Combining a chronological arrangement of the biblical text with insightful commentary, this book serves as a day-by-day guide to Jesus’s final week on earth, complete with a quick-reference glossary and color maps.
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About the Author
Andreas J. Köstenberger (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is the director of the Center for Biblical Studies and research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a prolific author, distinguished evangelical scholar, and editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is the founder of Biblical Foundations, a ministry devoted to restoring the biblical foundations of the home and the church. Köstenberger and his wife have four children.
Justin Taylor (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher at Crossway. He has edited and contributed to several books, including A God-Entranced Vision of All Things and Reclaiming the Center, and he blogs at Between Two Worldshosted by the Gospel Coalition.
Alexander Stewart (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is academic dean and assistant professor of New Testament language and literature at Tyndale Theological Seminary in Badhoevedorp, the Netherlands. He is the coauthor (with Andreas J. Köstenberger) of The First Days of Jesus.
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MARCH 29, AD 33
Jesus Enters Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1 — 11; Mark 11:1 — 10; Luke 19:29 — 44; John 12:12 — 19)
The Passover crowds and inhabitants of Jerusalem were filled with messianic expectation, and Jesus does not disappoint. On Sunday morning, Jesus and his disciples are on the Mount of Olives as they approach Jerusalem. He sends two of his followers to the nearby village (Bethphage or Bethany), instructing them to bring a donkey and colt on which he will sit for his entrance into Jerusalem. By this intentional symbolic action, Jesus will clearly communicate his kingship to the expectant crowds of Passover pilgrims by fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, that Israel's future king would come riding on the foal of a donkey, and by copying Solomon's entrance into Jerusalem when he was declared king.
As Jesus makes his westward descent down the Mount of Olives and toward the Holy City, the crowds rightly interpret his actions with expectant joy and respond in kind by spreading robes and leafy palm branches in his pathway to create a royal red carpet (see 2 Kings 9:13) and by acclaiming him their Davidic king:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
(Matt. 21:9; Mark 11:10; see also Isa. 9:7)
The crowds are openly acclaiming Jesus instead of Caesar as king!
The whole city is shaken by the events, and the crowd keeps spreading the word to any in Jerusalem who have not yet heard who Jesus is (Matt. 21:10 — 11). Some Pharisees instruct Jesus to rebuke the crowds for their dangerous messianic exuberance, but he refuses to correct or curtail the excitement of the crowd over his entrance into the city (Matt. 21:15 — 17; Luke 19:39 — 40). It would be hard to overestimate the political and religious volatility incited by Jesus's actions — the Pharisees were taken by surprise and had no idea how to respond (John 12:19). Up to this point in Jesus's ministry, he could still have managed to live a long, happy, peaceful life, but his actions on Sunday set in motion a series of events that could result only in either his overthrow of the Romans and the current religious establishment — or his brutal death. He has crossed the point of no return; there would be no turning back. Caesar could allow no rival kings. As Jesus approaches the city, he weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41 — 44).
Jesus Predicts His Death (John 12:20 — 36)
Some Greeks who were among the Passover pilgrims seek an audience with Jesus. John does not record the Greeks' question, but Jesus responds by predicting his death and describing it as the very purpose for which he has come into the world (John 12:27). A voice from heaven, thunderous in sound, affirms God's commitment to glorify his name through the coming death of Jesus (John 12:28 — 29). Jesus goes on to clarify the kind of fate he will meet: death by crucifixion (being "lifted up from the earth," John 12:32; see Isa. 52:13). Yet by his death, Jesus will deal Satan a crushing blow (John 12:31; see also Luke 10:18; Gen. 3:15).
The Jewish crowd, of course, does not like this kind of talk and objects that according to the Mosaic law, the Messiah must remain forever. Jesus does not directly answer their objection but instead commands them to "walk while [they] have the light" (i.e., Jesus himself, the "light of the world," John 8:12; 9:5) and believe in the light in order to become sons of light before it is gone and darkness comes (John 12:35 — 36).
Jesus Visits the Temple (Matt. 21:14 — 17; Mark 11:11)
Before returning with the Twelve to Bethany at the end of the day, Jesus visits the temple complex. Jesus continues to upset the religious establishment: healing the blind and lame, and receiving the praise of children.
