• God so loved the world. Every person.

  • Hope in God. An anchor for the soul.

  • Let your light so shine.

  • Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

  • Even a single candle can make a difference in the darkness.

Anchor

User-friendly devotionals with audio

   

Directors’ Corner

News, writings and thoughts from TFI Directors

  • Jesus—His Life and Message: Moving Toward His Passion and Death

    The previous article addressed the end of Jesus’ public ministry. At this point in both the synoptic Gospels1 and the Gospel of John, the focus moves on to the events of His passion and death.

    Each of the synoptic Gospels makes reference to the upcoming Passover, the yearly festival which commemorates the Jewish people’s rescue from slavery in Egypt. One author explains:

    According to the Jewish calendar the celebration of Passover was celebrated on 14 or 15 [of the Jewish month of] Nisan and was followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was celebrated on 15–21 Nisan. These holidays were usually thought of as the week of Passover.2

    The synoptic Gospels state that in the days leading up to these celebrations, the Jewish leadership—the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes—were plotting to arrest and kill Jesus. In the book of Mark, we read:

    It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”3

    The Gospel of Luke says:

    Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.4

    The Gospel of Matthew states:

    Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.5

    The goal of Jesus’ opponents, the religious leadership, was to arrest Him and to have Him put to death. However, they were concerned that there could be a riot if He was arrested in public. Earlier in the Gospel of Mark, we are told of the religious leadership’s concerns about Jesus’ popularity with the people.

    The chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.6

    In the Gospel of Matthew, we are told that the meeting with the chief priests and elders of the people was held in the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas, who was high priest from AD 18 to 36. This indicates that high ecclesiastical officials as well as members of high-priestly families were present in the meeting. There were also important non-priestly elders of the people present. It’s quite likely that many, if not all, of these men were members of the Sanhedrin, which was a ruling body of 71 members, with the high priest as the chief officer.

    Realizing that it would be very risky for them to arrest Jesus during this period of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as there were so many people present in Jerusalem who had a favorable view of Jesus, they decided to arrest Him sometime after the feast was over. They said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”7

    (At this point in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the story cuts away to the woman who poured the ointment of nard on Jesus’ head.8 Both Gospels then return to the events of the betrayal of Jesus. In order to make this article easier to follow, the woman’s anointing of Jesus will be covered further on, after the account of Judas’ betrayal.)

    Though the religious leaders had decided not to arrest Jesus during the feast, the situation changed when one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas, approached them. The Gospel of Luke tells us:

    Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.9

    The Gospel of Matthew states:

    Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.10

    The Gospel of Mark explains that after Judas had received the money, he sought an opportunity to betray him.11

    As one of the twelve disciples, Judas was one of the people closest to Jesus. The twelve disciples were being trained by Jesus to carry on His mission after His death and resurrection. He had given them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.12 He told them,

    In the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.13

    Judas partook of Jesus’ teachings, and had witnessed Him heal the sick and raise the dead. As one of the twelve, it is likely that he went on the mission trips with the other disciples and thus experienced what the other disciples did. These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.14 Nevertheless, Judas made the decision to betray Jesus. According to the Gospels, his motive for doing so was greed. In the Gospel of John, we are given insight into Judas’ avarice.

    He was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.15

    Once he had received the money from the chief priests, he actively sought an opportunity to betray him.

    The Anointing in Bethany

    Going back to Matthew 26, verses 6–13, we read of events which happened in the house of Simon the leper.

    When Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table.16

    Bethany was a small town 3.2 km (around 2 miles) from Jerusalem. While Simon is referred to as “the leper,” by the time of Jesus’ visit he was no longer afflicted with the disease; as if he were, then no one would have entered his house. It’s possible that at some point before this visit, Jesus had healed him.

    Jesus was reclined at table, meaning that the meal was probably a special or festive occasion. People of that time and culture generally sat for meals; however, when they were entertaining special guests or when it was a celebratory occasion, they would eat in a reclined position. They would lie on their side with a cushion under their arm as they faced a table on which the food was placed.

    While He was reclining at table, an unnamed woman who had expensive ointment in an alabaster flask approached Him. Alabaster is a stone which came from Albastron in Egypt, and looks similar to marble. An alabaster flask would have a long neck, so that the oil or perfume would pour out slowly to prevent waste.

    The Gospel of Mark tells us that the expensive ointment was nard.

    While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.17 

    Nard, also called spikenard, was an expensive perfume made from the root of a plant which grows in the Himalayan mountains.

    When the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.”18

    The Gospel of Mark is more specific about the value of the nard as well as the disciples’ reaction.

    “This ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.19

    Three hundred denarii was a year’s wages for a working man—a lot of money. Since charitable giving was an obligation associated with pilgrimages to Jerusalem for festivals, the disciples felt that a better use of the ointment would have been to sell it and use the money for giving to the needy.

    But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”20

    It’s not clear to whom the disciples made their comment about the woman’s use of the nard. They were probably speaking among themselves, but Jesus was aware of how they felt about the woman’s actions. However, His view of her actions was completely different from theirs. What they considered to be a waste, Jesus considered a beautiful gesture.

    “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”21

    Jesus was aware that His time was growing short and that He would soon face death. It’s not clear from the text if the woman had a premonition that Jesus’ death was on the horizon and therefore poured the oil on His head, or if Jesus was interpreting her action based on His awareness of what was coming.

    “Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”22 

    Though Jesus knew that He was facing soon-coming death, He also knew that His death was not the end, but rather the beginning of a movement that would spread throughout the earth. As such, this woman’s actions would be remembered, as we are remembering them now.


    Note

    Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


    General Bibliography

    Bailey, Kenneth E. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008.

