What Didn’t Happen When Jesus Died?

What didn’t happen when Jesus died? That seems like an odd question, doesn’t it? Hopefully it catches your interest enough to keep reading.

when Jesus died - three crosses

Do you know why the timing of Jesus’ death is so significant?  I’m not talking about the exact date and time – that’s a topic for another day.  I’m talking about the length of His ministry on earth.  Partly because everything had to be accomplished – and partly for another reason.

We celebrate Jesus’ birth – but not on the right day.  In fact, not even at the right time of the year.

We don’t celebrate the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  Although we know it’s about three years,

We do celebrate Jesus’ death – Good Friday,
And we do celebrate Easter – the day Jesus rose from the dead.
In some denominations the day Jesus ascended to Heaven seems to be more important than others.

But, do we talk about why the length of Jesus ministry was the length it was?

Everything had to be accomplished when Jesus died.

Starting with His birth, the image at the top, from Isaiah 9:6 is one of many, many Old Testament prophecies to be fulfilled.

From The new topical text book: A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers, we see sixty five (yes, 65) of the prophecies about Jesus.  It’s not an exhaustive list – and I didn’t intend it to be that.  

Prophecies Respecting Christ

1. As the Son of God. Ps 2:7.
      Fulfilled. Lu 1:32, 35.
2. As the seed of the woman. Ge 3:15.
      Fulfilled. Ga 4:4.
3. As the seed of Abraham. Ge 17:7; 22:18.
      Fulfilled. Ga 3:16.
4. As the seed of Isaac. Ge 21:12.
      Fulfilled. Heb 11:17–19.
5. As the seed of David. Ps 132:11; Jer 23:5.
     Fulfilled. Ac 13:23; Ro 1:3.
6. His coming at a set time. Ge 49:10; Da 9:24, 25.
     Fulfilled. Lu 2:1.
7. His being born a virgin. Isa 7:14.
     Fulfilled. Mt 1:22, 23; Lu 2:7.
8. His being called Immanuel. Isa 7:14.
     Fulfilled. Mt 1:22, 23.
9. His being born in Bethlehem of Judea. Mic 5:2.
     Fulfilled. Mt 2:1; Lu 2:4–6.
10. Great persons coming to adore him. Ps 72:10.
     Fulfilled. Mt 2:1–11.
11. The slaying of the children of Bethlehem. Jer 31:15.
     Fulfilled. Mt 2:16–18.
12. His being called out of Egypt. Ho 11:1.
     Fulfilled. Mt 2:15.
13. His being preceded by John the Baptist. Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1.
     Fulfilled. Mt 3:1, 3; Lu 1:17.
14. His being anointed with the Spirit. Ps 45:7; Isa 11:2; 61:1.
     Fulfilled. Mt 3:16; Joh 3:34; Ac 10:38.
15. His being a Prophet like to Moses. De 18:15–18.
     Fulfilled. Ac 3:20–22.
16. His being a Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Ps 110:4.
     Fulfilled. Heb 5:5, 6.
17. His entering on his public ministry. Isa 61:1, 2.
     Fulfilled. Lu 4:16–21, 43.
18. His ministry commencing in Galilee. Isa 9:1, 2.
     Fulfilled. Mt 4:12–16, 23.
19. His entering publicly into Jerusalem. Zec 9:9.
     Fulfilled. Mt 21:1–5.
20. His coming into the temple. Hag 2:7, 9; Mal 3:1.
     Fulfilled. Mt 21:12; Lu 2:27–32; Joh 2:13–16.
21. His poverty. Isa 53:2.
     Fulfilled. Mr 6:3; Lu 9:58.
22. His meekness and want of ostentatious. Isa 42:2.
     Fulfilled. Mt 12:15, 16, 19.
23. His tenderness and compassion. Isa 40:11; 42:3.
     Fulfilled. Mt 12:15, 20; Heb 4:15.
24. His being without guile. Isa 53:9.
     Fulfilled. 1 Pe 2:22.
25. His zeal. Ps 69:9.
     Fulfilled. Joh 2:17.
26. His preaching by parables. Ps 78:2.
     Fulfilled. Mt 13:34, 35.
