Matt. 16:21-28; Mark 10:32-45
This lesson deals with what is usually termed the closing phase of Jesus' ministry. From the standpoint of time, this covers only a very brief period. Nevertheless, during this period there were quite a number of important happenings; and these should be given very careful consideration. Several of these happenings will be discussed in this lesson, while others will have a place in the lesson that follows. However, if we are to grasp the full significance of these happenings, it will be necessary to review briefly some of Jesus' activities up to this point.
First, we should recall that the main purpose of Jesus' ministry was to lead people into the kingdom of God. Jesus proclaimed that this kingdom was "at hand" (Mark 1:15), and "in the midst of you" (Luke 17:20, margin); but He also recognized that something in addition to this proclamation was necessary. Somehow the people must be brought into the kingdom, so that they might experience the "life abundant" and participate in all the blessings prepared for them "from the foundation of the world." (See John 10:10 and Matt. 25:34.) Jesus, therefore, sought in every way possible to lead people into the kingdom; and the Gospels indicate how Jesus in His ministry took several well-defined steps to accomplish this important work. Note the following:
(1) Activities during the early Judean ministry.
During this short period, Jesus taught daily in the Temple courts, having as His main theme "the kingdom." Just what Jesus was seeking to accomplish is clearly shown in His conversation with Nicodemus. (See John 3:1-22.) But Jesus found that the people were not responding to His kingdom message; therefore, He decided to make a change in His plans—leaving Jerusalem and Judea and journeying northward into Galilee.
(2) Activities during the Galilean ministry.
Jesus' Galilean ministry covered a period of more than two years. During this time Jesus presented His teaching in many varied ways and made great efforts to lead people into the kingdom. But, as in the case of the Judean ministry, the results were disappointing. People listened to Jesus' teaching, but they did not acknowledge Him as Messiah, nor did they seek entrance into the kingdom. Jesus therefore decided that an entirely different type of effort was necessary—and this brings us to His third step.
(3) The return to Jerusalem.
In Lesson Nine a question was raised as to why Jesus decided to bring His Galilean ministry to a close and return to Jerusalem; several possibilities were suggested. However, following this brief review, we are now able to recognize the basic reason for the change. Jesus saw that both the Judean and the Galilean ministries had not produced the desired response from the people, and therefore He must now undertake a work of entirely different nature. In other words, since Plan One and Plan Two had not proved successful, Plan Three must now be put into operation. Jesus decided that instead of continuing to present the kingdom message through the forms of teaching employed thus far, He would now make the presentation through His own person; and such a presentation would surely open the way for all persons to attain "abundant entrance" into the kingdom. Earlier in His ministry, Jesus said: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34). Now Jesus decided to lead the march into the kingdom personally, and to press forward to the culmination of His ministry, even though this meant that He must needs journey by way of the Cross. The following statement by Jesus is significant:
"And he [Jesus] took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets shall be accomplished unto the Son of man. For he shall be delivered up to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and shamefully treated, and spit upon: and they shall scourge him and kill him: and on the third day he shall rise again" (Luke 18:31-33).
Thus, having Jesus' purpose clearly before us, we are now in a better position to understand His activities during this closing period of His ministry at Jerusalem. The following important happenings should be carefully studied.
John 12:1-8. (Compare with Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50.)
1. The Anointing.
While this anointing activity cannot be actually classified as one of the "happenings in Jerusalem," it does have an important place in the closing phase of Jesus' ministry. Hence, it will be well to read and carefully check the passages listed above. The first thing to be settled is this: Should we think of these Scripture passages as reports of several happenings of similar nature, or should we see here only one happening, variously reported? Certainly there are a number of differences in the accounts, and some of these differences are very pronounced. For example: John's account states that Mary, the sister of Lazarus, made the anointing; the other accounts make mention of "a woman," and "a woman ... who was a sinner"—and such terms would scarcely apply to Mary of Bethany! Traditionally, Mary Magdalene has been long associated with this anointing, and the terms mentioned might easily refer to her. Probably this tradition arose from the fact that Luke mentions Mary Magdalene immediately following his account of the anointing. (See Luke 8:2.) However, despite the differences mentioned, all the Scripture passages contain substantially the same story, and it will be noted that the similarities more than outweigh the differences. Therefore, for purposes of study, we may regard this as one happening.
