Based on Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 7:36-50; Luke 10:38-42; Luke 19:29-48; Luke 21:7-38; John 11; John 12:1-26
Jesus had three special friends who lived near Jerusalem in the village of Bethany. They were Mary, her sister Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Jesus loved to visit their quiet home whenever He could.
Jesus had to be very careful when He was preaching and teaching. He knew that spies sent by the jealous priests and rulers were often watching and listening, hoping to find a reason to get Him into trouble. But in the home of His special friends, Jesus could relax and talk about important things.
Jesus’ friends loved Him. They knew that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, and the true king of Israel. But, like everyone else, they expected that the Messiah would set up a kingdom in this world that would free them from the Romans and make Israel a great nation.
Mary loved Jesus in a special way, because He had helped her stop doing some very wrong things. Once, when Jesus visited their home, Martha was working hard in the kitchen trying to fix a special meal for their guests; but Mary forgot all about helping her, because she was eagerly listening to Jesus. Martha was so annoyed, she finally spoke to Jesus about it. Luke 10:38-40.
Jesus looked kindly at Martha. He knew that because she loved Him, she wanted to prepare something special for Him and the disciples.
But Jesus also knew that listening to Him was really more important than fixing food. He would have been pleased with a very simple meal that wouldn’t take so much time to prepare. Then Martha could have listened to Him, too. What did He say? Luke 10:41, 42.
Can people, even children, get so busy with work and play that they don’t take time to spend with Jesus? If we don’t take time, do we miss something much more important than work and play?
Lazarus, Jesus’ special friend, became very sick. What did his sisters do? John 11:3.
The disciples were surprised that Jesus didn’t go at once to heal Lazarus. But they were more surprised two days later. Why? John 11:4-8, 14, 16.
Every day Jesus always followed His heavenly Father’s plans, and He knew that He was safe as long as He did that. When they got near Bethany, first Martha, and then Mary went to meet Jesus. As they walked to the grave, the two sisters and their friends were weeping. Jesus wept, too. John 11:17-38.
Jesus was weeping for two reasons. He loved Mary and Martha and He felt sorry for them. He also loved the other Jews who were there mourning. He knew that some of them were just pretending, and that they would soon be helping to plan a way to kill Him. But they went with the others to the tomb, and they watched as Jesus did a miracle that absolutely proved that He was the Son of God. John 11:39-44.
What a wonderful miracle! Now no one could ever doubt who Jesus was. Many of the people who were there that day chose to believe in Him. But who hated Jesus even more? John 11:45-48, 53, 57.
Only Jesus knew that the Passover that year would be the most important one that had ever been celebrated. Jesus, the true Lamb of God, would die a terrible death in our place, so we can live forever. John 3:16.
Simon was a Pharisee who lived in the same village in which Lazarus and his sisters lived. Jesus had healed Simon of the terrible disease of leprosy, and he had become one of His followers. But Simon didn’t know Jesus as his Savior from sin. In fact, Simon didn’t think of himself as a sinner.
After Jesus raised Lazarus to life, Simon had a feast for Jesus as a way to thank Him for healing him of leprosy. He invited many important people, and Lazarus was a special guest. John 12:1, 2.
As they were eating, the wonderful smell of a very special, expensive perfume suddenly filled the air. “Where is the smell coming from?” everyone wondered. “Who has spent so much money?” Soon people were whispering to each other, “It’s Mary, the sister of Lazarus. She has been kneeling at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him and weeping. She broke the perfume bottle, and poured it on His head and on His feet.” John 12:3.
It was true. Mary was thinking about the many times that Jesus had forgiven her and helped her leave Satan’s kingdom. She had heard Jesus talk about dying; and by saving money that she really needed, she had bought the perfume to be put on His body after He died. But now people were talking about making Jesus king. She wanted to be the first to honor Him, and she hadn’t even thought about everyone’s knowing what she was doing. Now as she heard Jesus’ disciples talking, she was very embarrassed. Besides, what would Martha say? John 12:4-6.
Simon the Pharisee was also thinking unkind thoughts. But when Jesus told a story about being thankful, Simon realized three things—One, that Jesus was reading his thoughts; Two, that Mary loved Jesus much more than he did; Three, that he was a very proud sinner. Luke 7:39-47.
We are all sinners. But unless we know that we are and we ask Jesus to forgive us, we are still in Satan’s kingdom. When Jesus turned and spoke to Mary, she was more thankful than ever for His forgiveness and His love. Luke 7:48-50.
Jesus was still in Bethany on the first Sunday after Simon’s feast, and there was a big crowd of people there, too. Most of them had gone there to see Jesus, as well as Lazarus, who had been raised from death. Many others were going to the Passover in Jerusalem, and they, too, joined the crowd around Jesus.
What did Jesus ask two of His disciples to do? Luke 19:29-34.
Riding a donkey into Jerusalem was what the kings of Israel used to do. And one of the prophets had said that the Messiah would do that, too. Zechariah 9:9.
Was Jesus finally letting people know that He was the true King? How exciting! Luke 19:35-38.
For three and a half years, Jesus had been teaching and healing people. He had been showing people what our loving heavenly Father is like. He proved that He was the Son of God, as well as the Son of man; and He still is. He was the promised Messiah, the true Lamb of God. In just a few days, He would die in our place, so we can live forever with Him. But still no one really understood that.
