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Lesson 8: The Final Journey *

Introduction: Think about the times when you were coming up to the deadline for an unpleasant or very difficult task. How did you react during those last few "crunch days?" For some people, the pressure helps them to focus. For others, the pressure interferes with their focus. Jesus is coming down to the last week of His life here on earth. This week we look at stories which reveal His focus. Let's dive in!

  1. Dread


    1. Read Mark 10:32. Get this picture in your mind. Jesus is walking ahead. The disciples and the crowd have this feeling of astonishment and fear. What do you think caused this feeling? (It must have been Jesus' manner, what was in His face. Compare Isaiah 50:7.)


    2. Read Mark 10:33-34. Were the disciples and the crowd right to have a feeling of dread and fear? (Jesus is making His last journey on earth. He has just about a week until His death.)


      1. If you knew that you were going to face terrible pain and death a week from now, how would your face look?


      2. Why is Jesus telling His disciples this? (He cares about them. He is(again) warning them of what is ahead. He is also giving them hope.)


  2. Position


    1. Read Mark 10:35-37. Is it possible that James and John had not been listening and just picked up the "Three days later He will rise" part of what Jesus said?


      1. What do you think of their request?


      2. Put your life in this story. Jesus came to serve and die painfully on our behalf. As His followers, what kind of requests do we present to Him?


      3. There is a very popular preacher on television whose messages I generally enjoy. I have heard him say that he prays that God will move the traffic out of his way and God will help him find a parking space - and God does. On one hand I like to think of God helping me in the little things of life. On the other hand, when we consider Jesus' experience here, this seems self-centered - like the requests of James and John. What do you think about praying for minor, perhaps selfish things like this?


    2. Read Jesus' response in Mark 10:38-39. Did these disciples understand what they were requesting? (Jesus says they did not.)


    3. Read Mark 10:41-45. How do the best parking spaces and cleared traffic fit into this? Or, is Jesus speaking only of our relationships with others in our church?


  3. Glorious Entry


    1. Read Mark 11:1-3. The group is now approaching the place where Jesus said ( Mark 10:33-34) He was going to die. How do you think the disciples feel?


    2. Read Zechariah 9:9. If they knew this prophecy, what would be going through their minds?


    3. Remember that Jesus is coming to Jerusalem for Passover. What did Passover commemorate? (The miraculous deliverance of the Jews from slavery at the hands of mighty Egypt. Exodus 12:26-27.)


      1. As the average Jew contemplated Passover, what do you think was on his mind? (God should do the same for them now - deliver them from mighty Rome.)


    4. Read Mark 11:7-10. "Hosanna" means "Save now." What would be the "coming kingdom of our father David?" (The David/Solomon era represented the time when Israel was at its peak in power and territory. God had said that He would restore the Kingdom of David. Amos 9:11. This was part of the popular Messianic hope of the people.)


    5. Read 2 Kings 9:13. With this insight into history, what is Jesus doing? (He is approaching Jerusalem as a King.)


    6. Read John 12:12-13. Notice that Jesus is letting the people call Him "the King of Israel."


    7. Friends, put all the pieces together. At the time of Passover, a time when thoughts turn to deliverance from foreign powers, Jesus enters like a king and lets the people welcome Him as King. Why is He doing this? (The Bible Exposition Commentary has it right: Jesus is declaring Himself to be Israel's King and Messiah.)


      1. Let's read John 12:17 - which immediately follows this triumphal entry. Who is the core of this crowd? (The Galileans who saw Him raise Lazarus to life.)


      2. What effect did the resurrection of Lazarus have on the Jewish leaders? (You will recall that John 11:45-53 recounts that this miracle caused a convening of the Jewish Sanhedrin where it was decided that they must kill Jesus. This brings us to the second reason why Jesus allowed this royal entry. As the Passover Lamb, He is to die at Passover. This little demonstration lets the Jewish leaders know that the time to act to stop Jesus is right now!)

    1. Read Mark 11:11. Jesus enters in triumph, takes a look around, and then goes back home to Bethany. Why? (He probably would have been killed if He stayed overnight in Jerusalem.)


  1. Figs and Frauds


    1. Read Mark 11:12-14. How would you rate Jesus' ecological awareness? Is He sufficiently concerned about the plants and the trees?


      1. Mark has told us in the past that Jesus knew the thoughts of others ( Mark 2:8), why does He have to go up to this tree to see if it has fruit? Why doesn't He just automatically know it?


      2. Perhaps more to the point, the text says that it is not the season for fruit. Why is Jesus expecting fruit?


        1. Why is He punishing the tree for not having fruit when it is not supposed to have fruit? (I'm no expert on figs, but commentaries that I read said that the appearance of leaves on this tree meant that "early figs" should be present. The IVP Commentary reports that "if only leaves appeared without the early figs, the tree would bear no figs that year - early or late.")


          1. What, then, is the fault of the tree? (Making the pretense of having figs without really having any.)


    2. Read Mark 11:19-20. Why didn't Jesus just bless this tree with fruit instead of killing it?


    3. Read Luke 13:6-9. Jesus often spoke in parables. What do you think, is the fig tree a parable or is Jesus really mad about not getting any figs to eat? (The disciples probably remembered this event-that Jesus had previously used a fig tree in a parable.)


      1. How many years had Jesus been in His ministry now? (Three years - the same as in this parable about the fig tree.)


      2. Who or what do you think the fig tree represents? (In between these texts in Mark on the fig tree is the account of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple. ( Mark 11:15-18) Just before the story of the fig tree we see Jesus considering the temple. ( Mark 11:11) By the position of the fig tree story, Mark is telling us that the fig tree is a parable of Jerusalem and the temple. In the three years of Jesus' ministry, they have yet to bear the fruit of recognizing the Messiah within their midst.)


    4. Read Mark 11:22-24. Immediately after Peter points out the withered fig tree, Jesus starts talking about the power of faith-based prayer to move mountains. Do we have the power to destroy forests (or just trees) by prayer? Do we have the power to start moving mountains around by prayer? Could we become an ecologist's worst nightmare through prayer?


      1. Move your clocks ahead by five years in the lives of the disciples. What was the biggest problem that they faced? (The Jewish leadership.)


      2. If the fig tree represents Jerusalem, the temple, and the unbelieving Jewish leadership, what do you think the mountain represents? (The Jewish leadership is the "mountain" standing in the way of the future ministry of the disciples. Jesus is not talking about ecology, He is not talking about fig trees, and He is not talking about literal mountains. He is teaching the disciples to rely on faith-based prayer when they face the obstacles of the unbelieving, persecuting Jewish leadership. This is one of His final lessons for them.)


    5. Friend, what fig trees and mountains do you have in your life? Prayer is the answer!


  2. Next week: Last Days in the Temple.


* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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