Outlines Of New Testament History -Rev. Francis E. Gigot D.D.



              1. From Ephrem to Jericho:

              The road followed: why chosen?


                            Jesus and the Pharisees.


                            Our Lord and the twelve.




              2. Through Jericho:

              The two blind men healed.


                            Zacheus, a son of Abraham.




              3. At Bethany:

              Anointing of Our Lord.




                            Conspiracy of the chief priests against

              Lazarus and Jesus.






(April 2–5, A.D. 30.)

              1. Palm Sunday: Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.




              2. Monday:

              Cursing of the fig-tree: its meaning.


                            Second cleansing of the Temple.




              3. Tuesday:

              In the Temple:

              The parables delivered: their significance.


                                          Vain attempts of all the sections of His enemies to ensnare Jesus.




                            On the Mount of Olives: last prophecies and parables.


                            Plot against Jesus. The traitor’s covenant.




              Wednesday: Seclusion at Bethany.


§ 1. Final Journey to Jerusalem

1. From Ephrem to Jericho. After a seclusion of several weeks Our Lord left Ephrem and started on His final journey to Jerusalem. As He intended soon to make His triumphal entry into the Holy City at the head of great multitudes, He so directed His steps as to meet the caravans which from the north and from the east were already moving towards Jerusalem on the approach of the Paschal celebration. Accordingly He went northward through Samaria, and next eastward on the border-land between that province and Galilee, to meet in the plain of the Jordan the Galilean caravans. Then He crossed the Jordan and kept along the river-banks, where He was joined by the Jewish caravans coming from the east, and together with them He recrossed the Jordan at a ford nearly opposite Jericho.

Scarcely had Jesus re-entered public life, when the Pharisees reappeared, pursuing Him. With mockery they inquired of Him when all His preparatory preaching of the Messianic kingdom would be at an end, and the new kingdom begin. Our Lord’s answer was a complete condemnation of the manner in which His enemies thought the Messianic kingdom should appear. He affirmed in opposition to their views that no great external signs would usher it in, and that no magnificent court would surround the new King, so that no throng attracted by His apparel could say: “He is here! He is here!” Indeed, the kingdom they still expected had already begun in their midst, and they were not aware of the fact. However humbling to their pride Our Lord’s condemnation of their Messianic views may have appeared in the eyes of the Pharisees, His words in several other circumstances were still more calculated to wound their sensibilities.

Meantime, Jesus was actively engaged in training His disciples for their apostolic mission and for His near departure from them. Among the special instructions He gave them during this period, we may notice in particular His teachings about celibacy, as about a special calling in life higher in its nature than that of matrimony. His main efforts, however, were plainly directed towards preparing their minds and feelings for His coming passion and death. Yet their preconceived notions about the victories of the Messias over the enemies of the Jews, and about His glorious earthly rule, prevented them from realizing the plain import of Our Lord’s words.| In fact, as various troops of pilgrims fell in with the crowds which already surrounded Jesus, and as they greeted Him with enthusiasm, the apostles shared the common belief that at length their Master would very soon begin His glorious rule. This explains to us how, only a few hours after one of His most explicit predictions of the ignominious treatment He was to suffer at the hands of the Gentiles, two disciples of Jesus, James and John—probably instigated by Salome, their mother—laid an open claim on the highest honors of Our Lord’s kingdom. The jealousy of the other apostles was at once aroused by this ambitious request of the two brothers, and Jesus profited by this new outburst of their love of superiority and power, to teach them a lesson most important for themselves and for their successors in the holy ministry. He plainly told them that, however it might be among the rulers and leading men of the world, greatness among his disciples was to be attained only by the humble and faithful discharge of their arduous mission, “as the Son of Man also,” He added, “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a redemption for many.”

2. Through Jericho. Having crossed the Jordan, Jesus soon arrived at Jericho, an important town 5 or 6 miles west of the Jordan and between 15 and 20 miles northeast of Jerusalem. In connection with this town the Synoptists agree in recording a miracle of healing as performed by Our Lord at its gate, but they seem to be at variance on the two following points: (1) while St. Matthew states that two blind men received their sight from Jesus, St. Mark and St. Luke speak only of one man; (2) St. Matthew and St. Mark affirm that the miracle was performed on Christ’s departure from Jericho; St. Luke says, on the contrary, that it occurred when “He drew nigh” that city.

Whatever may be thought of these discrepancies, it was certainly at but a few miles from Jerusalem that Jesus accepted again the Messianic title of “Son of David,” publicly given Him by the blind men of Jericho, and that in imparting to them the special blessing they asked for, He proved Himself to be the Messias predicted by the prophets of old. It is true that in the eyes of many His conduct towards Zacheus, the despised chief of the publicans of Jericho, appeared at first unworthy of one claiming to be the holy King and mighty deliverer of the Jews; yet when they noticed the conversion of Zacheus and heard Our Lord’s assertion that He had come to reclaim the lost sons of Abraham, they were satisfied that Jesus had acted in a manner worthy of the Messias whom they expected. Nay more, their hopes about Him ran so high, under the circumstances of the time, that “they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately be manifested.” It was to counteract these wild expectations of His immediate enthronement in Jerusalem, that before leaving Jericho Our Lord delivered the significant parable of the Pounds, wherein He suggested that He must first take His departure from the midst of His own people, and that only on His glorious return He would treat both friends and foes according to their deserts.

3. At Bethany. While the pilgrims who had already reached Jerusalem debated among themselves whether Jesus would come for the Paschal festival, Our Lord left Jericho and proceeded towards the Holy City. On the sixth day “before the Pasch” He arrived in Bethany and repaired to the house of Martha and Mary, which He intended to make His home during the last week of His mortal life. At the end of the next day (probably Saturday, April 1, 30 A.D.) a supper was prepared for Him and for His disciples. Lazarus was there, and Martha served. As they were at table, Mary came behind the couch on which Jesus reclined, and poured on His sacred head and feet a most precious ointment, the sweet odor of which filled the house. This costly offering, prompted by her love, greatly displeased the avaricious Judas, who openly murmured against it as a waste, and whose view about the matter was shared by some others of the disciples. But the action of Mary was highly praised by Our Saviour, who saw in it a loving homage especially connected with His approaching death and burial.

Meanwhile the news of Our Lord’s arrival at Bethany had spread through the Holy City, and a great multitude of Jews hearing it, went to Bethany to see Him and also Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. Whereupon the chief priests, who had already decided upon the death of Jesus, took it into serious consideration whether Lazarus also should not be put to death, because as long as he should live he would be the means of inducing many to believe in Christ, who had restored him to life.

§ 2. Beginning of Passion Week (April 2–5, 30 A.D.)

1. Palm Sunday. On the first day of the week of His passion—known as Palm Sunday—Jesus left Bethany about mid-day to effect His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Attended by His disciples and other pilgrims, He probably followed the usual road for horsemen and caravans, and which is the southernmost of the three roads connecting Bethany with the Holy City. Soon Bethphage was in view, and according to His directions, two of Our Lord’s disciples brought to Him an ass and a colt, whereon, as predicted by Zacharias (9:9), Jesus wished to make His Messianic entry into Jerusalem. This appeared to some of His disciples the signal that He would at length assume the rank and title which they believed to be His; and placing their outer garments on the yet unbroken colt, as a kind of saddle, they set Jesus thereon, and accompanied Him with joyful acclamations.

Thus they moved on towards Jerusalem, Lazarus and the apostles near Jesus, and a great multitude following Him. This multitude shared in the enthusiasm of Christ’s disciples, and in their joyful transports strewed their outer garments and palm branches in the way of our divine Saviour. Many of them had been witnesses of the raising of Lazarus, and they proclaimed, as they advanced, this wonderful deed of Jesus.

When the long and triumphant procession reached the point of the road where first begins “the descent of Mount Olivet,” the multitudes caught the first view of the Jewish capital, and this sight drew from them shouts of triumph: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed be the King who cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest!” It was indeed as a king that on that glorious day Jesus presented Himself to the Holy City and to its rulers. But the future was not hidden from His eyes, as it was from the eyes of all those who surrounded Him, and hence, when a short while after the multitudes had begun their hymns of triumph, the road allowed Our Saviour to contemplate the whole city in all its splendor, He wept over it, and described the awful fate which awaited it and its inhabitants.

Probably as they descended the Mount of Olives, crowds from Jerusalem and its neighborhood met them, attracted by the shouts of Our Lord’s followers. They, too, were bearing branches of palm-trees, and turning round, they fell in with the procession and preceded Jesus, joyfully proclaiming Him the King of Israel.

St. Luke informs us that among this ever-growing multitude there were Pharisees who would have had Jesus silence His partisans. Instead of rebuking His disciples as requested by the Pharisees, Our Lord declared that this public proclamation of His Messianic dignity was so entirely in conformity with the divine designs, that “if these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out.”

When the triumphant procession entered Jerusalem the whole city was moved; and the Pharisees in their impotent rage were reduced to say among themselves: “Do you see that we prevail nothing? behold the whole world is gone after Him!” while the Saviour of the world was led to the Temple. There the procession dispersed, the Jewish customs not allowing the pilgrims to come near the sanctuary in travelling clothes and with dusty feet.

It was late, and Our Lord simply visited the Temple, “viewing all things round about,” as if He would observe whether all was done according to His Father’s will, and then He returned to Bethany with the twelve to spend the night.

2. Monday. The next morning Our Lord returned to Jerusalem, and on His way thither He saw at a distance by the wayside, a fig-tree which had an appearance of bearing fruit. He went to it, but finding nothing but leaves, He doomed the tree to perpetual barrenness in the hearing of His disciples. In this action of Our Lord we cannot help recognizing a figure of the decay to which Israel was henceforth and forever doomed, because Jesus had found in the Jewish nation nothing but the appearances of righteousness.

Entering the city He went to the Temple, the desecration of which He had noticed the evening before. The old abuses against which He had energetically protested at the beginning of His public life had crept in again—nay more, they were apparently greater than at the time of the first cleansing of the Temple by Jesus. He therefore cleansed a second time the house of His Father, and then proceeded to exercise in its purified courts His public ministry of teaching and healing. His doctrine caused the admiration of the whole multitude around Him, and His wonderful deeds of healing moved the children, who may have been members of the choir of singers employed in the Temple, to re-echo the joyful Hosannas of the preceding day. The chief priests and Scribes in their displeasure demanded that He should put a stop to these acclamations, but in presence of His popularity they did not feel able to proceed farther with their murderous designs. At evening Our Lord returned to Bethany.

3. Tuesday. The next day Jesus appeared again in the Temple, where He was soon met by an official deputation from the Sanhedrim. These deputies inquired of Him the nature and origin of His mission, pretending thereby that they were competent judges of His claims to a divine mission. But Our Lord showed clearly to them, that if—as they affirmed themselves—they were not able to decide whether the baptism administered by John was of heaven or not, He had a perfect right not to consider them competent judges of the character and origin of His own mission. Then He proceeded to tell them in parables, whose meaning they could not help realizing, that since they had rejected all the divine warnings, they in turn would be rejected, together with their capital and nation, to give place to a new theocratic people yielding fruits worthy of God’s kingdom.

Never had the words of Jesus been calculated to wound more deeply the personal and national pride of the different sections of the Sanhedrim that had been deputed to Him, and this is why Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes attempted in turn to ensnare Him by their captious questions. To the Pharisees who asked Him whether it was lawful to give tribute to Cæsar, Our Saviour answered that they could not have accepted the coins of the emperor without recognizing his sovereignty and thereby declaring it lawful to pay him tribute. The question put to Christ by the Sadducees betrayed their disbelief of a future life, and He clearly showed that their frame of mind had no other basis than their ignorance of the infinite power of God and of the exact meaning of the Mosaic Law. After this direct and precise answer of Jesus to one of the standing difficulties of the Sadducees against the popular belief of a future resurrection, one of the Scribes was deputed to ask Him, with a view to ensnare Him, “Which is the great commandment in the Law?” He also received a fully satisfactory answer, the wisdom of which he even acknowledged with genuine admiration.

But Our Lord had been long enough upon the defensive. He therefore proceeded to put to a test the knowledge of His adversaries by one single question. He inquired of them how the Messias could be the son of David, and yet be called “Lord” by David himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This was a topic about which the leaders of the Jews should apparently have had a ready and distinct answer, yet “no man was able to answer Him a word,” and this is why “no man durst from that day forth ask Him any more questions.” In consequence of this avowed ignorance of the Sanhedrists, Jesus was fully justified in the eyes of all to denounce the blindness and pride of His deadly enemies, and then He gave vent to the tender feelings of His compassionate heart about the coming ruin of Jerusalem and its sanctuary, hurried on by the guilty leaders of the Jewish nation.

As Our Lord left the Temple He foretold again its utter destruction, and this led some of His disciples to inquire “privately” about the time and signs of this awful calamity. It is probably when seated on the Mount of Olives, opposite the Temple, that Jesus uttered His last prophecies concerning the ruin of the Holy City and the end of the world, and that in this connection He delivered the parables of the Ten Virgins and of the Talents to impress upon the minds of His hearers the constant duty of watchfulness and faithfulness. To this He added a description of the last judgment, and He concluded by a prediction of the occasion, the manner and the very day of His sufferings and death.

While Our Saviour was thus predicting to His disciples that He was to suffer and to be crucified during the Paschal festival, the chief priests and ancients of the people, in a meeting at the palace of Caiphas, had resolved not to arrest Him during the feast for fear of the multitudes. But Our Lord’s prediction was fulfilled in a way His enemies were far from anticipating. Judas, one of the twelve, came to them and offered, for money, to betray Jesus secretly into their hands. Great indeed was the joy of the leaders of Israel at this unexpected offer, and they covenanted to give Judas thirty pieces of silver (about $18.70), while he, on his part, agreed to watch for a favorable opportunity to betray his Master to them.

Our Lord’s public ministry closes with Holy Tuesday (April 4th), for He does not seem to have returned to Jerusalem the following day, which He probably spent in seclusion at Bethany.

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