver, then cast them down in the sanctuary. It was later used to buy a potter’s field (Matt 27:5-8).]
b. Jesus’ enemies continued to look for “a good opportunity to betray Him” (Matt 26:16).
2. Dinner arrangements were made in secret, without Judas’ knowledge.
a. The secret sign: a man carrying a jug of water on his head (Mk 14:13-16).
b. The sign was a good one because men didn’t ordinarily assume such a chore (Harrison, p. 177).
B. The setting:
1. The upper room was probably a vacant room above the living quarters which was used for guests (Harrison, p. 177).
2. The disciples “reclined” at a low table without chairs.
The men reclined, usually leaning on their left elbow with their feet pointing away from the table. John, next to Jesus, was able to lean back on Jesus’ breast and have an intimate conversation with Him (Jn 13:23-26).
C. Jesus washes the disciple’s feet (Jn 13:1-20).
1. The disciples had been arguing over who was greatest (Lk 22:24).
2. Jesus took the opportunity to show them that greatness is determined by humility and servanthood.
a. The owner of the house, probably out of respect for Jesus’ privacy, was absent and had left no servant, but had provided a basin and towel.
b. The disciples, too concerned with their high position and sense of superiority, neglected this task, customarily done by an underling.
3. To Jesus, humility and servanthood were not threats, but privileged expressions of love (v1-3).
a. He loved them: “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”
b. He knew who He was: “...knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands...”
c. He knew where He came from: “...and that He had come forth from God...”
d. He knew where He was going to: “...and was going back to God.”
4. There is no profound love without humility, service and sacrifice.
D. Judas leaves.
1. Jesus acknowledges an enemy in their midst.
a. “You are clean, but not all of you” (13:10).
b. “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray me.”
2. John, at Peter’s behest, privately learns the identity from Jesus (13:23-26).
3. Jesus dismisses Judas (13:27-30).
a. Satan entered into Judas.
b. “What you do, do quickly.”
c. “...and it was night.”
E. The Lord’s Supper and the initiation of the New Covenant (Matt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:17-20)
1. New Covenant summary (Jer 31:31-37; Ezek 36:24-36, Joel 2:28-29)
The New Covenant is contrasted to the Old in that it cannot be broken and is for all nations, not just Israel.
a. For all nations
1) New relationship with a new heart based on...
2) Complete and permanent personal forgiveness resulting in the...
3) Giving of the Spirit
b. For Israel: national revival.
2. Jesus’ blood simultaneously fulfilled the Old Covenant and initiated the New Covenant.
a. Fulfilled the Old
1) “Behold, the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:35).
2) “He made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21).
b. Initiated the New:
1) Check signed at the last supper.
2) Check covered at the cross.
3) Check cashed at Pentecost.
c. It necessarily implies the end of the Old Testament sacrificial system (see Heb 8-10).
F. The new commandment (J 13:34. 15:17)
1. Jesus gives a new commandment: love one another.
2. He has been showing them this all along in His own life.
3. He is speaking of a love that is greater than any other love, one in which one man lays down his life for another.
G. New provisions, because Jesus was going to the Father.
1. A place in the Father’s house (14:2) (Imprecisely translated “mansions” in the King James Version. Lit. mone, or abode (Young, p. 644), as in Jn 14:23. It’s not meant to indicate separate compartments (Vine, p. 392) as “mansion” might imply, but rather a place for believers to dwell securely with God.)
2. The only true way to get to the Father: Jesus Himself (14:6).
3. Jesus’ return to escort them back (14:3).
4. Authority to pray in His name to bring glory to the Son (14:13-14).
a. We pray to the Father in the authority of Jesus.
b. Jesus alone has the ear of the Father by virtue of His role as priest (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:34).
5. The permanent presence of the Holy Spirit (J 14:16,16:7)
a. Another Helper, lit. allos parakletos, “another of the same sort,” “called to one’s side to give aid.” (Vine, p. 111)
1) An advocate, one who pleads another’s cause
aa. Jesus, an advocate on our behalf before the Father (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).
bb. The Holy Spirit, an advocate on our behalf in witnessing (15:26-27).
2) A comforter, one who gives succor
b. The Spirit of truth
1) The world doesn’t know Him, and can’t receive Him (14:17).
2) He will teach all things and bring to remembrance all that Jesus spoke (14:26).
3) He will bear witness of Jesus, so that we might bear witness of Jesus (15:26).
aa. He’ll convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (16:8).
bb. He’ll glorify Jesus (16:14).
H. The promise of fruitfulness for those who abide (J 15:1-8).
1. Fruitfulness is a result of the union between Jesus and us.
2. Fruitfulness is increased by pruning (ouch!).
I. High Priestly Prayer (truly “the Lord’s Prayer”) (J17)
1. Jesus prays for Himself—the Son’s glory is the Father’s glory (v1-5).
2. Jesus prays for His disciples (v6-19).
a. That they would be preserved in the world.
b. That they would be one, in unity.
c. That they would be with Jesus to behold His glory.
3. Jesus prays for all believers (v20-26). He even prayed for us!