Week 43


Day 1: Matthew 20:1-16, Mark 10:32-34, Matthew 20:17-19, Luke 18:31-34, Mark 10:35-45, Matthew 20:20-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-19:27

Day 2: Mark 14:3-9, Matthew 26:6-13, John 12:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, M 21:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-19, Luke 19:41-44, John 12:20-36

Day 3: John 12:37-50, Mark 11:12-14, Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:15-19, Matthew 21:12-17, Luke 19:45-48, Mark 11:20-33, Matthew 21:23-27, Luke 20:1-8

Day 4: Matthew 21:28-32, Mark 12:1-12, Matthew 21:33-46, Luke 20:9-19, Matthew 22:1-14, Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 22:15-22, Luke 20:20-26, Mark 12:18-27, Matthew 22:23-33, Luke 20:27-40

Day 5: Mark 12:28-34, Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:35-37, Matthew 22:41-46, Luke 20:41-44, Mark 12:38-40, Matthew 23:1-12, Luke 20:45-47, Matthew 23:13-39, Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4

Day 6: Mark 13:1-23, Matthew 24:1-25, Luke 21:5-24, Mark 13:24-31, Matthew 24:26-35, Luke 21:25-33

Day 7: Mark 13:32-37, Matthew 24:36-51, Luke 21:34-38, Matthew 25:1-46


Hard Questions

  1. (Mt. 20:1-16) The compassionate employer
  2. John 12:41 observation. Isaiah 6 and 53 are quoted in this passage, and then John 12:41 says this: “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.” John is saying here that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of Jesus, and when we reflect this back into Isaiah 6, it’s mind-blowing. It’s also something to bring out with our Jehovah’s Witness friends, and it’s something to help us understand a little more deeply just how glorious Jesus is, and how worthy of worship.
  3. (Jn. 12:40, 42) Blinding eyes and hardening hearts . . . even so, many among the rulers believed in Him. God is intentionally hardening people to all of the amazing things Jesus is doing, because they have to crucify Him for the plan to work. He has to be the slain Lamb. Even so, many do believe in Him; they’re just afraid of the Pharisees. I think we have to be cautious about assuming who is being hardened by God at any given time; here, we’re given the heavenly perspective, but we don’t generally have that in ourselves, so we need to be careful what we assume or say about people. Their story’s not over yet.
  4. (Mk. 11:12-14; Mt. 21:18-22) Jesus curses the fig tree. F. F. Bruce talks about this in his book, Hard Sayings of Jesus (208-209): “The problem is most satisfactorily cleared up in a discussion of ‘The Barren Fig Tree’ published many years ago by W. M. Christie, a Church of Scotland minister in Palestine . . . . He pointed out first the time of year at which the incident is said to have occurred (if, as is probable, Jesus was crucified on April 6th, A.D. 30, the incident occurred during the first days of April) . . . . ‘Towards the end of March the leaves begin to appear, and in about a week the foliage coating is complete. Coincident with [this], and sometimes even before, there appears quite a crop of small knobs, not the real figs, but a kind of early forerunner. They grow to the size of green almonds, in which condition they are eaten by peasants and others when hungry. When they come to their own indefinite maturity they drop off.’ These precursors of the true fig are called taqsh in Palestinian Arabic. Their appearance is a harbinger of the fully formed appearance of the true fig some six weeks later. So, as Mark says, the time for figs had not yet come. But if the leaves appear without any taqsh, that is a sign that there will be no figs. Since Jesus found ‘nothing but leaves’—leaves without any taqsh—he knew that ‘it was an absolutely hopeless, fruitless fig tree,’ and said as much.” This is also an acted parallel to Jesus’ parable in Luke 13:6-9, the fig tree being given three years to produce figs, or it will be destroyed (and His ministry lasted three years).
  5. (Mk. 11:20-26) How Jesus talks about faith that removes mountains—what do we do with that? Bruce says (211), “In Mark’s account, ‘this mountain’ in the saying would be the Mount of Olives. Now, in current expectation regarding the time of the end, the Mount of Olives played a special part. It would be the scene of a violent earthquake on the Day of the Lord. ‘On that day,’ said one of the prophets (referring to the day when the God of Israel would take final action against the enemies of His people), ‘his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward’ (Zech. 14:4). If Jesus had this and related Old Testament prophecies in mind on his way across the Mount of Olives, his meaning might have been, ‘If you have sufficient faith in God, the Day of the Lord will come sooner than you think.’” Bruce gets this from a work by a Professor William Manson, from 1943. I do find this a satisfying answer, because it takes culture and Old Testament context into account, as well as the actual landscape; and it does account for the fact that we ask for a lot of things that we don’t get, regardless of the quality of our faith. If Jesus is talking specifically about the Day of the Lord (which we should be praying for), then He’s being very precise, rather than making every unanswered prayer about someone’s lack of faith.
  6. (Mt. 23:8-12) Avoidance of titles. We’re to refuse to be called “teacher,” and we’re not to call anyone “Father.” This is pretty clearly in a spiritual sense, as in not giving ourselves a position over other people (as if we weren’t equal before God), as well as not acknowledging someone else with the title of “Father” who didn’t produce us spiritually.
  7. (Mt. 24:15-22) This seems to refer to what we see in Revelation, when there is another temple in Jerusalem, and the Gentiles overrun it again for three and a half years, and somewhere in all of this time there are two beasts, and one seems to come back from the dead, and it is worshiped, and there is all kinds of violence. This time is shortened for the sake of God’s people.
  8. (Mk. 13:30; Mt. 24:34; Lk. 21:32) Louis A. Barbieri Jr. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Matthew,” 78) thinks that “this generation” refers not to Jesus’ original hearers but to the generation of people alive in the future end times that He’s talking about. John D. Grassmick (“Mark,” 172) says the phrase refers both to the generation with whom Jesus is speaking, which will see the temple destroyed in A.D. 70, and to the generation that will be alive for the destruction at the end times.


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