On the Way to Jerusalem

Please read: Matthew 19:16-20:19, Mark 10:17-34,
Luke 17:11-37, 18:1-14 & 18-34

While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a village, ten men with leprosy who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 
When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” 
And as they were going, they were cleansed. 
Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 
But Jesus responded and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they?  Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 
And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11-19 NASB

As Passover approached, Yeshua left the seclusion of Ephraim and headed back up towards Galilee to join the caravans of His countrymen making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This would be His last pilgrimage to Jerusalem. As He walked towards His destiny the crowds began to gather again, eager to see miracles and hear His teachings. Word quickly spread ahead to each village He approached that Yeshua was coming. As He approached a village on the border of Samaria and Galilee ten men with leprosy started crying out to Him. Yeshua responded to their cry by instructing them to act as though they had been healed by going to the priests to confirm their healing, and as they obeyed His word, they were all healed. Nine continued on to get the official declaration of cleanliness from the priest but one returned to Him giving thanks and glorifying God. This one was a Samaritan.

 Now when Yeshua was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with signs to be seen.  Nor will they say, ‘Look, here!’ or ‘There!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” Luke 17:20-21 TLV

It wasn’t just well-wishers who hear of Yeshua coming, the Pharisees in each village also heard the news and came out to test Him. They had been expecting Messiah to come and establish the Kingdom of God by defeating the Roman army and setting the Jews free from all their oppressors, even setting them up in authority over all the other nations. Yeshua had been doing much to commend Him as Messiah, but He had not shown any propensity to take up the sword and slay Romans, nor even to call out to God for a supernatural demolition of the Roman army. When was He going to do this? Yeshua’s idea of the kingdom of God was very different. As he would later say to Pilate: “my Kingdom is not of this world“. What Messiah had come to establish was not an earthly kingdom but a spiritual Kingdom set up in the heart by divine grace. He had not come to condemn and defeat human armies, but to conquer demons, sin and death. “If I, by the finger of God, cast out devils, then is the kingdom of God come among you” Matthew 12:28.

Then Yeshua said to the disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.  They will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go and chase after them.  For just as the lightning flashes from one part of the sky and lights up another part, so will the Son of Man be in His day.  But first He must suffer much and be rejected by this generation.   Luke 17:22-25 TLV

Yeshua turns now to His talmidim (probably after the departure of the Pharisees, as they do not appear again in what follows, and as the discourses themselves bear an unreserved character, wholly different from Luke 17:20), in order to give to them instructions in reference to the question raised by the Pharisees, and the questions that would torment their own hearts after He was crucified. Once again, Yeshua took opportunity to let His talmidim know that He was soon to depart from them and indeed, after His resurrection from having a physical presence on the earth would be for much longer, but He will one day return victorious and fulfil all the that Pharisees were now expecting Messiah to fulfil and so much more so than they could currently even imagine. His upcoming suffering and rejection would not be a failure or catastrophe but part of God’s good purposes.

“As it was in the days of Noah, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man.  They were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
“It was just the same in the days of Lot.  They were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building. But on the day Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed them all. Things will be the same on the day when the Son of Man is made fully known. 
“In that day, the one who is on the roof, and his possessions in the house, must not go down to take them away. In the same way, the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife!  Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life will preserve it.
“I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken along and the other left. There will be two women grinding at the same place. One will be taken and the other left.” 
“Where, Lord?” they replied.
And He said to them, “Where there is a corpse, there also will the vultures be gathered.”
Luke 17:26-37 TLV

In both the days of Noah and those of Sodom, the people had heard the cry to repent but rejected it and continued on with life as usual, oblivious to the destruction coming their way. The great vulture, well known in Syria, and can be seen in hundreds on the Plain of Gennesaret, is a hideous looking bird, equal to the eagle in size and strength. It acts as a scavenger to purify the earth from the putrid carcasses with which it would otherwise be encumbered. When Yeshua’s talmidim asked “where, Lord“, He replied ‘everywhere there is corruption (a corpse)’. The whole of humanity has been corrupted by sin that needs to be purified even as the great vultures purify the earth from rotting carcasses.