27. His working miracles. Isa 35:5, 6.
     Fulfilled. Mt 11:4–6; Joh 11:47.
28. His bearing reproach. Ps 22:6; 69:7, 9, 20.
     Fulfilled. Ro 15:3.
29. His being rejected by his brethren. Ps 69:8; Isa 63:3.
     Fulfilled. Joh 1:11; 7:3.
30. His being a stone of stumbling to the Jews. Isa 8:14.
     Fulfilled. Ro 9:32; 1 Pe 2:8.
31. His being hated by the Jews. Ps 69:4; Isa 49:7.
     Fulfilled. Joh 15:24, 25.
32. His being rejected by the Jewish rulers. Ps 118:22.
     Fulfilled. Mt 21:42; Joh 7:48.
33. That the Jews and Gentiles should combine against Him. Ps 2:1, 2.
     Fulfilled. Lu 23:12; Ac 4:27.
34. His being betrayed by a friend. Ps 41:9; 55:12–14.
     Fulfilled. Joh 13:18, 21.
35. His disciples forsaking him. Zec 13:7.
     Fulfilled. Mt 26:31, 56.
36. His being sold for thirty pieces silver. Zec 11:12.
     Fulfilled. Mt 26:15.
37. His price being given for the potter’s field. Zec 11:13.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:7.
38. The intensity of his sufferings. Ps 22:14, 15.
     Fulfilled. Lu 22:42, 44.
39. His sufferings being for others. Isa 53:4–6, 12; Da 9:26.
     Fulfilled. Mt 20:28.
40. His patience and silence under suffering. Isa 53:7.
     Fulfilled. Mt 26:63; 27:12–14.
41. His being smitten on the cheek. Mic 5:1.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:30.
42. His visage being marred. Isa 52:14; 53:3.
     Fulfilled. Joh 19:5.
43. His being spit on and scourged. Isa 50:6.
     Fulfilled. Mr 14:65; Joh 19:1.
44. His hands and feet being nailed to the cross. Ps 22:16.
     Fulfilled. Joh 19:18; 20:25.
45. His being forsaken by God. Ps 22:1.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:46.
46. His being mocked. Ps 22:7, 8.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:39–44.
47. Gall and vinegar being given him to drink. Ps 69:21.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:34.
48. His garments being parted, and lots cast for his vesture. Ps 22:18.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:35.
49. His being numbered with the transgressors. Isa 53:12.
     Fulfilled. Mr 15:28.
50. His intercession for His murderers. Isa 53:12.
     Fulfilled. Lu 23:34.
51. His Death. Isa 53:12.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:50.
52. That a bone of him should not be broken. Ex 12:46; Ps 34:20.
     Fulfilled. Joh 19:33, 36.
53. His being pierced. Zec 12:10.
     Fulfilled. Joh 19:34, 37.
54. His being buried with the rich. Isa 53:9.
     Fulfilled. Mt 27:57–60.
55. His flesh not seeing corruption. Ps 16:10.
     Fulfilled. Ac 2:31.
56. His resurrection. Ps 16:10; Isa 26:19.
     Fulfilled. Lu 24:6, 31, 34.
57. His ascension. Ps 68:18.
     Fulfilled. Lu 24:51; Ac 1:9.
58. His sitting on the right hand of God. Ps 110:1.
     Fulfilled. Heb 1:3.
59. His exercising the priestly office in heaven. Zec 6:13.
     Fulfilled. Ro 8:34.
60. His being the chief corner-stone of the Church. Isa 28:16.
     Fulfilled. 1 Pe 2:6, 7.
61. His being King in Zion. Ps 2:6.
     Fulfilled. Lu 1:32; Joh 18:33–37.
62. The conversion of the Gentiles to him. Isa 11:10; 42:1.
     Fulfilled. Mt 1:17, 21; Joh 10:16; Ac 10:45, 47.
63. His righteous government. Ps 45:6, 7.
     Fulfilled. Joh 5:30; Re 19:11.
64. His universal dominion. Ps 72:8; Da 7:14.
     Fulfilled. Php 2:9, 11.
65. The perpetuity of his kingdom. Isa 9:7; Da 7:14.
     Fulfilled. Lu 1:32, 33.   [1]Torrey, R. A. (2001). The new topical text book: A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software.

