Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts - Lesson 32

Jericho to Jerusalem (Part 1)

Passion Week in the life of Jesus includes his anointing in Bethany, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, cleansing of the temple, celebrating Passover, prayer and arrest in Gethsemane, crucifixion and resurrection.

Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts
Lesson 32
Watching Now
Jericho to Jerusalem (Part 1)

Passion Week

Part 1

I. Jericho to Jerusalem

A. Review

B. Reference to beginning of Mark 10

C. Marriage and divorce in Matthew 19 and I Corinthians 7

1. Forming a marriage

a. Leave and cleave

b. Become one flesh

2. Rupturing a marriage

a. Physical presence but sexual infidelity

b. Sexual fidelity but physical desertion

c. Other items equivalent in destructiveness?

D. Jesus blesses the little children

E. Luke on wealth and stewardship

1. Jesus and the rich young ruler [v. 22] – (18:18-30)

2. Zacchaeus’ conversion [v. 8] – (19:1-10)

3. The parable of the pounds [v. 23] – (19:11-27)

F. Jesus’ Last Week

1. Saturday: preparation for death – anointing at Bethany

2. Sunday: fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 – triumphal entry

3. Monday: threatened destruction of Israel – temple cleansing and fig tree (1)

4. Tuesday: threatened destruction of Israel – fig tree (2) and teaching in temple/Mount of Olives

5. Wednesday: the glory of the Lord departs

6. Thursday: substitutionary suffering – preparation for Passover, Last Supper and Gethsemane.

7. Friday: infinite atonement: trial(s), sentence and execution

8. Saturday:

9. Sunday: vindicating previous claims – resurrection

G. Jesus’ use of Psalm 110:1

1. Mark 12:35-37, Matthew 22:41-46, Luke 20:41-44

2. “Who else is above David?”

a. LORD = Yahweh

b. Lord = Adonai

c. David – king of Israel

H. The Olivet Discourse

1. "Signs," but the end is not yet (Matthew, Mark, Luke)

2. The desolating sacrilege [A.D. 70?] (Matthew, Mark)

3. Jerusalem surrounded by armies (Luke)

4. Great tribulation [church age?] (Matthew, Mark)

5. Times of Gentiles (Luke)

6. Second coming of Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke)

7. Command to alert faithfulness (Matthew, Mark, Luke)

I. Key Themes in John 12 – 17 ("The ground is level at the foot of the cross.")

1. Chapter 12: Shame before glory, suffering before triumph

2. Chapter 13: Servant leadership vs. authoritarianism

3. Chapters 14-16: Self-giving love as the ultimate expression of Christ's sustaining presence, through the Spirit, in the interim between his comings

4. Chapter 17: Unity of believers with triune God and with each other

J. Jesus' Farewell Discourse (John 14 – 16)

1. Themes

a. Introduction: "Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and me." (4:1)

b. Conclusion: "You may have peace in me despite trouble from the world." (16:33)

2. Jesus is going to the Father

a. prepare place/he is the way/Father in him. (4:2-14)

b. grief to joy/ask in his name. (16:17-32)

3. Jesus promises Paraclete

a. Spirit of truth to be with disciples. (4:15-21)

b. Spirit of truth to convict world and lead disciples to all truth. (16:5-16)

4. Jesus' disciples and the world

a. Jesus' revelation to disciples and not to world (4:22-31)

b. World's hatred and rejection of disciples, their testimony (15:18-16:4)

5. The vine and the branches

a. Abiding in Jesus/producing much fruit. (15:1-8)

b. Loving like Jesus, sacrificial self-giving. (15:9-17)

K. Jesus' Final Hours

1. Last Supper: significance

a. Past

b. Present

c. Future

2. Gethsemane: significance

a. Jesus' humanity

b. Jesus' relationship with the Father

  • Overview of the influences of the Persian, Greek and Roman Empires on the Jewish nation. 

