“The Last Days of Christ’s Ministry,” Friend, Apr. 1983, 48
Jerusalem was in a great uproar. People were crowding into the city for the most important feast of the year, the celebration of the Passover. Although it was celebrated every year, this particular feast was especially exciting. Everyone had heard about the great prophet Jesus and wondered if He was the promised Messiah and if He would deliver them from the Romans.
Many faithful people believed in Jesus and were anxiously awaiting His arrival at the feast. However, some were afraid for Him because Jewish leaders had vowed to put Him to death if He came.
Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus knew of the awful trials, suffering, and death that awaited Him. Even though burdened with this knowledge, His love and concern for others led Him to notice two blind men. When they pleaded with Jesus to restore their sight, He blessed them, and immediately they could see.
As Jesus continued toward Jerusalem, He paused on the hill overlooking the city and thought of the many times He had tried to teach the people. He wept because so many of them had not listened. Jesus loved the people and knew that they could be happy if they would only follow His teachings.
Turning to two of His Apostles, Jesus asked them to go into a nearby village. He said, “Ye shall find a colt [of an ass] tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither” (Luke 19:30).
When the Apostles brought the animal back, Jesus mounted the colt and rode it into Jerusalem. Some of the people knew that the prophet Zechariah had promised that the Messiah would come riding on a young ass. When they saw Jesus coming, they rushed out to meet Him. Many laid palm tree branches in His path; others put their coats down before Him. This was a custom reserved for kings. They were proclaiming Jesus as their king. They thought He had come to deliver them from the Romans, but He had far greater blessings to offer. He would make it possible for them to be freed from sin, to live after death, and to be able to return to Heavenly Father.
Jesus entered Jerusalem with hundreds of people following Him. They shouted, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). This greatly angered the Jewish leaders. If Jesus became the king, they would no longer have their powerful positions of leadership and wealth.
Later, when Jesus entered the temple, He saw the money changers cheating the people who came to make offerings. Jesus could not let such things happen in His Father’s house. He cast out the money changers and overthrew their tables, saying, “It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).
People in Jerusalem crowded into the temple to be near Jesus. They wanted to hear His teachings and have Him heal their sick. While He taught the people, Jesus’ enemies tried to trap Him with their questions. They hoped to get people to stop following Jesus.
Some Pharisees asked the Savior, “Is it lawful to give tribute [pay taxes] to Caesar, or not?” (Mark 12:14).
If Jesus said yes, the people would be angry, for they hated to pay taxes to Caesar. If Jesus said no, he would be imprisoned by the Romans for opposing the law.
Jesus answered by asking whose picture was on the money. When the Pharisees replied that it was Caesar’s, Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
Because Jesus’ enemies had been unsuccessful in trapping Him with that question, they asked Jesus another: “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matt. 22:36).
There were so many commandments in the law of Moses that no one had been able to decide which one was most important. Jesus’ enemies were prepared to argue with Him no matter which commandment He chose.
Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt. 22:37–38.)
He had given the perfect answer, but He had not finished teaching them. Jesus continued, “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39).
Even while these men were trying to trap Jesus, He loved them and was trying to teach them the gospel.