This initial visit to the temple sets the stage for the unforgettable events that are to occur there the following day.CHAPTER 2
MARCH 30, AD 33
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree (Matt. 21:18 — 19; Mark 11:12 — 14)
As Jesus and his disciples are returning to Jerusalem Monday morning, Jesus, being hungry, spots a fig tree. Israel is often characterized as a fig tree in the Old Testament (Jer. 8:13; Hos. 9:10, 16; Joel 1:7), and Jesus's cursing of the fig tree symbolizes the judgment of God upon a nation that has the outward appearance of life but fails to bear fruit.
Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Matt. 21:12 — 13; Mark 11:15 — 18; Luke 19:45 — 48)
With the riveting events of the previous day still fresh in everyone's mind, all eyes are on Jesus as he enters the city Monday morning. What will the recently hailed Davidic Messiah do to bring about his kingdom? Jesus wastes no time in answering this question by going straight to the temple.
From his visit the night before, he knows exactly what he will find there — moneychangers and merchants selling sacrificial animals in the Court of Gentiles. These profiteers prey upon the religious devotion of the Passover pilgrims who must pay the temple tax with a Tyrian shekel and present unblemished animals for sacrifice. Consumed by holy zeal and righteous indignation, Jesus overturns the tables and chairs of the moneychangers, throws out merchants and customers alike, and refuses entrance to any who are carrying goods for sale. He then begins to teach the people that the temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations (see Isa. 56:7; Jer. 7:11), not a den of thieves where the rich and powerful exploited the poor under the guise of facilitating worship of God.
By these actions, Jesus directly challenges the Jewish religious leadership complicit with — and likely benefiting from — this glaring corruption of devotion to Israel's covenant-keeping God. The chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people desperately begin looking for a way to destroy Jesus. Not only had he directly challenged Jewish authority, but the Romans needed no excuse to exercise force if there was any civil instability. In contrast, the common people love what they are seeing. Jesus is shaking things up and setting things right just as the Messiah was expected to do. At the same time, however, by cleansing the temple Jesus further seals his death sentence. Those in power will not put up with a challenge to their authority on this level. Jesus must die.
When evening comes, Jesus and his followers leave Jerusalem once again (Mark 11:19; Luke 21:37).CHAPTER 3
MARCH 31, AD 33
Jesus Teaches His Followers a Lesson about the Fig Tree (Matt. 21:20 — 22; Mark 11:20 — 26)
When passing by the fig tree Jesus had cursed the day before, and at Peter's remark that it had withered, Jesus takes the opportunity to instruct his followers to have faith in God. If they do not doubt but believe, they will be able to move spiritual mountains by way of believing prayer. While praying, they must forgive others who have wronged them, so that their own sins will be forgiven by God as well.
Jesus Teaches and Engages in Controversies in the Temple (Matt. 21:23 — 23:39; Mark 11:27 — 12:44; Luke 20:1 — 21:4)
On Tuesday morning, the crowds come early to the temple to hear Jesus speak (Luke 21:38). Will Jesus do anything today to match the excitement of the previous two days?
The chief priests, scribes, and elders immediately approach Jesus when he enters the temple and confront him concerning his actions on the previous day: "By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?" (Mark 11:28). They are the ones who have authority over the temple and its activities, and Jesus had no right to do what he had done. Depending on his answer — and there was no answer that would satisfy them — Jesus could be arrested for his actions.
In reply, Jesus turns the tables on them by promising to answer their question if they first answer his: "Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?" (Mark 11:30). The religious leaders are caught, unable to answer Jesus's simple question. If they were to say, "From heaven," the obvious follow-up would be, "Then why don't the leaders believe in Jesus about whom John testified?" If they were to retort, "From man," they would incur the wrath of the common people who hold John in high esteem as a prophet sent from God.
After thus humbling the Jewish leaders, Jesus follows up his question — the answer to which was in any case obvious to the crowds — with a series of parables. The parable of the two sons (Matt. 21:28 — 32) explicitly condemns the religious authorities for not believing John's message, while tax collectors and prostitutes, the most wicked kinds of people imaginable, believe and are entering the kingdom of God ahead of the supposed spiritual leaders. This parable must have infuriated the Jewish authorities, but Jesus adds fuel to the fire with two more parables directed against them.