All of the things above had to be accomplished, as well as other prophecies that I didn’t include.  I just wanted to make the point that there were a lot of them.  Assuming you’re reading this from the web site, the links are active and you just need to hover the cursor over them, or click if it’s a longer passage and you want to read all of it.

In fact, I’m not even going to talk about them here.  It would be way too long.  And it’s not the main thing I wanted to talk about.

Well – almost not going to talk about them..

Something that wasn’t accomplished when Jesus died.  

We are going to talk about one of them –

32. His being rejected by the Jewish rulers. Ps 118:22.
     Fulfilled. Mt 21:42; Joh 7:48.

You see, there’s something we read about in the Gospels that wasn’t accomplished.  At least not on the schedule that was hoped for.

Normally, when the topic of Old Testament prophecy and what happened in the Gospels is covered, things like the passages listed above are what get talked about.  The prophecies were made.  This one person fulfilled them – so Jesus must be the Messiah.

That’s hard for some people to accept.  It can seem too “convenient”.  Too simple.  It’s not enough.  
For many people, with the lives we’ve had, it’s hard to “believe”, just because a list of things was done.
This is for you – the people who have a hard time.  Because it’s not just a list of things that could be checked off as “accomplished”.  It’s also about things that weren’t done.  Things that couldn’t be done.  I could go on here, but I don’t want to give it away too early – so please, read on, and see what I mean.  It’s probably something you haven’t considered before – at least I’ve never seen it.

Let’s start by looking at the verse from Psalms – as usual, with surrounding verses to get the full context –

Ps 118:17 I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
Ps 118:18 The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.

Ps 118:19 Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
Ps 118:20 This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
Ps 118:21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.

Ps 118:22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
Ps 118:23 the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Ps 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Ps 118:25 O LORD, save us;
O LORD, grant us success.
Ps 118:26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Ps 118:27 The LORD is God,
and he has made his light shine upon us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.

Ps 118:28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Ps 118:29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

In the midst of that, the referenced verse is –

Ps 118:22 The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;

It seems straightforward enough, with Jesus as the capstone / cornerstone (depending on your translation), and also as the stone the builders (the Jewish rulers) rejected.

If you’re not aware, the cornerstone is the single most important stone in a building – or at least it used to be. These days. with concrete, metal and glass – that whole concept may not even be known by young people anymore.  So, just to be sure we’re all on the same page, it was the first stone laid in a building – and everything else was built on / around that.

One thing that isn’t obvious at all is the thought behind the word rejected.  It’s a whole lot more intense than the way we normally use the word rejected today.  Here’s what the original Hebrew word was about at that time –

3988 מָאַס, מָאַס, נָמֵס [maʾac /maw·as/]. A primitive root; TWOT 1139, 1140; GK 4415 and 4416 and 5806; 76 occurrences; AV translates as “despise” 25 times, “refuse” nine times, “reject” 19 times, “abhor” four times, “become loathsome” once, “melt away” once, and translated miscellaneously 17 times. 1 to reject, despise, refuse. 1A (Qal). 1A1 to reject, refuse. 1A2 to despise. 1B (Niphal) to be rejected. 2 (Niphal) to flow, run.  [2]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

With the usage of the word within the Psalm, it’s the despise, abhor, refuse that applies to the feelings the Jewish leaders had for Jesus.  It’s not like we rejected a shipment of something because it was damaged, the way we’d use it today.  Obviously, that doesn’t apply, given that Jesus was perfect.  No, it’s the strongest usage of the word in the sense of they really, really, didn’t like Him – to the point they wanted to kill Him.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about – their desire to kill Jesus.  Something that wasn’t accomplished – on their schedule.

