Note: Notice that Matthew and Mark omit the last half year of Jesus's ministry before the events leading to the passion, and thus we follow these months only in Luke and John. Harmonization is a bit difficult for this period, because there are only a few places where those two Gospels both record the same event (which is key to the harmonizing effort). On the other hand, the two narratives fit together nicely when this reality is recognized: Luke narrates Jesus's travels beyond Jerusalem, as well as the times when He sets out to go to Jerusalem (or its immediate environs); John, on the other hand, picks up the narrative when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem (or it immediate environs) and relates His ministry in that place. Further, John's account is built around two feasts which occurred during these last six months: the Feast of Tabernacles (Sept/Oct of 32 AD, about 6 months before Jesus's death) and the Feast of Dedication (or Hanukah, in late Dec). Jesus goes up to Jerusalem for each of these. Luke has Him leaving for Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles (Luke 9:51; John narrates His ministry at that feast in John 7), and then again for the feast of Dedication (Luke 13:22; cf. John 10:22-39). Finally, Jesus goes to the village of Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-54; Luke makes no mention of this journey).
A. In Capernaum, Jesus Receives Bitter Counsel from His Unbelieving Brothers
Scripture: John 7:1-9
Notes: Note carefully the foreboding summary statement with which John begins his narrative of this period of Jesus's ministry (John 7:1).
- Notice that the record is clear that as of this time, within months of Jesus's death, His (half-)brothers did not believe on Him. Contemplate how difficult it would have been to accept Jesus's claims if He were your brother!
- Did Jesus's siblings ever come to faith? How do we know?
- Note well that in all this, given the very real danger He was in, Jesus was "wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove," and in that spirit He conducted Himself very circumspectly through these months.
B. Jesus and the 12 Set out from Galilee
Notes: This is the first of three times that Luke describes Jesus as setting out for or on the road to Jerusalem. Again, these are best harmonized with the times that Jesus arrives in Jerusalem in the narrative of John's gospel.
- Notice that Jesus determines to travel through Samaria, but He takes precautions in that regard (Luke 9:52-56). Understand the careful strategy involved in this route.
- John's comment that Jesus "went up not publicly, but privately" is best understood in terms of the strategically chosen Samaritan route narrated in Luke 9.
- Notice the stern demands of discipleship laid down by Jesus along the way. (Matthew's account of this challenge by Jesus seems to be recorded anachronistically, which is not unusual, as Matthew often arranges material more thematically than chronologically.)
Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).
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