In the parable of the tenants (Matt. 21:33 — 44; Mark 12:1 — 11; Luke 20:9 — 18), the disobedient, thieving, murdering tenants clearly represent the scribes, chief priests, and Pharisees. There is nothing subtle about Jesus's telling of the parable: the religious leaders recognize the parable as having been spoken against them (Matt. 21:45; Mark 12:12; Luke 20:19). The parable is allegorical with the following correspondences:
The Parable of the Tenants
Vineyard owner God Vineyard Israel Slaves God's prophets The son Jesus Destruction of the evil tenants God's judgment on Israel's unrighteous leaders Giving of the vineyard to others Extension of God's kingdom to the Gentiles
In the parable of the wedding feast (Matt. 22:1 — 14), Jesus makes similar points. The current religious leadership have rejected God's invitation to the messianic wedding banquet and will be judged while the invitation is extended to all.
Jesus is clearly winning the support and approval of the people while exposing the failure and hypocrisy of the ruling Jewish leadership. The authorities, for their part, do not take this lying down and continue trying to figure out a way to arrest him; but they lack the opportunity because of Jesus's widespread popularity among the crowds (Matt. 21:46; 22:15; Mark 12:12 — 13; Luke 20:19 — 20). If they seize him, the attempted arrest would cause a riot. The leaders therefore resort to a subtler tactic and try to trick Jesus into incriminating himself by sending Pharisees (a Jewish sect known for its zeal to keep the law) and Herodians (those loyal to Herod's dynasty) to ask him a question to which either answer would provide grounds to accuse him: "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" (Matt. 22:15 — 22; Mark 12:13 — 17; Luke 20:20 — 26). If Jesus answers yes, he would shatter people's expectations of him as a Messiah who would throw off Roman rule; if no, he could be arrested for fomenting revolt. The temporary alliance of the Herodians and Pharisees (Jesus's political and religious adversaries) clearly demonstrated that Jesus was perceived as a threat to all the existing power structures. His clever answer avoids the trap by allowing for a both/and scenario, evading the either/or dilemma posed by his foes: the denarius has Caesar's image on it; so as long as Caesar is in power, it is appropriate to pay taxes to him (of course, in the messianic kingdom Caesar's image would not be on the coinage, so there the obligation would no longer apply). At the same time, Jesus urges his listeners to give God the things that are God's; since we are made in God's image, we owe everything to him. The image of Caesar and Roman gods on coins deeply offended Jews in the first century. Yet Jesus cleverly sidesteps their trap, and the Pharisees and Herodians, amazed at his answer, are at a loss as to how to respond.
After Jesus has silenced the Pharisees and Herodians, the Sadducees (a Jewish sect that denied the end-time resurrection of the dead) step forward to test him with a tricky theological conundrum (Matt. 22:23 — 33; Mark 12:18 — 27; Luke 20:27 — 40). Their question is designed to make Jesus's belief in the resurrection look ridiculous. But by quoting God's self-affirmation in Exodus 3:6, 15 — 16 to the effect that he is a God of the living, not the dead, Jesus once again turns the tables on his opponents. They marvel at his answer and, as do the others who tried to trick him, fall silent.
Now another questioner, at the instigation of the Pharisees, steps forward in order to test Jesus (Matt. 22:34 — 35). An expert in the law asks Jesus which of God's commands is the greatest (Matt. 22:34 — 40; Mark 12:28 — 34). Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4 — 5 and Leviticus 19:18, calling for love of God and one's fellow man, and the following conversation leads Jesus to commend (and implicitly invite) the questioner: "You are not far from the kingdom of God" (Mark 12:34).
At this point, Jesus goes on the counteroffensive against those who have been trying to trap him and asks them a question concerning the way in which Psalm 110:1 describes the Messiah as David's Lord: How can he at once be both David's son and his Lord? (Matt. 22:41 — 46; Mark 12:35 — 37; Luke 20:41 — 44). Being of Davidic ancestry posed no problem for the Messiah's being Lord, but if this ancestry was interpreted as making him merely human, then there was a problem. Again, the opposition is utterly confounded: "And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions" (Matt. 22:46).