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great feast of God,  so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, both free and slaves, and small and great.” Revelation 19:17-18 NASB

Then Yeshua told them a parable to show that they should always pray and not be discouraged, He said, “There was a judge in a certain city who neither feared God nor respected people.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me justice against my opponent.’
“He was unwilling at the time. But afterward he said to himself, ‘Although I don’t fear God or respect people, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice so she won’t wear me out by her incessant coming.’”
Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge is saying.  Won’t God do justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He be slow to help them?  I tell you, He will quickly give them justice. But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:1-8 TLV

Only here and in Luke 18:9 does Yeshua give the explanation or point of the parable before the parable itself. “not be discouraged” = the Greek word means to give in through cowardice or give up from faint-heartedness. No matter what our circumstances, no matter how far away it feels like God is or how ineffective it feels like our prayers are, no matter how fierce the attack against us, never lose heart and give up, never give in to fear. Keep praying, keep seeking Him, keep standing firm in the faith and God will answer your cry.

 Then Yeshua spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, while holding others in contempt.  “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘O God, I thank You that I am not like other people—thieving, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and tithe on all that I get.’
“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, wouldn’t even lift his eyes toward heaven, but beat his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’   I tell you, this man, rather than the other, went down to his home declared righteous. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14 TLV

The ones Yeshua spoke this parable to were those whose attitude was in equal parts adulation of themself and slander of others. Yeshua exposed how who trusted in themselves did not trust in God.  The Pharisee thought he was praying to God, but Yeshua reveals that he was, in fact, just “praying this to himself.” In truly praying to God we trust in His righteousness, not our own, we rely on His mercy not our works.

And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”
And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” And looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
Mark 10:17-22 LSB

 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do so that I may obtain eternal life?” 
And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 
Then he said to Him, “Which ones?”
And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not give false testimony;  Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  
The young man said to Him, “All these I have kept; what am I still lacking?”  Jesus said to him, “If you want to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
Matthew 19:16-22 NASB

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 
And he said, “All these I have observed from my youth.” 
And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 
But when he heard this he became sad, for he was very rich.
Luke 18:18-23 TLV

Setting out on a journey, heading towards Jerusalem for Passover, towards Jerusalem for His crucifixion. This wealthy young Jewish man who held a position of authority in his community recognized in Yeshua One who taught with authority. He longed to know how to inherit eternal life. He felt in himself that he was lacking something but could not reason what that was. Not worrying what other leaders of the Jewish people might think of him, this rich young ruler ran up and knelt before Yeshua. He was humble.

Yeshua answered this Jew by pointing him to the commandments. Matthew has the young man asking “which ones“, not such a strange question when you remember that the Jews have derived 613 commandments from the Torah. Yeshua’s list of commandments come from the 10 God gave to Moses on Sinai: #6 Do not murder; #7 Do not commit adultery; #8 Do not steal; #9 Do not bear false witness; #5 Honor your father and mother.

Mark adds Do not defraud : this is not in the Ten Commandments, although the Mosaic law does speak of it. Leviticus 19:35 says, “You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin.” Deuteronomy 25:13–16 also demands that Jews not cheat in their weights and measures, ending with “For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God.” It may be that Yeshua used defrauding as an outworking of #10 Do not covet.

Matthew adds You shall love your neighbor as yourself from Leviticus 19:18b. Again, not one of the ten but Yeshua had already identified it as the second most important commandment of all (Luke 10:27). Still this young man could not identify his lack, for he had been a good Jewish boy, carefully obeying each of these commands on how to treat others even as his parents had taught him. It was a culture in which obeying parents was the norm and anything else was frowned upon by the whole community. Yeshua loved this humble, sincere young man so He exposed the idol in his heart, that which came between him and fulfilling the most important command, loving the Lord God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength: Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. It was a challenge and an invitation. Following Christ requires giving up everything, taking up our cross, losing our life in order to gain it, dying in order to live.