Right after Jesus was born

Mt 2:7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Mt 2:9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

Mt 2:13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
Mt 2:14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

While not a leader within the Temple, or probably even considered a Jewish leader by the Jewish people, Herod was technically, but not in practice – a Jew.  His plan to kill Jesus as a baby certainly would have put a crimp in God’s plan if this had succeeded.  But it didn’t.  Because it wasn’t time. Yet.  

The beginnings of “rejecting” Jesus

The Calling of Matthew

9:9-13 pp — Mk 2:14-17; Lk 5:27-32

Mt 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
Mt 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Mt 9:12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

No threats or plans to kill Jesus yet, but clearly, the Pharisees were not happy about what just happened.  It wasn’t just what Jesus said, although that was bad enough.  It’s what we don’t read that’s also important – apparently the Pharisees had no response – no comeback to refute what Jesus had just said about them.  For them to not have the last word would have been embarrassing.  The fact that the sinners and even the hated tax collectors were their would only have added salt to their wounds.

Associating Jesus with the devil

Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute

Mt 9:27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
Mt 9:28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.
Mt 9:29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.
Mt 9:32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
Mt 9:34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Again – no plans to kill Jesus yet.  However, there was a comeback, and it was clearly designed to turn the people against Jesus.  This time, the Pharisees were more prepared.  Sort of.  They had a quick answer.  But as often happens, the quick answer – given without thinking – wasn’t a good one.  As we” soon see, the Pharisees messed up big time with that answer.

Plotting to kill Jesus

Lord of the Sabbath

12:1-8 pp — Mk 2:23-28; Lk 6:1-5
12:9-14 pp — Mk 3:1-6; Lk 6:6-11

Mt 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
Mt 12:3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Mt 12:9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
Mt 12:11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Mt 12:13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

Yes – here it comes.  The Pharisees – who would have been considered the best of the best – want to kill Jesus.  They have gone, as we saw in Psalms, from just rejecting the cornerstone to now abhorring (to regard with extreme repugnance or aversion; detest utterly;loathe; abominate.) Jesus.  They continue to dig a deeper hole for themselves.  One that they should have known better than to ever even pick up the shovel in the first place.

Calling Jesus the devil – again

Jesus and Beelzebub

12:25-29 pp — Mk 3:23-27; Lk 11:17-22

Mt 12:22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
Mt 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
Mt 12:25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Mt 12:29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.
Mt 12:30 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Mt 12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

So – the Pharisees are going back to the devil again.  Unlike the first time, before they wanted to kill Jesus, this one now looks like an attempt to justify their decision – sort of like what we’d call justifiable homicide today.

But look what Jesus did.  Some might call this “doubling down” – responding the way He did.  I’d call it more like “quintupling down”, since he had not just one or two paragraphs in His response – but five.

Jesus is essentially telling them that if they want to take Him down – just try, because He’s ready for whatever they’ve got.

Had enough yet?

Just in case that wasn’t enough for the Pharisees, Matthew records this in the very next section of his Gospel –

The Sign of Jonah

12:39-42 pp — Lk 11:29-32
12:43-45 pp — Lk 11:24-26

Mt 12:38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”
Mt 12:39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.
Mt 12:43 “When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

The section header here asks – Had enough yet?   Apparently, some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law hadn’t yet had enough.  Actually, it’s more like they didn’t know when to stop.  It’s not “quit while you’re ahead”.  It should have been “quit before you get even further behind”.  

And – since they wanted more – Jesus gave it to them.

Matthew didn’t record the response from the Jewish leaders, if there even was a response – but it’s impossible to think it did anything to make them not want to kill Him.  If anything, the whole scenario made it even more of a “to do” item for them.  Unfortunately, when we pick up the shovel for someone else’s grave, all we do is dig our own.  And even when it should have been obvious to stop digging, somehow we just can’t.  We have to keep going.