  • A summary of the Jewish political and religious rulers and movements, and the tensions that arose between the Jews and the occupying Roman authorities.

  • Ancient philosophies and religious movements had a significant influence on peoples' beliefs and behavior in the first century. The influence of Rome and Greece was evident throughout the world. 

  • Religious groups like the Pharisees and Sadducees, and teachings of contemporary Judaism about the Messiah affected Jesus' teaching and ministry.


  • One of the major influences in the social structure in Israel during the first century was the relationship and interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Various Jewish groups had differing views on how they should interact among themselves and with Gentiles. (Dr. Blomberg did not provide us with the PowerPoint slides for this lecture.)

  • One of the major influences in the social structure in Israel during the first century was the relationship and interaction between Jews and Gentiles. Various Jewish groups had differing views on how they should interact among themselves and with Gentiles. (Dr. Blomberg did not provide us with the PowerPoint slides for this lecture.)

  • The Gospels are historically reliable documents. Some of the main arguments and pieces of evidence pointing to the historical reliability of the Gospels are given in this lecture.

  • Form criticism, or form history examines how tradition has changed and how it has stayed the same. 

  • The gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke have so many similarities that they are referred to as the "Synoptic Gospels." There is also material in each of these Gospels that make it distinctive from the other two.

  • It can be helpful to examine, from a literary perspective, the passages that record the encounters that Jesus had with Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman.

  • In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Mark, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the major themes of the book. The content of the book can be divided into the first 8 chapters that focus on the life and ministry of Jesus and the last 8 chapters that focus on His death and resurrection.

  • In order to understand the message of the Gospel of Matthew, it is helpful to understand who the author is, the approximate date it was written, the audience to whom it was written, and the possible sources on which Matthew relied when he was writing. Matthew begins by recording genealogy of Jesus and some of the events surrounding his infancy. Jesus' public ministry began with HIs baptism by John the Baptist, temptation in the wilderness and calling of the disciples. His preaching included the Sermon on the Mount and parables which Matthew grouped together in the Gospel.

  • Examining the outline and structure of the Gospel of Luke reveals the main points and the focus of Luke's Gospel and the book of Acts. Luke and Matthew have some similarities as well as some elements that are distinctive.

  • Much of the material of the Gospel of John is unique, compared to the other 3 Gospel accounts. Some of John's account alternates between recording a sign that Jesus performs with a discourse about a certain subject. Chapter 12 to the end of the Gospel covers the final days of Jesus' life on earth.

  • Some scholars belief that historical evidence supports the Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, some think the historical evidence supports the inauthenticity of the Gospel accounts, and some think that the historical evidence is irrelevant. The different conclusions are due mainly to different presuppositions. It is possible to propose a probable time line of Jesus' life.

  • The Gospel accounts of Jesus' birth and early years of life show how He accurately fulfilled specific OT prophecies made hundreds of years earlier, and how His life was intertwined with that of John the Baptist. The beginning of John's Gospel is a testimony to Jesus' nature as being both fully God and fully human.

  • Locations in present day Israel that are related to Jesus' infancy and the beginning of His public ministry.

  • John the Baptist began his ministry before Jesus's public ministry. For a while their public ministries overlapped, then Jesus conducted the remainder of His public ministry without John the Baptist on the scene.

  • Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana was one of the first miracles Jesus performed in His public ministry. He also had conversations with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and healed the nobleman's son.

  • The Sermon on the Mount is one of the main passages showing how Jesus defines the "Kingdom of God." He also calls the disciples, redefines the family, performs healings and exorcisms, and uses parables and pronouncements to teach about who God is and how He relates to humans.

  • Images of locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

  • The Sermon on the Mount shows how the teachings of the Kingdom of God relate to the OT Law. It also includes additional NT teachings and a model prayer.

  • Pictures of places in present day Israel related to Jesus' early Galilean ministry.

  • Understanding parables as a literary form helps us interpret them accurately. Jesus performed miracles in various contexts for specific purposes.