This wealthy young man recognised the powerful truth in Yeshua’s words to him, but was not yet willing to pay the price. His heart was still soft, he went away grieving. Now he knew his lack but could not overcome it, too much of his security and identity had become attached to his wealth.

And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  
When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 
And looking at them, Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Then Peter responded and said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” 
And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms on account of My name, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”
Matthew 19:23-30 NASB

And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
And the disciples were amazed at His words.
But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
And they were even more astonished, saying to Him, “Then who can be saved?”
Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, except one who will receive one hundred times as much now in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
Mark 10:23-31 LSB

Gazing at him, Yeshua said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter into the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Then those who heard said, “Then who can be saved?”
But Yeshua said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Then Peter said, “Look, we’ve left everything of our own to follow You.”
And Yeshua said to them, “Amen, I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much in this age; and in the olam ha-ba, eternal life.
” Luke 18:24-30 TLV

Peter spoke for all the disciples when he said “we’ve left everything to follow You” and Yeshua responds by assuring them that such a priority, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, will always be rewarded both in this life and with eternal life in the age to come. In Matthew we also see a promise just for the twelve apostles: when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. There is evidence later that James and John took this to heart and spent time imagining themselves on these thrones.

Matthew gives us the parable Yeshua then told to explain His comment that “many who are first will be last, and the last, first.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.  He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing.  About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.  So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.   When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.  Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Matthew 20:1-16 NIV

 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” Matthew 20:17-19 NIV

And they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will deliver Him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.” Mark 10:32-34 LSB

Then Yeshua took the twelve aside and said to them, “Look, we’re going up to Jerusalem, and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be carried out.  He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon.  After they have scourged Him, they will kill Him. Yet on the third day, He will rise again.”  
But they understood none of these things; this message was hidden from them, and they did not understand what He was saying.
Luke 18:31-34 TLV

This revelation was just for His closest friends, but even they were not yet able to grasp it. Even as He walked with determination towards this awful fate, Yeshua’s focus was on preparing His followers for the shock, confusion and grief they would endure when He was taken from them. It would not be the tragedy it appeared, but a direct fulfilment of prophesies written about Him and further proof that He truly is the famed Son of Man whom Daniel saw reigning at the right hand of the Father.

Reference List

1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Stern, David H. Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). 1998.
3. Holy Bible. New International Version. s.l. : Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.
4. —. New American Standard Bible. LaHabra, CA : The Lockman Foundation, 1995, 2020.
5. Messianic Jewish and Christian scholars. Holy Scriptures Tree of Life Version (TLV). s.l. : Baker Books.
6. The Legacy Standard Bible (LSB). LSB. [Online] https://read.lsbible.org/.
7. Bible Commentaries. Matthew 19:24. Bible Hub. [Online] [Cited: October 16th, 2023.] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/matthew/19-24.htm.
8. Hecht, Mendy. The 613 Commandments (Mitzvot). Chabad. [Online] [Cited: October 15th, 2023.] https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/756399/jewish/The-613-Commandments-Mitzvot.htm.
9. Bible Ref Editors. What does Mark 10:19 mean? Bible Reference. [Online] [Cited: October 15th, 2023.] https://www.bibleref.com/Mark/10/Mark-10-19.html#:~:text=In%20Mark%2C%20Jesus%20adds%20that%20the%20man%20must,weights%2C%20a%20just%20ephah%2C%20and%20a%20just%20hin.%22.

In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* Why do you think it was only the Samaritan who returned to give thanks for his healing from leprosy?
* How is the kingdom of God evident in your life and in your church?
* In what ways did Jesus explain to His disciples that He was about to be crucified and raise from the dead?