Summary: In the days before he arrived at Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus taught his disciples some very important lessons.
Values of the Kingdom
What Jesus Taught in His Last Days on Earth
Sunday, March 13, 2005; Wayside Community Church; Grove City, PA
Growing up in the circles of Evangelical Christianity, we never observed the season right before Easter known in Orthodox circles as Lent. We had family and friends who did, however, and we watched in curiosity as they gave up various bad habits or food items. I didn’t really see the point. After Easter, they went right back to those same habits and foods that they had said before was bad for them.
But recently, in my own exploration of church history and experience, I have been thinking about Lent and its value to us today and it got me thinking about several other things. Primarily, this question and how it relates to Jesus’ last days on this earth…
If you knew that you were going to die in 2 weeks, what would you want to tell your children? Yea, I know, they can be morbid thoughts. But let’s say that you, like Jesus, could see into the future, and you knew that you were going to be killed, come back to life 3 days later, and things would never be the same. However, you really don’t even have 2 weeks, because in a little over a week and a half, you would be arrested and placed in custody until your death. What would you like your loved ones, your friends, to know? What lessons would you teach your children?
Those thoughts were bouncing around in my head this week as I considered what Jesus was teaching and doing the last few days before they arrived in Jerusalem for the last time. Next Sunday, we will find Jesus riding triumphantly into Jerusalem, people all around shouting, dancing, and singing, “Hosanna!” And after that day, the last week of Jesus’ life gets very hectic. Lots of things going down. Scenes flashing by at a rapid pace. It is a Feast, the Jewish Passover, and the city is filled with families reuniting, children racing around the houses, cousins and friends getting reacquainted.
It reminds me of a recent trip back home to Oklahoma. In the 22 years of our marriage, we have never been to Grandma and Grandpa’s house without someone else in the family coming into town to see us as well. Some cousin, or Uncle, or friend comes in to see the wayfaring pilgrims! So it’s always lots of people, not enough time to see all your friends and family, and meals together every day. On this particular trip, Mom, as usual, had a big list of things that needed doing. (Moms just like to see their boys workin’!) So Dad and I put in a Pergo “hardwood” floor in the family room, we repaired the back porch, we worked outside around the pond, we changed the oil in the car, and in between all that, we took time out to eat meals, go to church, see family, take pictures, etc, etc. As usual, it was on the way back home before I thought much about my children. I had heard them, fed them, corrected them all weekend, but in the middle of all the festivities, hadn’t been able to spend any productive time with them. I sincerely doubt I taught them much at all that week.
Jesus’ last week was like that, so I got to thinking about what he taught his disciples as they were making their way to Jerusalem. As they started out for Jerusalem, Jesus taught them some powerful lessons. You’ll find passages about this in Matthew chapter 20, Mark chapter 10, and Luke chapter 19. Today, I’m going to read from both Mark and Luke passages.
Now there are several parables, stories and accounts in these chapters, and there may be more than one application from most of these. But I want to draw your attention to several things as we focus in on the trip to Jerusalem. Particularly, we need to look at earthly values versus values of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus recognized that his disciples still had priorities and values in their lives that did not line up with Kingdom values and priorities. In Mark 10:17-31, we find an account of a rich, young ruler coming to Jesus in search of some answers.
1. We value Wealth, but God values Sacrifice
The disciples listened in on this conversation Jesus had with the rich ruler. And they were amazed to hear Jesus saying, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The prevailing philosophy of that day was the idea that if you were favored by God, you would be blessed financially. So there was great value on wealth, and anyone wealthy must be in very good favor with God. Thus, their question, “Who then can be saved?” They were incredulous. Peter followed that up, still with amazement and a touch of disbelief at what he’d just heard and said, “We have left everything to follow you!”