At this point, two important questions arise:
(1) What was the actual purpose of this anointing?
At first reading this appears to be a loving, gracious act, performed for the purpose of expressing the woman's sincere devotion to Jesus. Undoubtedly, this devotional aspect should be recognized. However, it should also be recalled that the word Messiah (or Christ) actually means "The Anointed One," and there are many Old Testament references to this process of anointing. It seems possible, therefore, that through this act of anointing, the woman was symbolically acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah. She could not speak the word openly, because the Jewish authorities had forbidden anyone to refer to Jesus as the Messiah, imposing heavy penalties upon transgressors. (See John 9:22.) But it would seem that the woman skillfully bypassed this prohibitive regulation, and through her loving action she proclaimed that Jesus was indeed the "Anointed One," the Messiah! Apparently Jesus fully recognized the purpose of this anointing, for not only did He speak a word of approval, but He also stated that this story would be told "Wheresoever the gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world" (Mark 14:9).
(2) Why did Jesus make reference to His "burial"?
In the accounts of the anointing, it will be noticed that the Gospel writers report Jesus as connecting the event with His forthcoming death and burial. This must have been very mystifying to all persons present, since Jesus was then a comparatively young man, with the possibility of many years of active life before Him. Why, then, should He speak of His burial? The answer is to be found in the fact that, at that time, Jesus had charted His course for the final effort in His ministry, as discussed earlier in this lesson. Jesus was fully aware of what awaited Him at Jerusalem, and was prepared to lay down His life for the kingdom. In this connection, it is significant to note (assuming the anointing was performed by Mary Magdalene, as tradition avers) that Mary was the first to visit the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning (John 20:1-18). Mary's purpose in visiting the tomb was to anoint Jesus' body—probably with the remaining portion of the costly perfume, left over from the first anointing; and as a reward for this expression of love, Mary Magdalene was the first person to greet the risen Lord on the morning of the Resurrection.
Seeking metaphysical interpretation for this anointing activity, we readily recognize the "precious ointment" as a symbol of love. As the story opens, mention is made of the ointment being contained in an alabaster cruse; and had it remained there, nothing worthwhile would have been accomplished. But the Gospel writers tell how Mary broke open the cruse and poured some of the perfumed ointment upon the head and feet of Jesus. Mary thus released the soothing fragrance and healing qualities of the ointment, imparting a blessing to her Lord, and filling the house with rich perfume. In a somewhat similar way, love abiding in our heart may be designated as "precious" and be highly esteemed, but this is not sufficient. Only as love is actually poured out upon persons and situations does it impart its blessings to those concerned. Love was not meant to be hoarded within the heart. If good is to be accomplished, and if situations are to be transformed, we must break the "alabaster cruse" and start pouring out this "precious ointment" of love.
2. Visit of the "Greeks."
This visit is recorded only in John's Gospel, and 60 many New Testament readers find the account somewhat puzzling. The tendency, therefore, is to sidetrack study of this happening and press forward to the stirring events ahead. However, what took place during this visit had an important bearing on the closing phase of Jesus' ministry, so it will be well to trace carefully the sequence of events. Apparently, the Gospel writer omitted several details, and these omissions are the main cause of the difficulties suggested above. But a close study of the context will reveal the substance of these omissions and enable us to straighten out some of the puzzling features of this story, which will then read somewhat as follows:
Several Greek-speaking Jews, probably coming from the northern section of the Holy Land, were visiting Jerusalem and had been taking part in some religious observances. These visitors seemed to have a special interest in Jesus and apparently desired to warn Him of His perilous position. They told Jesus that the Jewish leaders were about to arrest Him and put Him to death, and they urged Him to make an immediate'return to Galilee. Jesus then informed these kindly-disposed visitors that He was fully aware of the danger, and, indeed, that this was His very purpose in coming to Jerusalem. He said, "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified."
At this point the visitors (and probably some of the disciples) raised the question: "But how do you know that such a sacrifice is in accord with the divine purpose?" Instead of answering directly, Jesus looked to God in prayer, and the answer came in a most unexpected manner. People standing nearby said that a storm was approaching, for there was a sound like thunder. Other persons said that an angel had spoken to Jesus. But Jesus declared that this was God's answer to the prayer He had uttered, and that this signified divine approval of the work He was about to undertake. Jesus also stated that the answer came in this way, "not for my sake, but for your [the bystanders'] sakes." Here it should be noted that Jesus made a similar statement in connection with His prayer at the grave of Lazarus. (See John 11:42.) Following this prayer and answer, Jesus restated His purpose in coming to Jerusalem—and it is here that we see the importance of this happening. Jesus declared again that "the Son of man must be lifted up," so that through the mighty work He was about to accomplish, the way would be opened into the kingdom.