  • Locations in present day Israel related to parables Jesus said and places He performed miracles.

  • Jesus' ministry in Galilee took place in locations like Nazareth, Cana, the Sea of Galilee and other nearby towns and areas. As Jesus was departing from Galilee, he performed miracles and taught at specific places along the way.

  • One of the themes in John chapters 5-11 is how Jesus fulfills the Jewish festivals. He also uses metaphors, saying that he is the, “bread of life,” “light of the world,” “gate for the sheep” and others.

  • In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus gives a sermon on forgiveness and humility. 

  • Locations in present day Israel related to Jesus' ministry.

  • Does the Bible teach that we are to marry or that we are not to marry?

  • Passion Week in the life of Jesus includes his anointing in Bethany, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, cleansing of the temple, celebrating Passover, prayer and arrest in Gethsemane, crucifixion and resurrection.

  • Chronological order of the events of the Passion week of the ministry of Jesus.

  • The death and resurrection of Jesus are significant both historically and theologically.

  • Narration describing slide photographs of locations of events that took place during Passion Week.

  • Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Jewish Messiah. He was both fully God and fully man. Jesus taught about the kingdom of God and showed compassion to the people who were outcasts in society.

  • Acts was written as a continuation of the Gospel of Luke to record what the Holy Spirit was doing through the lives of followers of Christ in the early church. The gospel spread ethnically from Jews to Gentiles, and geographically from Jerusalem to the rest of the world.

  • Stephen challenged the Jewish leaders to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Paul's conversion was a key event in the history of the early church.

  • The discussion in the Jerusalem council in Acts chapter 15 was how Jews and gentiles could function together as the body of Christ.

  • Narrative describing pictures relating to places that were significant in the early church.

  • The book of Acts records events that happened during Paul's travels as he preached the gospel and established churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe.

This class studies issues of introduction for the four Gospels and Acts, and, using the English New Testament, provides a harmonistic study of the life of Christ with a focus on his essential teachings, the theology of evangelism, and the planting of the church as recorded in Acts.


Dr. Craig Blomberg

Introduction to the New Testament: Gospel and Acts


Jericho to Jerusalem (Part 1)

Lesson Transcript


This is the 32nd lecture in the online series of lectures for understanding the Gospels and Acts, in complement with the textbook by Craig Blomberg’s Jesus and The Gospels: an Introduction and Survey


At last, the synoptics converge in the Gospel of John to narrate the final road to the Cross, which will lead Jesus to his crucifixion and resurrection. The Gospels converge at this point with Jesus in the vicinity of Jericho. In route, he has been asked questions by followers, some apparently well intended while others trying to trap him. Beginning of Mark 10 and parallel, the question put forth, when is ever divorce allowed, comes; a debate that has already divided followers of the competing Pharisaic schools of thought (Hillel and Shammai). Followers of Shammai, particular conservative on most debated issues took their cue from Deuteronomy 24:1 which allowed divorce and even mandated divorce if there was sexual unfaithfulness. The School of Hillel on the other hand which was more liberal and granted permission for divorce in a wide variety of cases against the wife not conforming to the desires of her husband. It was still very much a one sided context in which men could only initiate the process. Jesus’ answer appears to differ little from the Shammai approach. Indeed, it is only Matthew chapter 19 with its longer account that in verse 9 allows for divorce in the case of ‘pomeia’ a term which has been greatly debated. Some wish to harmonize this text with Mark’s version in which no explicit exceptions are given at all to the probation on divorce. People have tried to give pomeia, a more specialized meaning, such as incest or premarital adultery or sexual behavior, so that one could view the marriage as not having taken place, according to God’s designs in the first place and thus more along the lines of the later Catholic Church which called it ‘annulment’ rather than divorce. 