Jesus calls the Pharisees “blind guides”

Clean and Unclean

15:1-20 pp — Mk 7:1-23

Mt 15:1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
Mt 15:3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ 6 he is not to ‘honor his father’’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
Mt 15:8 “ ‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Mt 15:9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”
Mt 15:10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’ ”
Mt 15:12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
Mt 15:13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
Mt 15:15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
Mt 15:16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’ ”

Keep in mind, the Jewish leaders already “rejected” Jesus.  They can’t stand Him.  Want to kill Him.  And He talks to them like this – calling them blind guides.  They’re supposed to be the one leading God’s people – and Jesus tells them they’re blind!  Can it get any worse?  We’ve got to be past the point of the justifiable homicide we looked at earlier.  This is going to be a crime of passion.

Jesus calls the Pharisees and Sadducees wicked and adulterous

The Demand for a Sign

16:1-12 pp — Mk 8:11-21

Mt 16:1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
Mt 16:2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

Can you kill someone more than once?

That’s a trick question – Jesus will die – but He will also be raised and ascend to Heaven.

My point was really to give an idea of just how furious the Jewish leaders would have been by this time.

Getting back to digging the hole – when we start with a wicked intent, all that digging does nothing but make us more and more blind to the truth.  More and more wicked.  Less and less able to remember the good that we (maybe) once knew and lived by.

Just in case …

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Mt 16:5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Mt 16:7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
Mt 16:8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The Jewish leaders certainly knew what Jesus was saying about them.  But here, Jesus wants to be sure His disciples also knew what He was saying about them.

Today, at least one of them would have been right on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and a bunch of other social media apps on their cell phones.  While those things didn’t exist back then (how did they survive?) gossip is as old as The Fall, so one can be pretty certain it didn’t take too long for the Jewish leaders to find out about this meeting.

Jesus reveals the level of hatred from the Jewish leaders

Jesus Predicts His Death

16:21-28 pp — Mk 8:31—9:1; Lk 9:22-27

Mt 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

The disciples didn’t get it – Peter, of course it was Peter, said it would never happen (at least not while he was around).  Even though they didn’t get it, Jesus was telling them just how bad this whole thing with the Jewish leaders had gotten.  The Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus.  But it didn’t happen.  Now, Jesus is saying He’s going to be killed by those very same Jewish leaders.  

The death thing – again

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

20:17-19 pp — Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-33

Mt 20:17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

They still didn’t get it, but Jesus explains the reality of the situation one more time.

The Jewish leaders have bad memories?  Or is it still blindness?

Jesus at the Temple

21:12-16 pp — Mk 11:15-18; Lk 19:45-47

Mt 21:12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’’”
Mt 21:14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
Mt 21:16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“ ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’ ?”
Mt 21:17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

The Jewish leaders were indignant – they were judging the children for what they were saying.  No doubt, also judging Jesus for causing it in the first place – and not putting a stop to it in the second place.

Then, they make the incredible mistake of asking Jesus about it.  Given the opportunity, he questions their memories of scripture.  Or was He questioning their ability to see what was right in front of their eyes.  Or maybe both.  

Jesus asked a question – 

“have you never read, 
“ ‘From the lips of children and infants 
you have ordained praise’ ?” 

That’s from Psalms.

Ps 8:2 From the lips of children and infants 
you have ordained praise 

Oops.  The Jewish leaders would certainly have read – and remembered – that quote.

In any case – Jesus was most certainly not endearing Himself to these Jewish leaders.  If their feelings about Jesus could have gotten any worse, they surely did.  This was a whole new audience, and it was in “their” house.  Notice – “their” in quotes – because it was the temple they were supposed to care for, but if it belonged to anyone, it was God.

However, it’s even worse than that.  Here’s some context for the quote Jesus made.  We’ll start with just the remainder of verse 2.

Ps 8:2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

Unfortunately, the 1984 translation of this verse isn’t really that good.  It’s quite different from other translations.  Let’s go to the ESV, since it’s readable in today’s terms, and still holds the original intent.

2  Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.  [3]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 8:2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Do you see what just happened?  Jesus is quoting the verse that says God is using babies and infants (the weak) to establish strength against His enemies.  Given the targeted audience, those enemies would be the Jewish leaders.  And while that may not be obvious from a quick reading by someone today, the Jewish leaders at the time had to have known that’s exactly what Jesus called them – enemies of God.