Having established the inability of the Jewish religious leadership to answer Jesus's questions, Jesus launches a lengthy, scathing critique of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23:1 — 39; Mark 12:38 — 40; Luke 20:45 — 47). He warns the crowds against those "hypocrites" and "blind guides" and pronounces seven woes of judgment against them. This full-scale verbal assault against the current religious authorities removes all doubt concerning Jesus's intentions, agenda, and aims. He has no desire to ally himself with the current leadership; he has come to overthrow their authority and to replace it with his own. There is no way that both sides can survive the escalating conflict. It seems that either Jesus will come to assume power or face death.
Jesus Predicts the Future (Matthew 24 — 25; Mark 13:1 — 37; Luke 21:5 — 36)
As Jesus is leaving the temple on Tuesday evening, his disciples are discussing the size and grandeur of the buildings in the temple complex. In response, Jesus prophesies that the day is fast approaching when not one stone will be left upon another. All will be thrown down.
When Jesus and his disciples stop to rest on the Mount of Olives, his followers come to him and privately ask about the timing of his prophecy: "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?" (Mark 13:4; Luke 21:7). "And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matt 24:3). The disciples' question in Mark and Luke relates to the timing of the destruction of the temple, while Matthew's inclusion of the question concerning the close of the age makes clear that the disciples did not think the temple would be destroyed until the end of time.
Jesus's lengthy response in Matthew, Mark, and Luke subtly differentiates the two events (though interpreters vary as to which event Jesus refers in the various parts of the discourse). It is not always clear whether Jesus is giving instructions to his disciples concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (which would take place in AD 70) or concerning his second coming and the end of the age (which was in the more distant future from the vantage point of Jesus's original followers and is still future from our vantage point today). In keeping with prophetic convention, the near event — the destruction of the temple — served as a type (picture or foreshadowing) of the worldwide divine judgment that will come upon the earth at Christ's return. The main themes of Jesus's discourse, reinforced by the parables of the ten virgins and of the talents, are clear. Followers of Jesus will experience increasing persecution and tribulation leading up to the final day of judgment, but they must remain vigilant and persist in faith.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Final Days of Jesus"
Copyright © 2014 Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
List of Charts, Diagrams, and Maps 11
Introduction: How to Use This Book 13
Early in the Week: The King Comes for His Kingdom (Sunday-Tuesday) 27
Sunday (March 29, AD 33) 31
Jesus Enters Jerusalem
Jesus Predicts His Death
Jesus Visits the Temple
Monday (March 30, AD 33) 35
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Tuesday (March 31, AD 33) 39
Jesus Teaches His Followers a Lesson about the Fig Tree
Jesus Teaches and Engages in Controversies in the Temple
Jesus Predicts the Future
Wednesday (April 1, AD 33) 47
The Plot against Jesus
Thursday (April 2, AD 33) 51
Preparations for the Passover
The Final Passover: The Synoptics
The Last Supper and Jesus's Cleansing of His Community
The Farewell Discourse Begins
The Farewell Discourse Continues
Jesus Predicts Peter's Denials
Jesus Issues Final Practical Commands
The Garden of Gethsemane
Friday (April 3, AD 33) 95
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
The Jewish Trial of Jesus (Phase 1): Informal
The Jewish Trial of Jesus (Phase 2): More Formal
Peter Denies Jesus
The Jewish Trial of Jesus (Phase 3): The Final Verdict
Judas Hangs Himself
The Roman Trial of Jesus (Phase 1): Pilate
The Roman Trial of Jesus (Phase 2): Herod Antipas
The Roman Trial of Jesus (Phase 3): The Final Verdict
The Road to Golgotha
The Death of Jesus
The Burial of Jesus
Saturday (April 4, AD 33) 169
The Jewish Leaders Post Guards
Sunday (April 5, AD 33) 173
Women Discover the Empty Tomb
The Women Tell the Disciples
Peter and John Rush to the Tomb
Mary Returns to the Tomb and Encounters Jesus
Encounter on Emmaus Road
Jesus Appears to the Ten without Thomas
Epilogue: Later Appearances of Jesus and the Ascension 195
Jesus Appears to the Eleven, Including Thomas
Jesus Appears to Some at the Sea of Galilee
The Great Commission
Who Do You Say That He Is? 203
Suggestions for Further Reading 207
Glossary and Reference Guide 211
What People are Saying About This
“This is a book about the most important person who ever lived during the most crucial week of his life. If you want to get to know the person and teachings of Jesus in the context of an engaging story with practical commentary, this book is for you. It is biblical, personal, and transformational.”
