The Passion and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus

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The Passion of the Lord Jesus from his entrance into Jerusalem on the first day of the week before Passover to the resurrection is told in all four Gospels.
Each adds rich detail to the story. Together they provide us a picture of the event that changed history.

The story begins on the morning of the first day of the week, the day we call Sunday and celebrate as Palm Sunday.

Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017
by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.
Commentary by Pastor and Bible scholar Don R. Camp, M.Div.
Background: Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead, and as the news spread the Jewish Council met to discuss the crisis that was building. The crowds were more and more convinced that Jesus was the Messiah King.  The Priest and Pharisees were adamantly opposed to Jesus. With the approaching Passover, this clash could overflow in riot.  Jesus withdrew from the storm and left Bethany for a small town near the wilderness.

John 11:54-57

Thus Jesus no longer went around publicly among the Judeans, but went away from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. 55 Now the Jewish Feast of Passover was near, and many people went up to Jerusalem from the rural areas before the Passover to cleanse themselves ritually. 56 Thus they were looking for Jesus, and saying to one another as they stood in the temple courts, “What do you think? That he won’t come to the feast?” 57 (Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should report it, so that they could arrest him.)
Ephraim is thought to have been located about 12-15 miles northeast of Jerusalem. 
Matthew 26:6-13

Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of expensive perfumed oil, and she poured it on his head as he was at the table. 8 When the disciples saw this, they became indignant and said, “Why this waste? 9 It could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor!” 10 When Jesus learned of this, he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a good service for me. 11 For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me! 12 When she poured this oil on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”















Mark 14:1-9

Two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 2 For they said, “Not during the feast, so there won’t be a riot among the people.”


 3 Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of costly aromatic oil from pure nard. After breaking open the jar, she poured it on his head. 4 But some who were present indignantly said to one another, “Why this waste of expensive ointment? 5 It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!” So they spoke angrily to her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a good service for me. 7 For you will always have the poor with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want. But you will not always have me! 8 She did what she could. She anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”




  John 12:1-8

 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 So they prepared a dinner for Jesus there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus was among those present at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took three quarters of a pound of expensive aromatic oil from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus. She then wiped his feet dry with her hair. (Now the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.) 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was going to betray him) said, 5 “Why wasn’t this oil sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” 6 (Now Judas said this not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money box, he used to steal what was put into it.) 7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept it for the day of my burial. 8 For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me!”









Following John's chronology, Jesus returns to Bethany from Ephraim without entering Jerusalem. According to John this was six days before Passover. Since Jesus would not have traveled on Sabbath, this would have been Friday.  The meal might have happened on Friday, but that was the beginning of the Sabbath, so it is unlikely. It is more likely that the meal was on Saturday after the Sabbath ended. Jesus would have made his first journey to Jerusalem the following day, the first day of the week, our Sunday.

The chronology of Matthew and Mark (see Mark 14:1-2 in purple) place the anointing at mid-week after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and before the Passover.  But that placement is probably for the sake of the narrative and to keep the anointing, along with the rebuke of Judas and the others, closer to the account of  Judas' arranging with the chief priests to betray Jesus.  In real time, it would not have had to have been that close. But could it have been on Sunday night rather than on Saturday night?

Matthew and Luke seem to differ about where Jesus stayed during the Passion week. Luke says that during the week Jesus and his disciples stayed on the Mount of Olives (21:37) not in Bethany. Matthew (21:17) says that Jesus returned to Bethany at the end of the day Sunday the first day of the Passion week. Both could be correct. It appears that Jesus did not begin teaching in the temple until Monday, the day following the Triumphal Entry.

Luke indicates that it was from Monday night on that Jesus and his disciples stayed on the Mount of Olives. That  would allow the anointing to have taken place in Bethany on Sunday night. But John's "six days before the Passover" would then not make sense. Six days would have place the Passover on  the Sabbath,  and that does not fit the description of any of the Gospels.  It is most likely that the anointing took place Saturday night.

Then there is the question of who the woman was who anointed Jesus. John identifies the woman as Mary, and because Lazarus and Martha are mentioned as being present, it imply this Mary is the Mary who is Lazarus and Martha's sister.  Matthew does not give her name, but Matthew does not name Lazarus or Martha either.  Since the details of the stories agree, there is no doubt that there was only one anointing. It is highly likely, then, that the Mary who anointed Jesus was Lazarus and Martha's sister.

Sometimes the similarity of this anointing and the anointing found in Luke 7:36, 37 is noted. The details of place and time differ so significantly, however, that the two cannot be the same.

The disciples object to the extravagance.  According to John the principal objection is made by Judas.  He adds that Judas was a thief.  As keeper of the money box, money given to Jesus for the poor would have been accessible to him. The connection implies a motive for his objection.  John may point specifically to Judas and not mention the objection of the other disciples because later Judas will demonstrate his disaffection with Jesus by betraying him to the leaders of the Jews for thirty pieces of silver.

Matthew
Mark 14:1-2; 10-11

Two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 2 For they said, “Not during the feast, so there won’t be a riot among the people.”


10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus into their hands. 11 When they heard this, they were delighted and promised to give him money. So Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray him.

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. 2 The chief priests and the experts in the law were trying to find some way to execute Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.

3 Then Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve. 4 He went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers of the temple guard how he might betray Jesus, handing him over to them. 5 They were delighted and arranged to give him money. 6 So Judas agreed and began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus when no crowd was present. 
John
Two days before Passover would have been Tuesday.  The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees and Scribes had become intense, and the chief priests were determined to end the conflict with the arrest and execution of Jesus. That must be done before the beginning of the  feast in two days, for as they said, his arrest in front of the crowds would stir up a riot. There was not much time.