    Biven, David. New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus. Holland: En-Gedi Resource Center, 2007.

    Bock, Darrell L. Jesus According to Scripture. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 1: 1:1–9:50. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994.

    Bock, Darrell L. Luke Volume 2: 9:51–24:53. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1996.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Birth of the Messiah. New York: Doubleday, 1993.

    Brown, Raymond E. The Death of the Messiah. 2 vols. New York: Doubleday, 1994.

    Carson, D. A. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987.

    Charlesworth, James H., ed. Jesus’ Jewishness, Exploring the Place of Jesus Within Early Judaism. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997.

    Chilton, Bruce, and Craig A. Evans, eds. Authenticating the Activities of Jesus. Boston: Brill Academic, 1999.

    Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1993.

    Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.

    Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

    Evans, Craig A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27–16:20. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000.

    Evans, Craig A., and N. T. Wright. Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009.

    Flusser, David. Jesus. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1998.

    Flusser, David, and R. Steven Notely. The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus’ Genius. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

    Gnilka, Joachim. Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.

    Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997.

    Green, Joel B., and Scot McKnight, eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1992.

    Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

    Guelich, Robert A. World Biblical Commentary: Mark 1–8:26. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1989.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Jeremias, Joachim. Jesus and the Message of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002.

    Jeremias, Joachim. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971.

    Jeremias, Joachim. The Prayers of Jesus. Norwich: SCM Press, 1977.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 1. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume 2. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003.

    Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009.

    Lewis, Gordon R., and Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976.

    Manson, T. W. The Sayings of Jesus. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1957.

    Manson, T. W. The Teaching of Jesus. Cambridge: University Press, 1967.

    McKnight, Scot. Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

    Michaels, J. Ramsey. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

    Milne, Bruce. The Message of John. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995.

    Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.

    Morris, Leon. Luke. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1988.

    Ott, Ludwig. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1960.

    Pentecost, J. Dwight. The Words & Works of Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

    Sanders, E. P. Jesus and Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

    Sheen, Fulton J. Life of Christ. New York: Doubleday, 1958.

    Spangler, Ann, and Lois Tverberg. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.

    Stassen, Glen H., and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003.

    Stein, Robert H. Jesus the Messiah. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Stein, Robert H. Mark. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.

    Stein, Robert H. The Method and Message of Jesus’ Teachings. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.

    Stein, Robert H. The New American Commentary: Luke. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1992.

    Stott, John R. W. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978.

    Talbert, Charles H. Reading the Sermon on the Mount. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004.

    Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Christology of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.

    Witherington, Ben, III. The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2001.

    Wood, D. R. W., I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman, eds. New Bible Dictionary. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. After You Believe. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.

    Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

    Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone, Part 1. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

    Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

    Yancey, Philip. The Jesus I Never Knew. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

    Young, Brad H. Jesus the Jewish Theologian. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1995.


    1 Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

    2 Evans, World Biblical Commentary, 354.

    3 Mark 14:1–2.

    4 Luke 22:1–2. See also Matthew 26:3–5.

    5 Matthew 26:3–4.

    6 Mark 11:18.

    7 Matthew 26:5; also Mark 14:2.

    8 Matthew 26:6–13, Mark 14:3–9.

    9 Luke 22:3–6.

    10 Matthew 26:14–15. See also Mark 14:10–11.

    11 Mark 14:11.

    12 Matthew 10:1.

    13 Matthew 19:28.

    14 Matthew 10:5, 8.

    15 John 12:6.

    16 Matthew 26:6–7.

    17 Mark 14:3.

    18 Matthew 26:8–9.

    19 Mark 14:5.

    20 Matthew 26:10–11.

    21 Matthew 26:12.

    22 Matthew 26:13.

     

  • Apr 13 Jesus—His Life and Message: The End of His Public Ministry
  • Apr 10 The Way He Sees You
  • Apr 6 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Greeks
  • Mar 30 Easter Meditations
  • Mar 23 Jesus—His Life and Message: Final Judgment by the Son of Man
  • Mar 16 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Coming of the Son of Man (Part 2)
  • Mar 9 Jesus—His Life and Message: The Coming of the Son of Man (Part 1)
  • Mar 2 Jesus—His Life and Message: Prediction About the Temple (Part 3)
  • Feb 23 Jesus—His Life and Message: Prediction About the Temple (Part 2)
   

Beliefs

More…
  • Our fundamental beliefs are generally in accordance with those held by Christians the world over; we also embrace some untraditional doctrines. Our application of the foundation principle of God’s Law of Love that Jesus taught—to love God, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, which He said fulfills “all the law and the prophets”—is a defining feature of our lives and our faith.

Mission

More…
  • The primary goal of the Family International is to improve the quality of life of others by sharing the life-giving message of love, hope, and salvation found in God’s Word. We believe that God's love—applied on a practical level to our daily lives—is the key to resolving many of society's problems, even in the complex and fast-paced world of today. Through imparting the hope and guidance found in the Bible’s teachings, we believe that we can work toward building a better world—changing the world, one heart at a time.

Values

More…
  • Living “as unto Him”

    We put our faith into action and reach out to weary and troubled hearts, the disadvantaged, downtrodden, and needy, as unto Jesus.

About TFI

TFI Online is a community site for members of The Family International. TFI is an international Christian fellowship committed to sharing the message of God’s love with people around the globe.

Visit our main website if you would like to know more about what TFI is all about.

If you are a TFI member, sign in to view more content.

Latest Series

More…
Jesus—His Life and Message
Bedrock principles from the Gospels on which to build our lives.
Living Christianity
Applying the teachings of the Bible to our daily lives and decisions.
More Like Jesus
The development of Christlikeness in our lives.
Life Balance Check
Cultivating and nurturing a healthy, balanced life.