But they were too blinded by evil.  Too busy digging that hole to realize what was happening.  Too busy to stop and think.  Too busy to realize they were in fact fulfilling the very prophecies that they knew and had no doubt taught.  

But it’s worse.

Let’s look at all of Psalm 8.

Psalm 8

Ps 8:1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
above the heavens.

Ps 8:2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

Ps 8:3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

Ps 8:4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

Ps 8:5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

Ps 8:6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

Ps 8:7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

Ps 8:8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

Ps 8:9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

After all that – indeed – what are we that God is mindful of us?  After all the things God has done for us – even while we are His enemy.  But still, He gives us a way out of our condition – through the mouths of babies and infants.  A way out – through the weak.  And ultimately, a way out both through and because of the One these Jewish leaders are about to kill.  In fact, through the One the Jewish leaders must kill.

Time for the chief priests and elders to face Jesus

The Authority of Jesus Questioned

21:23-27 pp — Mk 11:27-33; Lk 20:1-8

Mt 21:23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
Mt 21:24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?”
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
Mt 21:27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

This is the first time Matthew records a meeting between this particular group and Jesus.  With them being part of the Jewish leadership – they get the same treatment.  If the chief priests and elders weren’t already fully supportive of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the law – they certainly would have been after this encounter.  The extreme animosity towards Jesus just continues to grow – both in terms of the number of people and the intensity of their feelings.

Fear, in the Chief Priests and the Pharisees – after yet another brutal truth is told about them

The Parable of the Tenants

21:33-46 pp — Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19

Mt 21:33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
Mt 21:35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
Mt 21:38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Mt 21:40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
Mt 21:41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
Mt 21:42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’ ?
Mt 21:43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Mt 21:45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

We now see the passage from Isaiah that we started with – told by none other than Jesus, talking about Himself.  And, oh yes, at the same time telling them that they are in serious trouble of losing the Kingdom of God – that it’s going to be taken away from them and given to someone else who will produce results.

Look at those last two verses again:

Mt 21:43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”
Mt 21:45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Remember that earlier Jesus quoted from Psalm 8.  He gave a warning that the Jewish leaders should remember that Psalm.  Also, that they should realize it was, in part, about them.  Now, we’ve gotten to the point where Jesus is telling them outright – in no uncertain terms – they they are in danger of going to Hell.

Maybe now they’ll stop digging that hole?

Nope.  We see they still want to kill Jesus – but things have gotten to the point where they’re afraid to actually do it,  They must be thinking they should have accomplished this back when they first wanted to kill Him.


The Greatest Commandment

22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31

Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So – the Pharisees thought they could do what the Sadducees could not.  Apparently forgetting they had also failed in all of their attempts to get Jesus to say something wrong.  And, that they had also been silenced before.

The result – Silent Pharisees.  Again.  By the first two – and the greatest – of the Ten Commandments.  (For a deeper look at the Ten Commandments, please see The main thing – and the ten Commandments.)

Situation reversed.  Jesus asks a question and receives – more silence

Whose Son Is the Christ?

22:41-46 pp — Mk 12:35-37; Lk 20:41-44

Mt 22:41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Christ ? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
Mt 22:43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
Mt 22:44 “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.” ’ 45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Knowing they were afraid, Jesus turns the tables and asks the Pharisees a question.  The Pharisees were silenced – again.  The Pharisees were not likely to be pleased with that either.  But don’t think for one second that the hole-digging stopped.

Jesus – taking it to the Jewish leaders

Seven Woes

23:1-7 pp — Mk 12:38, 39; Lk 20:45, 46
23:37-39 pp — Lk 13:34, 35

Mt 23:1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
Mt 23:5 “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’
Mt 23:8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Mt 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Mt 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Mt 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
Mt 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
Mt 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Mt 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Mt 23:29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
Mt 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.
Mt 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’’”

To put this in today’s terms, this is Jesus delivering a seven count indictment against the teachers of the law and Pharisees.  And, there are a few other charges thrown in before and after the seven counts.  And look what Jesus calls them – blind, hypocrites, snakes, vipers, Etc. And it was done in full view of lots of people. 