Here the four Gospels return to Bethany and to Sunday morning.

Matthew 21:1-11

Now when they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. Right away you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:

5 “Tell the people of Zion,
'Look, your king is coming to you,
unassuming and seated on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those following kept shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 As he entered Jerusalem the whole city was thrown into an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”




Mark 11:1-10

Now as they approached Jerusalem, near Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go to the village ahead of you. As soon as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here soon.’” 4 So they went and found a colt tied at a door, outside in the street, and untied it. 5 Some people standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They replied as Jesus had told them, and the bystanders let them go. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 Many spread their cloaks on the road and others spread branches they had cut in the fields. 9 Both those who went ahead and those who followed kept shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”







Luke 19:29-38

29 Now when he approached Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 telling them, “Go to the village ahead of you. When you enter it, you will find a colt tied there that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent ahead found it exactly as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?” 34 They replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt, and had Jesus get on it. 36 As he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he approached the road leading down from the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”












John 12:12-16

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him. They began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15Do not be afraid, people of Zion; look, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt!” 16 (His disciples did not understand these things when they first happened, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about him and that these things had happened to him.)




















All four Gospels have Jesus approaching Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and Bethphage east of Jerusalem. According to John (12:1) he had spent the night at the home of Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. Bethany is about 1.5 miles east of Jerusalem.  We do not know exactly where Bethphage stood, but it appears from Mark and Luke that it was between Bethany and Jerusalem. It had to have been a tiny village, for there is no place for a larger town. In the tiny village of Bethphage, perhaps on the Jerusalem side of the Mt. of Olives,  Jesus had his disciples go to find a young donkey, a colt, for him to ride.

Matthew and John add that this fulfilled what the prophet Zechariah had foretold about the coming of the Messiah King. But John notes that they did not understand the connection  with Zechariah until it was all over and Jesus had risen from the dead.  Carried along by the excitement of the moment, they were not thinking about prophecy. 

The crowd had heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem and came out to meet him; they expected that he was coming to Jerusalem to take the throne as Messiah.  As Jesus slowly made his way down the western slope of the Mount of Olives to the Kidron Valley, all four Gospels record that the crowds shouted words that come from Psalm 118: "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" 

The one puzzle in this passage is Matthew 21:7 where it seems to read that Jesus sat on both the colt and the jenny.  That is a mistaken reading. What the passage reads is that Jesus sat on the cloaks.



Luke 19:39

39 But some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out!”


Among the crowd of disciples and celebrants were some Pharisees. They with the crowd met Jesus on his way down from the Mount of Olives to the Kidron Valley. They were scandalized by what the crowd was shouting for they were clearly declaring Jesus the Messiah King.


















Luke 19:41-44

41 Now when Jesus approached and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had only known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and surround you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will demolish you – you and your children within your walls – and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”



Perhaps responding to the rejection of the Pharisees, Jesus looked up toward the walls of the city. He knew that the adulation of the crowd would be replaced in just days by their calls for his death. The Pharisees would win the day.

The passage is echoed in Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; and Luke 21:6 just before the Olivet Discourse. John does not include the Olivet Discourse contained in the other Gospels, but he does record the specific prediction Jesus had for the city of Jerusalem which the other evangelists did not include. The city would be destroyed just as Jesus said.  
 
John wrote from a perspective 20 years after the destruction  of Jerusalem by the Romans. Perhaps he included this prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem because it had by then been fulfilled and was testimony to Jesus' knowledge of the days to come and supported his theme of Jesus as the Son of God.
Matthew 21:12-17

 12 Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!”

14 The blind and lame came to him in the temple courts, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the experts in the law saw the wonderful things he did and heard the children crying out in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of children and nursing infants you have prepared praise for yourself’?” 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.
Mark 11:11

11 Then Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. And after looking around at everything, he went out to Bethany with the twelve since it was already late.


















Luke 19:45-46

 45 Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling things there, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of robbers!”
















John 2:12-17

 12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there a few days. 13 Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

14 He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables. 15 So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me.”


It was late in the afternoon when Jesus entered the temple courts. What he saw angered and saddened him. Worship had become a business. Matthew and Luke record that he stormed through the court yard with Messianic passion, overthrowing the tables of the sellers and money changers reclaiming the temple for the purpose of prayer and worship. It was statement no one could have missed: it was his house.

Before leaving Jesus healed all who came to him, and the children shouted again the words "Hosanna to the Son of David." It was a celebratory word of praise to the one who was Messiah King. Again the chief priests and Scribes  rebuked him for allowing what they understood as a declaration that he was the Messiah. But Jesus did not restrain the enthusiastic praise of the children, rather he rebuked the priests.

He then returned to Bethany.

Mark records the cleansing of the temple as happening the next day (Mark 11:15-19).  It is unlikely that Jesus cleansed the temple twice, so it is probably for rhetorical purposes that Mark places the cleansing of the temple on Monday where it is sandwiched between the two parts of the cursing of the fig tree "parable" and demonstrates the truth the fig tree illustrates. 

John records an earlier cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus' teaching ministry (John 2:12-17, in purple). Most do not see this earlier cleansing to be the Passion week cleansing. But coming at the beginning of Jesus' teaching ministry it had the same purpose in the narrative. It established that Jesus as the Messiah King and the Son of God was zealous for his Father's house.

Passion week,  day  two