On the other hand, pomeia, in Matthew was the broadest term for sexual sin in the Greek language. So it seems unlikely such a narrowing of meaning is in view. Contemporary application today, sometimes broadened it even further, however, to refer to the use of pornography, or even to visual or mental adultery, incompatibility whereas in the ancient Greek, the term was always used in the act of improper sexual behavior between two individuals who were not lawfully heterosexually and monogamously married. More interesting is the contemporary application in the subsequent teaching in 1st Corinthians 7 in which divorce is apparently seen as acceptable in the case of an unbelieving partner who wishes to abandon the marriage. In historic Protestantism the conventional explanation for this exception has been when one converts to Christianity, the other already existing marriage partner wants nothing whatsoever to do with this new religion and ultimate loyalty of the partner desires to dissolve the relationship and leave. There are a number of issues that have to be addressed at this juncture by ones who want to be faithful. On the one hand, there is the question on what each of these texts means in an individual context. There have been those who have tried to explain away, saying that 1st Corinthians 7 doesn’t permit divorce, but their expedience seems far less persuasive. 


More synthetically is the question of what should be distinctive about these two situations that would allow Jesus and Paul to grand the possibility of divorce under exceptional circumstances. If one goes back to the text of Genesis 2 that was cited in both Testaments and testamental Jewish literature, the religious constitution as it were for marriage, ‘one reason a man should leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and the two shall become one flesh.’ One takes leaving and cleaving together as equivalent to transfer one’s human allegiance from parents to spouse and becoming one flesh as the sexual confirmation of the relationship. Then it is intriguing, at least, and perhaps telling at most, that these two fundamental constituent elements of a marriage are best defined as the interpersonal loyalty normally demonstrated by physical and geographical presence and proximity or at least a desire for such; when travel, warfare or other such circumstances would require separation, and the unique lifelong sexual fidelity implied. And as equally intriguing and telling that the so-called exception clause in Matthew and Pauline privilege as church historians have come to name it in 1st Corinthians 7 represents the undoing of one or the other of these constituent elements of a marriage, such that ‘de facto’ partners are no longer married according to this basic definition anyway. The desire for physical presence and the ultimate interpersonal loyalty or the lifelong sexual fidelity has already been violated. 


All this leads to yet another question with original meaning and contemporary application and that is whether Jesus or Paul could have provided any other situation in which divorce would have been permissible. Those who reply in the negative, typically are with good intentions of remaining as faithful to Scripture as possible, correctly observing that neither these nor any other passages of Scripture explicitly allow for divorce or further circumstances. On the other hand, the question comes up, if Paul who is aware of Jesus’ teaching on the topic in 1st Corinthians 7:10 but goes on to add his own inspired additional application in verse 12. If Paul who did understood Jesus in Matthew 19 would be willing to give a comprehensive list and only one situation which divorce could have been legitimately allowed, then how could he believe God was inspiring him to add a second exception to the list or conversely if Paul was truly perceiving God’s inspiration, how could Jesus earlier and Matthew at a later date in recording also under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, his interpretation of Jesus’ words which may have more literally been along the lines of Mark 10, adding even the one exception clause that he did. 


This suggests that there are other circumstances in which divorce could be permitted and that both of the text of Matthew 19 and 1st Corinthians 7 are replying to situations specifically debated, but not meant to cover every possible scenario. Clearly that is the case with Matthew 19 as the very Jewish leaders that came to Jesus were trying to trap him rather than seeking genuine information and they do so by alluding to a Jewish debate. 1st Corinthians 7, on the other hand, deals with a situation in the mist of terms of Paul’s gentile mission that probably Jesus would not have confronted during his life time in and around Israel and vice versa. Harmonizing Matthew with Mark then is probably best accomplished by recognizing that Matthew is bringing out explicitly what is already implicit in Mark, sense all known Jewish and Roman schools of thought at the time of Christ allowed for, and indeed mandated, divorce in the case of sexual unfaithfulness. Rather than creating a longer list, therefore, in applying these principles in other times and places and somehow creating the impression that automatically in the case of physical abuse, for example, other kinds of abuse, life imprisonment, irreversible mental illness, etc. that divorce is always an object. 