How long can this go on?  The Jewish leaders want to kill Jesus.  And now He seems to be egging them on.  Why is Jesus still alive?

Action from the chief priests and elders

The Plot Against Jesus

26:2-5 pp — Mk 14:1, 2; Lk 22:1, 2

Mt 26:1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
Mt 26:3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 5 “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”

Jesus disciples did know the Passover was two days away.  But while they had heard the words before about Jesus being put to death, they didn’t really understand it.  More like they were in denial, since they wanted an earthly King to restore Israel.

For the Jewish leaders at this little get-together – still fear, but action was still taking place.  Finally.

A collaborator / traitor offers to help

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

26:14-16 pp — Mk 14:10, 11; Lk 22:3-6

Mt 26:14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Finally – it looks like a chance for the kill might be taking shape.  But help is needed, in the form of someone from Jesus’ own internal circle.

It happens – the beginning of the end

Jesus Arrested

26:47-56 pp — Mk 14:43-50; Lk 22:47-53

Mt 26:47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Mt 26:50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
Mt 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Mt 26:55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Twice in that passage, Jesus talks about Old Testament Scripture having to be fulfilled.  That’s what the first section of this article was all about.

And, finally, we see Jesus being arrested.  Further, we see the arrest did not come (at least not directly) from the activities of the Pharisees, Sadducees, or teachers of the law.  Rather, it came from the chief priests and the elders.  We are not told of any behind the scenes discussions where the others may have encouraged or commanded action by the chief priests and the elders.   What we do know, however, is that all of them wanted Jesus dead.

What did we learn?

I’m going to stop here with the passages from Matthew.  We know Jesus death will come as a result of what we’ve seen above.  One could read the other Gospels as well, but there’s plenty in Matthew to be able to answer my question about the timing of Jesus’ death.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not looking at why it was the particular day that it turned out to be,

No – my question is about how, with all those feelings from all those people being directed at Jesus – how is it that He lived as long as He did?  Yes, Jesus ministry lasted a mere three years.  However, if the various members of the Jewish leadership had managed to make their desires for His death come true, it would have been much shorter.  Going back to Herod, if the king succeeded, Jesus’ ministry never would have happened.

Of course, the simple – almost too easy – answer, is that God is in control.

For someone having a hard time believing in God, let alone in God’s ability to control events – I can’t help but feel it’s really important to be able to go through what we just saw.  It shows the level of loathing the Jewish leadership had towards Jesus.  It shows they wanted to kill Him.  It shows they plotted together to figure out a way,

It also shows the truth of what Jesus said about the Jewish leaders.  The Pharisees, especially, would have known all the prophecies we read at the top of this article.  And yet they didn’t see what was coming.  They were blind to it.  They were too busy digging a hole for Jesus, so they never realized – in spite of everything they knew in their heads – that the hole would be for them.  Even when things started to fall into place for their plan, they apparently didn’t see this one coming either –

34. His being betrayed by a friend. Ps 41:9; 55:12–14.
     Fulfilled. Joh 13:18, 21.

Ps 41:4 I said, “O LORD, have mercy on me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
Ps 41:5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die and his name perish?”
Ps 41:6 Whenever one comes to see me,
he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander;
then he goes out and spreads it abroad.

Ps 41:7 All my enemies whisper together against me;
they imagine the worst for me, saying,
Ps 41:8 “A vile disease has beset him;
he will never get up from the place where he lies.”
Ps 41:9 Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me.

This is a Psalm from David, which is about him and his troubles after the issue with Bathsheba.
However, portions of it are also taken as a prophecy about the Messiah, with the last verse being the one pointed out in item #34.

Ps 55:12 If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were raising himself against me,
I could hide from him.
Ps 55:13 But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
Ps 55:14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
as we walked with the throng at the house of God.

This one is the same as the previous – with a dual meaning.

Since the verses we’ve look at from the NT were all from Matthew, let’s look at this passage from John –

Jesus Predicts His Betrayal

Jn 13:18 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’
Jn 13:19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. 20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”
Jn 13:21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.”
Jn 13:22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”
Jn 13:25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jn 13:26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
“What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, 28 but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Once again, we see Jesus talking about a prophecy to be fulfilled – which is the verses we just looked a from Psalms 41:9.

All of that points to the need for prophecies to be fulfilled.  That’s a two-part issue though.  

One is that Jesus does / says the things necessary for the prophecies to be fulfilled.  He has control over that.  For the most skeptical, it could be viewed of as a list Jesus developed prior to His ministry, and He just makes sure He catches all of them.

However, the other part is impossible for a person to control.  The bigger problem is that Jesus needs to be alive in His ministry to actually accomplish all of those prophecies.  No person can control whether we live or die over the course of three days, let alone three years.

Not being “just” a man though – Jesus does have a guarantee that He will be able to fulfill all the prophecies.  We see that in His questioning by Pilate –

Jesus Before Pilate

18:29-40 pp — Mt 27:11-18, 20-23; Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2, 3, 18-25

Jn 18:28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
Jn 18:30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
Jn 18:31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
Jn 18:33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jn 18:34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
Jn 18:35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jn 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Jn 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Jesus tells Pilate that if His kingdom were of this world, His servants would fight to keep Him from even being arrested.

Even before that, we read about the arrest in the garden, and this exchange with Jesus –

Jesus Arrested

26:47-56 pp — Mk 14:43-50; Lk 22:47-53

Mt 26:47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Mt 26:50 Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
Mt 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Mt 26:55 At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

This time, Jesus says there could be twelve legions of angels at His request – this whole thing could be stopped right now,  But then He goes on to say, again, that this all must happen to fulfill the prophecy.

If it hasn’t occurred to you yet, let me make it clear – all of these things happened while various people within the Jewish leadership wanted to kill Jesus.  But they never did.  Not for lack of desire, that’s for sure.  If anything, it seems that Jesus kept trying to push them harder and harder – to go beyond making clear what He thought of them – making them “reject” Him / abhor Him more and more over time.  And yet they were never able to make it happen.  They weren’t even able to bring any charges against Him.  Not until it was time.  Not until the prophecies had been fulfilled.  Not until God was ready for it to happen.  And even then, Jesus suffering and death occurred just as the prophecies said they would.

To think that all of this could happen – that Jesus could survive all that hatred and desire for His death – and that when death did come it was also as prophesied – is beyond belief if we’re talking about a normal human being.  It requires Divine intervention to pull all this off.  It’s hard enough to believe that all those Old Testament authors, who didn’t even know each other, could have written a story that was so complicated, covered so much time, was so specific in details.  It’s hard enough to write a book without having loose ends, or people thinking it was just too contrived – that it could never happen that way. And yet the OT is so much more complex – and it did happen.

Still – just based on listing the prophecies and their fulfillment, people don’t believe.
When we add the discussion above – showing just how impossible it would have been for a man to fake the fulfillment of those prophecies – it gets a lot harder.  Knowing that every piece of the Jewish leadership structure wanted Jesus dead makes it an even more impossible task.

So, when we look at both the things that did happen, and the things that didn’t happen, nothing short of sheer blindness could prevent us from seeing the truth – as  we see in one last passage from John, and one last prophecy from Isaiah –

The Jews Continue in Their Unbelief

Jn 12:37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Jn 12:39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
Jn 12:40 “He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
Jn 12:42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Jn 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
Jn 12:47 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”


Jesus’ ministry lasted as long as it did for (at least) two reasons.

1.  To allow the prophecies to be fulfilled.

2.  To provide clear evidence for us, even today, that this sequence of events, occurring over as long of a time as they did, is not humanly possible.  If someone wants to stay alive while someone’s trying to kill them – that person hides.  Jesus didn’t hide.  Jesus was right out their in public – even in the Jewish Temples – where He could have been arrested at any time.  But He wasn’t.  He wasn’t killed – wasn’t put in jail – wasn’t silenced in any way – until God Himself was ready for it to happen.

How about you – do you see?  


1Torrey, R. A. (2001). The new topical text book: A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software.
2Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
3The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 8:2). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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