—Darrin Patrick, Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; author, For the City and Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission
“An enlightening and edifying look at the most important week in history. Both those who want to know more about the history and those who long to behold the wonder will find much to love about this great work. One gets the sense that we should proceed through these pages on our knees.”
—J. D. Greear, Lead Pastor, The Summit Church, Durham, North Carolina; author, Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved
“You may be wondering what can be done to make Christ’s last week come alive in ways it hasn’t before. It would help to understand the historical background and cultural script a little better, but you don’t want a big book. It would help, too, if your authors were trustworthy, knowledgeable evangelical scholars who could write clearly for laypeople. Look no further—this is the book for you!”
—Craig L. Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Denver Seminary
“Whether you’re a Christian seeking to defend your faith, an inquirer wanting to know what really happened with Jesus, or a disciple who wants to know the Lord more fully, The Final Days of Jesus will instruct and encourage you. It lays out the truth with coherence and conviction. I will point people to this book because it so clearly and faithfully explains what happened in the final days of Jesus. Here is the truth, based on the Gospel accounts. Here is the center of the Christian story, filled with insight and inspiration.”
—Mark D. Roberts, Executive Director of Digital Media and the Theological and Cultural Steward, Foundations for Laity Renewal; author, Can We Trust the Gospels?
“This is an immensely helpful guide to the last week of Jesus’s life—historically, theologically, and devotionally. Historically, it provides a likely chronology of Passion Week, chock full of historical, cultural, and geographical insights. Theologically, the authors provide the text of the four Gospels with helpful commentary, noting the theological contributions of each evangelist. Devotionally, the reader has the privilege of walking with Jesus through the most important week of human history—the climax of God’s redemptive plan. A feast of insights for both mind and heart.”
—Mark Strauss, Professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary San Diego
“Jesus’s last week shook but also saved the world. From Palm Sunday to Easter morning, each day and encounter were critical. This book leads the reader step by step along Jesus’s route from triumphal entry to the cross and finally to glory. Numerous maps and diagrams shed fresh light on each Gospel’s claims. We are reminded not only of what Christ did but also where his way points us now. An excellent beginning-to-intermediate guide!”
—Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
“Holy Week is arguably the most sacred time of year for Christians. Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor provide a simple yet eloquent survey of the final week of Jesus’s life. They take readers on a pilgrimage through the Gospels and invite us to follow Jesus in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, on to the dark and tragic moments of Golgotha, and through to the glorious and unspeakable joy at the feet of the risen Jesus. In short, this is a wonderful resource for individuals, families, and fellowships to learn more about the Easter story, the greatest story ever told.”
—Michael F. Bird, Lecturer in Theology, Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry
“A clearly presented overview of the most important week in world history. Brief, helpful comments illuminate the biblical story and bring home its enduring and life-changing message.”
—Douglas J. Moo, Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College
“The Final Days of Jesus helps believers take note of the historical events leading up to Jesus’s death on the cross. Readers are challenged to see the provocation that Jesus’s message and life represented, leading to his arrest and execution. The book demonstrates that historical facts and Christian worship can and should go hand in hand.”
—Eckhard J. Schnabel, Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; author, Paul the Missionary
“The center point of history is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thus The Final Days of Jesus is an incredibly important work, for it enables us to see the full impact of the social and religious tension that lay behind Jesus’s death as well as the theological implications for us. This book is both well researched and well written and is must-reading for students of the Word and indeed for all who wish to understand more fully the God-led events that resulted in the cross.”
—Grant Osborne, Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“Ninety-eight percent of the students entering a particular Christian college last year claimed to be Christians. Yet twenty-five percent did not know that Christianity affirms that Jesus literally rose from the dead! What better way to rediscover this truth than to walk alongside the Savior during his final days and moments? Köstenberger and Taylor guide us on our pilgrimage, and they are outstanding guides. More than anything else, they remind us that Jesus final days are not really the end.”
—Charles L. Quarles, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary