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The Life Of Jesus Of Nazareth by Rush Rhees

V The Journey through Perea to Jerusalem

166. The fourth gospel says that after the visit to Jerusalem at the feast of Dedication Jesus withdrew beyond Jordan to the place where John at the first was baptizing (x.40). Matthew and Mark also say that at the close of the ministry in Galilee Jesus departed and came into the borders of Judea and beyond Jordan, and that in this new region the multitudes again flocked to him, and he resumed his ministry of teaching (Matt. xix.1f.; Mark x.1). What he did and taught at this time is not shown at all by John, and only in scant fashion by the other two. They tell of a discussion with the Pharisees concerning divorce (Mark x.2-12); of the welcome extended by Jesus to certain little children (Mark x.13-16); of the disappointment of a rich young ruler, who wished to learn from Jesus the way of life, but loved better his great possessions (Mark x.17-31); of a further manifestation of the unlovely spirit of rivalry among the disciples in the request of James and John for the best places in the kingdom (Mark x.35-45), -- a request following in the records directly after another prediction by Jesus of his death and resurrection (Mark x.32-34). Then, after a visit to Jericho (Luke xviii.35 to xix.28), these records come into coincidence with John in the account of the Messianic entry into Jerusalem just before the last Passover.

167. The fourth gospel tells in addition of a considerable activity of Jesus in and near Jerusalem during this period. In making the journey beyond Jordan start from Jerusalem (x.40), John shows that Jesus must have returned to the capital after his withdrawal from the feast of Tabernacles. When and how this took place is not indicated. Later, after his retirement from the feast of Dedication Jesus hastened at the summons of his friends from beyond Jordan to Bethany when Lazarus died (xi.1-7). From Bethany he went not to the other side of Jordan again, but to Ephraim (xi.54), a town on the border between Judea and Samaria, and from there he started towards Jerusalem when the Passover drew near. This record of John has, as Dr. Sanday has recently remarked (HastBD II.630), so many marks of verisimilitude that it must be accepted as a true tradition. It demands thus that in our conception of the last journey from Galilee room be found for several excursions to Jerusalem or its neighborhood. One of these at least -- to the feast of Dedication (x.22) -- represents another effort to |gather the children of Jerusalem.| While not without success, for at least the blind man restored by Jesus gave him the full faith he sought (ix.35-38), it showed with fuller clearness the determined hostility to Jesus of the influential class (x.39).

168. It has been customary to find in the long section peculiar to Luke (ix.51 to xviii.14) a fuller account of the Perean ministry, as it has been called. For it opens with a final departure from Galilee, and comes at its close into parallelism with the record of Matthew and Mark. Yet some parts of this section in Luke belong in the earlier Galilean ministry. The blasphemy of the Pharisees (xi.14-36) is clearly identical with the incident recorded in Mark iii.22-30, and Matt. xii.22-45; while several incidents and discourses (see outline prefixed to Chapter III.) bear so plainly the marks of the ministry before the revulsion of popular favor, that it is easiest to think of them as actually belonging to the earlier time, but assigned by Luke to this peculiar section because he found no clear place offered for them in the record of Mark. Not a little, however, of what Luke records here manifestly belongs to the time when Jesus referred openly to his rejection by the Jewish people. The note of tragedy characteristic of later discourses appears in the replies of Jesus to certain would-be disciples (ix.57-62), and in his warning that his followers count the cost of discipleship (xiv.25-35). The woes spoken at a Pharisee's table (xi.37-52), the warning to the disciples against pharisaism (xii.1-12), and the encouragement of the |little flock| (xii.22-34), with many other paragraphs from this part of the gospel (see outline at the head of this chapter), evidently were spoken at the time of the approaching end. Some narratives reflect the neighborhood of Jerusalem, and naturally corroborate the indications in the fourth gospel that Jesus was repeatedly at the capital during this time. The parable of the good Samaritan, for instance, must have been spoken in Judea, else why choose the road from Jerusalem to Jericho for the illustration? The visit to Mary and Martha shows Jesus at Bethany, and the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, naming the temple as the place of prayer, belongs naturally to Judea.

169. The effort to find the definite progress of events in this part of Luke has not been successful. There are three hints of movement towards Jerusalem, -- the introductory mention of the departure from Galilee (ix.51); a statement that Jesus went on his way through cities and villages, journeying on unto Jerusalem (xiii.22); and again a reference to passing through the midst of Samaria and Galilee on the way to Jerusalem (xvii.11). The attempt to make the third of these belong actually to the last stages of the final journey seems artificial. Confessedly the expression |through the midst of Samaria and Galilee| is obscure. It is much easier to understand, however, if the journey so described is identified with the visit to Samaria with which the departure from Galilee opened. It seems probable that Luke found these records of events and teachings in Jesus' life, and was unable to learn exactly their connection in time and place, so placed them after the close of the Galilean story and before the account of the passion, much as later some copyist found the story of the adulteress (John vii.53 to viii.11), and, certain that it was a true incident, gave it a place in connection with the visit to the feast of Tabernacles (perhaps influenced by John viii.15). It must always be remembered that the earliest apostolic writing -- Matthew's Logia -- probably consisted of just such disconnected records (see sects.28, 42), and that, as Juelicher (Einleitung i. d. NT.235) has said, the early church was not interested in when Jesus said or did anything. Its interest was in what he said and did.

170. The time of the departure from Galilee for Jerusalem may be set with much probability not long before the feast of the Dedication in December; for at that feast Jesus was again in Jerusalem, and from it he returned to Perea (John x.22, 40-42). He started southward through Samaria (Luke ix.51 ff.), and probably in connection with the early stages of the journey he sent out the seventy |into every city and place whither he himself was about to come| (Luke x.1). It is not unlikely that, after the sending out of these heralds, he went with a few disciples to make one more effort to turn the heart of Jerusalem to himself (John ix., x.). It is impossible to determine whither the seventy were sent. The |towns and cities| whither Jesus was about to come may have included some from all portions of the land, not excepting Judea. The matter must be left in considerable obscurity. This, however, may be said, that the reasons offered for holding that the story of the sending out of the seventy is only a |doublet| of the mission of the twelve are not conclusive (see sect. A 68). The connection in Luke of the woes against Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Chorazin with the instruction of the seventy is very natural, and marks this mission as belonging to the close of the Galilean period, while the mission of the twelve belongs to the height of Jesus' popularity.

171. Our knowledge of Jesus' visit to the feast of Dedication is due to John's interest in the cure at about that time of one born blind (John ix., x.). The prejudice of the sanhedrists who excommunicated the man for his loyalty to Jesus led him in indignation to contrast their method of caring for God's |sheep| with his own love and sympathy and genuine ministry to their needs. He saw clearly that his course must end in death, unless a great change should come over his enemies; yet, as the Good Shepherd, he was ready to lay down his life for the sheep, rather than leave them to the heartlessness of leaders who cared only for themselves (x.11-18). The critics of Jesus could not, or would not, understand his charge against them, and accused him of madness for his extraordinary claims. There were some, however, who could not credit the notion that Jesus had a devil (John x.21). It is possible that it was at this time that the lawyer questioned him about the breadth of interpretation to be given to the word |neighbor| in the law of love, and was answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke x.25-37). Possibly the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke xviii.9-14) belongs also to this time. In general, however, the visit proved anew that Jerusalem was in no mood to accept Jesus (John x.24-39). His enemies sought to draw from him a declaration of his claim to be the Messiah, and Jesus appealed to his works, asserting that only their incorrigible prejudice prevented their recognizing his claims. He added that his Father, with whom he was ever in perfect accord, had drawn some faithful followers to him, and thereupon, angered by his claim to close kinship with God, they appealed to the rough logic of violence (John x.31-39; compare viii.59).