It is better to deal with each situation on a case by case basis and ask if in that situation something has occurred that is equally de facto in destructiveness in having already created, if not by law but in reality, a failed marriage rather than just one having difficulty. And never counseling divorce parse but sharing the kinds of interpretive remarks that one has made in this lecture and then leaving the person contemplating divorce before God, to him alone he or she must answer to on judgment day. They should search their consciences and seek council from others they trust and know well. If indeed they have exhausted all resources for salvaging the marriage and as a leader or Christian Councilor promising to support such an individual should they then choose to make a decision to formally end a marriage under such circumstances. We tread on very difficult and very sensitive and very agonizing situation at this juncture. There is no question that in terms of making easy decisions, it is far more difficult simple to say that there shall be no divorce, whatsoever or no divorce beyond the situation clearly mandated in Scripture but it is not clear that these are as sensitive or even in implementing the actual principles that lead Jesus and Paul to state what they did in the particular context in the New Testament. 


On the other hand, we quickly stress that, at least, in the western world, the number of items that individuals, including Christians, have used as rationale for divorce have gone far beyond anything that could legitimately to be considered as equivalent destructiveness to infidelity, sexual infidelity or permanent abandonment. And therefore, one must find ways to walk that narrow way and stress equally as one council individuals moving toward marriage that the promises and vows they make to one another are indeed vows of live long fidelity and agreement to work out difficulties no matter how hard they get. We recognize that Jesus and Paul, unlike the other Jews of their day, never mandate divorce even for the situations in which they permit it. Those who want to marry need to understand what they promise each other without exception, no matter what the situation is they must find ways to work things out. Of course, this goes against so much modern western rights centered thought of ‘I want what I want when I want it’, but then so do all the rest of Christianity because it is about sacrificing ones rights for the sake of the other. 


The next question that confronts Jesus is dealt with far more summarily and involves far fewer exegetical conundrums in which Jesus blesses little children when others would have pulled them away from Christ. There is nothing in this text to warrant application to infant baptism because nothing in any of the Gospels describes either infant or baptism. But it a reminder of God’s concern for little children in societies where they are often not valued or not treated at least de facto as full pledged human beings. Now, the story of the rich young ruler which has troubled many people with a sensitive conscious; it should have troubled others with a less sensitive conscious. The question of course comes up, how wide spread should one apply the command Jesus gives to this young man to sell all that he had and distribute his possessions to the poor and come and follow him. It is perhaps to some relief to observe that there is no other single recorded instance elsewhere in the whole of Scripture with its divers teachings on giving, what today we would call the Lord’s work. No other similar command is ever issued. But as one commentator puts it, that provides ultimately relief only to the type of person whom God might want to issue such a command. It’s clear from the position of commands in the Synoptic accounts of this story that Jesus recognizes this as the obstacle to the young man coming and following him. 


And therefore, it is justifiable is say that whatever may form an obstacle to us, even the greatest obstacle to a person truly following Jesus as Lord in that which Jesus calls that person to give up. It’s interesting in Luke and it is only Luke 18 through appended comments and the miracle with Bartimaeus and related verses. Then in chapter 19:1-10, it describes the conversion of chief tax collector Zacchaeus to whom money and money gained by extortion would certainly have in many people’s minds presented an obstacle to truly following the command of God. To this individual, Jesus doesn’t issue any command at all but while dining together, Zacchaeus voluntarily announces that he will give half of his goods to the poor and those whom he has defrauded, he will restore four fold; a significant sacrifice to be sure but also significantly short of a hundred percent giving. Then immediately following in the Parable of the Talents, we have what western capitalists would like the most, a parable where servants are praised because they invested their master’s money to make more. The one servant who is condemned is precisely the one who failed to try to put his master’s money to work and make more. The theme of the parable is that all servants will have a day of reckoning and stand before their Master as all that was given to them was merely on loan and that’s worthy of the most shrewd stewardship possible.