Now the people around Jesus were shouting for joy as He rode toward Jerusalem on the young donkey. Before this, Jesus had not let people treat Him as a king. That would have given the Romans and the Jews a reason to put Him to death before it was time for Him to die. But now that time had come.
By riding into Jerusalem as a king, everyone attending the Passover would know about Him. And because His death that very week would be just as the prophets had said, many would study those prophecies and accept Him as the real Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for them—and for us. 1 Corinthians 5:7.
When the crowd reached the top of the Mount of Olives, they stopped. Across on the next hill was Jerusalem, and the people stood quietly as they looked at the beautiful temple. Then they looked at Jesus, and suddenly everything changed. They saw tears in His eyes. He was weeping! Why? Luke 19:41-44.
Jesus loved His people. They had waited for hundreds of years for the promised Messiah, and now He had come. But He wasn’t the kind of Messiah they wanted.
The Jewish leaders even tried to break up the crowd that was with Jesus. And while they were arguing, Jesus quietly left and went to the temple. He looked around for a short time, and then He and His disciples went back to Bethany. Mark 11:11.
When Jesus went back to the temple Monday morning, He found the same terrible things going on that He had found at the Passover three years before. And once more, He drove out the moneychangers and animal sellers. The priests and rulers ran away, too, even though they had thought they would never do that again. Mark 11:15–17.
The next day, Jesus taught at the temple again. People crowded into the temple courts to hear Him. Priests and Pharisees were there, too. They listened as he spoke to the crowd of people, but they didn’t like what He said about them. Matthew 23:13-34.
How discouraged Jesus could have been! What did He say before He left the inner court of the Temple? Matthew 23:37-38.
Jesus was sad that the leaders had rejected Him. But something happened before He left the temple that day that made Him happy. Some Greeks in the outer court said they wanted to see Him. John 12:20, 21.
Only Jews were allowed in the inner court of the temple. Others had to worship in the outer courts. So Jesus gladly went out there to talk to those Greeks. He knew that before the week was finished, they would hear terrible lies about Him and see Him die a horrible death. They must understand why He had come to our world and why He had to die.
Jesus remembered that when He was born, wise men came from the east to worship Him. Now, as He was about to die for our world, people had come from the west to learn about Him. Jesus knew that before our world ends, millions of people from every part of the world will know about Him and choose to belong to His kingdom.
After Jesus sadly said to the priests and rulers, “Your house is left to you desolate,” He never went to the temple again. But as He left it forever that Tuesday afternoon, one of his disciples reminded Him of the temple’s huge stones and its beauty. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, but what did Jesus say would happen to it? Mark 13:1, 2.
The disciples were shocked. How could that possibly happen? Later, when they were away from the crowd, they asked Jesus about it. They were sitting on the Mount of Olives; and just across a valley on the opposite hills, they could see Jerusalem and the temple. They wondered when would they be destroyed.
Many of Jesus’ answers are in Matthew 24. It tells about Jerusalem’s being destroyed, and how Jesus’ followers could be safe when that would happen. And it did happen about 40 years later when a Roman army came and destroyed both the city and the temple. But because Jesus had told the Christians what to do, they all left the city before it was destroyed. Matthew 24:15-20.
Jerusalem was built again, but not the temple.
Jesus also told about the end of the world and some important warning signs to watch for. He said there would be wars, famines, and earthquakes. Many people would disobey the laws, and they would cause a lot of wickedness. Also, many wouldn’t love others much anymore. They would be like people were before God destroyed them with the great flood. Matthew 24:7, 12, 38, 39.
Another sign that Jesus said would come was false prophets, who will deceive many people. He also warned that there will be false Christs. And near the end, Satan himself will pretend to be Jesus. Matthew 24:24, 2 Corinthians 11:14.
Jesus said that no one would know the exact time that He will come. Matthew 24:42. But He told about another sign that will tell us when His coming is very near. Read it in Matthew 24:14.
When Jesus finally comes, will it be a secret, or will everybody see Him? Matthew 24:27; Revelation 1:7.
All over the world, people who truly believe the Bible and love Jesus are telling others about Him and that He is coming back soon.
When He comes, how will those feel who have chosen to love, trust, and obey Him? Isaiah 25:9.
How will those feel who chose to stay in Satan’s kingdom? Revelation 6:15, 16.
Which kingdom are you choosing to be in?
How can you be more like Mary and spend more special time with Jesus? How can you be more helpful around your house, like Martha was? Both are very important, but we must never become so busy—even helping people—that we have no time to spend with Jesus.
The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead showed very clearly that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. How did this miracle show what will happen to all those who love Jesus, but have died before He comes back again? John 5:28, 29.
Did Mary buy the perfume to make Jesus want to love her, or because she loved Him so much? We want to live for Jesus, and be like Him, because He already loves us so much. 1 John 4:19.
Would you have been excited, too? But think about something else: Jesus, who made our world and really owned everything in it, was so poor when He became a human, that He had to depend on other people to help Him. He even had to borrow the donkey.
Sometimes we don’t want to admit that we are wrong, even when we know we are. How do you naturally feel when someone tells you that you have done something wrong? Are you happy, or angry, or do you make excuses? How should you respond? Proverbs 8:33.
Every day we each make choices. Tell about the choices you are making that show that you are choosing Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus is coming again soon, as He promised, and we want to be ready.
One of the most important choices you can make is to spend time every day studying your Bible and talking with Jesus. This will help you be ready for Jesus’ soon coming. Do you want to make this one of your habits?