172. After this added attempt to win Jerusalem Jesus withdrew to the region beyond Jordan, where John had carried on his ministry to the eager multitudes. Here he anew attracted great attention, causing people to contrast his ministry with the less remarkable work of John, and to acknowledge that John's testimony to him was true (John x.40-42). Possibly it was in this place that the seventy found Jesus when they returned to report the success of their mission (Luke x.17-24), for the thanksgiving which Jesus rendered for the faith of the common people in contrast with the unbelief of the |wise and prudent| might well express his feeling after the fresh evidence he had at the feast of Dedication that Jerusalem would none of his mission. The invitation to all the heavy laden to take his yoke illustrates, though under another figure, his claim to be the Good Shepherd (Matt. xi.28-30). We have no means of knowing how much more of what the gospels assign to the last journey to Jerusalem should be put in connection with this sojourn across the Jordan. The multitudes that came to him there may have included the Pharisees who questioned him about divorce (Mark x.2-12), and the young ruler who loved his great possessions (Mark x.17-31), as well as the parents who eagerly sought the Lord's blessing for their children (Mark x.13-16). Some parts of Luke's narrative seem to belong still later in this journey, yet such a section as the reply of Jesus to the report of Pilate's slaughter of the Galileans (xiii.1-9), or the parable of the Great Supper (xiv.15-24), is suitable to any stage of it.

173. This sojourn on the other side of Jordan was brought to a close by the summons to come to the aid of his friends in Bethany (John xi.). It is not strange that the disciples feared his return to Judea, nor that Jesus did not hesitate when he recognized the call of duty as well as of friendship. In no recorded miracle of Jesus is his power more signally set forth, yet here more clearly than anywhere else he is represented as dependent on his Father in his exercise of that power. The words of Jesus at the grave (John xi.41, 42) show that he was confident of the resurrection of Lazarus, because he had prayed and was sure he was heard. It may be that his delay after hearing of the sickness of his friend (xi.6) was a time of waiting for answer, and that this explains his confidence of safety when the time came for him to expose himself again to the hostility of Judea. Jesus indicated not only that on this occasion he had help from above in doing his miracles, but that it was the rule in his life to seek such help and guidance (xi.42). In fact, at a later time he ascribed all his works to the Father abiding in him (John xiv.10; compare x.25). The effect of the resurrection of Lazarus was such as to intensify the determination of the leaders in Jerusalem -- both Pharisees and Sadducees -- to get rid of Jesus as dangerous to the quiet of the nation (John xi.47-54). In this it simply served to fix a determination already present (John vii.25, 32; viii.59; x.31, 39). The miracle does not appear in John as the cause of the apprehension of Jesus, but rather as one influence leading to it. It was indeed the total contradiction between Jesus and all current and cherished ideas that led to his condemnation; the raising of Lazarus only showed that he was becoming dangerously popular, and made the priestly leaders feel the necessity of haste. The silence of the first three gospels concerning this event is truly perplexing, yet it is not any more difficult of explanation, as Beyschlag (LJ I.495) has shown, than the silence of all four evangelists concerning the appearance of the risen Jesus to James, or to the five hundred brethren (I. Cor. xv.6, 7). Room must be allowed in our conception of the life of Jesus for many things of which no record remains, all the more, therefore, for incidents to which but one of the gospels is witness. Moreover, after the collapse of popularity in Galilee, the great enthusiasm of the multitudes over Jesus when he entered Jerusalem (Luke xix.37-40; Mark xi.8-10) is most easily understood if he had made some such manifestation of power as the restoration of Lazarus.

174. After the visit to Bethany Jesus withdrew to a little town named Ephraim, on the border between Judea and Samaria, and spent some time there in seclusion with his disciples (John xi.54), doubtless strengthening his personal hold on them preparatory to the shock their faith was about to receive. Of the length of this sojourn nothing is told us, nor of the road by which Jesus left Ephraim for Jerusalem (John xii.1). The first three gospels show that he began his final approach to the Holy City at Jericho (Mark x.46). It may be that he descended from Ephraim direct to Jericho some days before the Passover, rejoining there some of the people who had been impressed by his recent ministry in the region |where John at the first was baptizing.| It is natural to suppose that it was on this journey to Jericho that he warned his disciples again of the fate which he saw before him in Jerusalem (Mark x.32-34), and quite probably it was at this time that he rebuked the crude ambition of the sons of Zebedee by reminding them that his disciples must be more ambitious to serve than to rule, since even |the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many| (Mark x.35-45). At Jericho he was at once crowded upon by enthusiastic multitudes. The feeling they had for him may perhaps be inferred from the cry of blind Bartimeus, |Thou son of David, have mercy on me| (Mark x.48). This enthusiasm received a shock when Jesus chose to be guest in Jericho of a chief of the publicans, a shock which Jesus probably intended to give, for much the same reason that led him afterwards on his way up to Jerusalem to teach his followers in the parable of the pounds that they must be ready for long delay in his actual assumption of his kingly right (Luke xix.11-28). Finally, six days before the Passover, he and his disciples left Jericho and went up to Bethany preparatory to his final appearance in Jerusalem (John xii.1).

175. The interval between the final departure from Galilee and the public entry into Jerusalem was given to three different tasks: the renewed proclamation of the coming of the kingdom, further efforts to win acceptance in Jerusalem, if perchance she might learn to know the things that belonged to her peace; and continued training of the disciples, specially needed because of the ill-considered enthusiasm with which they were inclined to view the probable issue of this journey to Jerusalem. The first of these tasks was conducted as the earlier work in Galilee had been, both by teaching and healing, in which Jesus used his disciples even more extensively than before. It proved that here as in Galilee the common people were ready to hear him gladly, until he showed too radical a disappointment of their hopes. In this new ministry to the people Jesus spoke very frankly of the seriousness of the opposition which the leaders of the people were manifesting, and of the need that those who would be his disciples should count the cost of their allegiance (Luke xiii.22-30; xiv.25-35; xii.1-59). He did not hesitate to administer the most scathing rebuke to the Pharisees for the superficiality and hypocrisy of their religious life and teaching (Luke xi.37-54), -- a rebuke which is emphasized by the parable in which, on another occasion, he taught God's preference for a contrite sinner over a complacent saint (Luke xviii.9-14). When reminded of Pilate's outrage upon certain Galilean worshippers, he used the calamity to warn his hearers that personal godliness was the only protection which could secure them against a more serious outbreak of the hostility of the Roman power (Luke xiii.1-9); and it was probably in reply to such an appeal as accompanied this report of Pilate's cruelty that Jesus spoke the parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke xviii.1-8), teaching that God's love may be trusted to be no less regardful of his people's cry than a selfish man's love of ease would be.

176. The second of these tasks must not be held to be perfunctory, even though each new effort for Jerusalem proved that genuine acceptance of its saviour was increasingly improbable. As the denunciations of the older prophets ever left open a way of escape if Israel would return and seek the Lord, so the anticipation of rejection and death which filled the heart of Jesus does not banish a like if from his own thought of Jerusalem in his repeated efforts to |gather her children.| The combination of the new popular enthusiasm and the fresh proofs of the hopelessness of winning Jerusalem made more important the third task, -- the founding of the faith of the disciples on the rock of personal certainty, from which the rising floods of hatred and seeming ruin for the Master's cause could not sweep it. It was for them that much of his instruction of the multitudes was doubtless primarily intended; they needed above all others to count the cost of discipleship (Luke xiv.25-35), and the warnings against the spirit of Pharisaism (Luke xii.) were addressed principally to them, even as it was to them that Jesus confessed the |straitening| of his own soul in view of the |fire which he had come to cast upon the earth| (Luke xii.49-53), -- a confession which had another expression when he found it needful to rebuke the personal ambition of the sons of Zebedee (Mark x.35-45). As for Jesus himself, the popular enthusiasm had not deceived him, nor the obdurate unbelief of Jerusalem daunted him, nor his disciples' misconception of his kingdom disheartened him; he still steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.

Outline of Events in the Last Week of Jesus' Life

Saturday (?). The anointing in Bethany six days before the Passover -- Matt. xxvi.6-13; Mark xiv.3-9; John xi.55 to xii.11.

Sunday (?). The Messianic entry -- Matt. xxi.1-11; Mark xi.1-11; Luke six.29-44; John xii.12-19.

Monday (?). Visit to the temple: the cursing of the barren fig-tree -- Matt. xxi.18-19, 12-17; Mark xi.12-14, 15-18; Luke xix.45, 47, 48.

Return to Bethany for the night -- Matt. xxi.17; Mark xi.19; Luke xxi.37, 38.

Tuesday (?). Visit to the temple: the fig-tree found withered -- Matt, xxi 20-23; Mark xi.20-27; Luke xx.1.

Challenge of Jesus' authority -- Matt. xxi.23-27; Mark xi.27-33; Luke xx.1-8.

Three parables against the religious leaders -- Matt. xxi.28 to xxii.14; Mark xii.1-12; Luke xx.9-19.

The question about tribute -- Matt. xxii.15-22; Mark xii.13-17; Luke xx.20-26.

The question of the Sadducees about the resurrection -- Matt. xxii.23-33; Mark xii.18-27; Luke xx.27-40.

The question of the Pharisees about the great commandment -- Matt. xxii.34-40; Mark xii.28-34.

Jesus' counter-question about David's son and Lord -- Matt. xxii.41-46; Mark xii.35-37; Luke xx.41-44.

Jesus' denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees -- Matt, xxiii.1-39; Mark xii.38-40; Luke xx.45-47.

The widow's two mites -- Mark xii.41-44; Luke xxi.1-4.

The visit of the Greeks -- John xii.20-36^a.

Final departure from the temple -- John xii.36^b (-50).

Discourse concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world -- Matt. xxiv.1 to xxvi.2; Mark xiii.1-37; Luke xxi.5-38.

Plot of Judas to betray Jesus -- Matt. xxvi.3-5, 14-16; Mark xiv.1, 2, 10, 11; Luke xxii.1-6.

Wednesday. Retirement at Bethany. (?)

Thursday. The Last Supper -- Matt. xxvi.17-30; Mark xiv.12-26; Luke xxii.7-30; John xiii.1-30.

The farewell words of admonition and comfort -- John xiii.31 to xvi.33.

The intercessory prayer -- John xvii.1-26.

Friday. The agony in Gethsemane -- Matt. xxvi.30, 36-46; Mark xiv.26, 32-42; Luke xxii.39-46; John xviii.1.

The betrayal and arrest -- Matt xxvi.47-56; Mark xiv.43-52; Luke xxii.47-53; John xviii.1-12.

Trial before the high-priests and sanhedrin -- Matt. xxvi.57 to xxvii.10; Mark xiv.53 to xv.1^a; Luke xxii.54-71; John xviii.12-27.

Trial before Pilate -- Matt, xxvii.11-31; Mark xv.1-20; Luke xxiii.1-25; John xviii.28 to xix.16^a.

The crucifixion -- Matt, xxvii.32-56; Mark xv.21-41; Luke xxiii.26-49; John xix.16-37.

The burial -- Matt, xxvii.57-61; Mark xv.42-47; Luke xxiii.50-56; John xix.38-42.

Saturday. The Sabbath rest -- Luke xxiii.56^b.

The watch at the tomb -- Matt, xxvii.62-66.

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