The present-day meaning of this story is very important. There are times in our experience when well-meaning friends or external conditions may tend to divert us from our God-given objectives. We may be inclined to take a second look at what the New Testament terms "the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14), and try to convince ourself that to settle for something on a lower plane might be the way of wisdom. Many similar situations may arise. But at such times, a rereading of the Scripture passage now before us will remind us how Jesus went forward unwaveringly to complete His divinely-appointed mission, not allowing any possibilities of lesser good to divert Him; and then we may hear Him say to us: "Go thou, and do likewise."
3. Jesus' Parables of Urgent Appeal.
During the closing phase of His ministry, Jesus presented several important parables to His hearers. These parables were listed in an earlier lesson under the heading "Parables of Urgent Appeal," and these should now be reread. The references are as follows:
- The Two Sons: Matt. 21:28-32
- The Wicked Husbandmen: Matt. 21:33-46
- The Wedding Feast: Matt. 22:1-14
- The Ten Virgins: Matt. 25:1-13
- The Talents: Matt. 25:14-30
- The Pounds: Luke 19:11-28
In these parables we find Jesus earnestly pleading with the people—especially the Jewish leaders— to change their ways of thinking and living, so that they might share in the joys of the kingdom. These parables differ from those given during the earlier periods of Jesus' ministry, in that they contain a marked note of urgency. The time for definite action was indeed "at hand," and some decisions had to be made and actions taken without further delay. These parables represent Jesus' final appeal to His hearers.
4. The Foot-Washing.
The story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is closely associated with the closing phase of His ministry, and most of the details are well known. However, there is one rather puzzling problem connected with this happening, and this should be given careful consideration. The student will notice that this story is given only in John's Gospel. It is also apparent that John regarded this happening as highly important, since he gives a carefully detailed description of what took place. Why, then, is this story not given in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? What reasons would the synoptic writers have for omitting such a unique event?
Of course, there are several other instances where actions of Jesus are recorded in only one Gospel, and the student will encounter these from time to time. In most cases, reasons for omission are easily recognized. But the foot-washing story seems to be in an entirely different category, and there must have been some special reason (or reasons) for omitting such an important happening. This reason becomes apparent when we recall that the main purpose of the synoptic Gospels was to proclaim and emphasize the Messiahship of Jesus. When these Gospels were written, the messianic controversy was at its height. Christian converts were taught that Jesus was indeed the long-expected Messiah, but many Jewish leaders continued to denounce Him as an impostor. Under such circumstances, therefore, the synoptists probably recognized that the foot-washing story would tend to nullify their teachings regarding the Messiahship of Jesus; for it was unthinkable that the Messiah would undertake such a menial task as this. Foot-washing was a task for a slave, not a Messiah! Therefore, while this story may have been known to the synoptic writers, they apparently decided that their purpose would best be served by omitting it from their Gospels.
But a further question arises: If the above reasoning is correct, how did the story find a place in John's Gospel? Would not the same objections apply there also?
Seeking to answer this question, we should recall that John's Gospel is placed among the later writings in the New Testament, and the actual date of writing may have been as late as A.D. 120. By this time much of the controversy regarding Jesus had subsided, and His place as Messiah was firmly established in the Early Church. Furthermore, the number of Gentiles in the church had greatly increased, and these would not have been influenced by the objections of the Jewish leaders. Therefore, the story of the foot-washing may have been more acceptable to readers of John's Gospel than to the earlier readers of the synoptic Gospels. There are also indications that John had a special reason for including the story of the foot-washing in his Gospel. At the time of writing, John was called upon to meet certain tendencies which had arisen within the Early Church, and this story seemed to have special application to this situation. Consider the following:
(1) At the time when John's Gospel was written all the apostles (with the exception of John) had passed away, and a new generation of Christian leaders had arisen. The church had also greatly increased in numbers. But it would appear that there was a tendency among some of the new leaders to regard themselves as persons of high importance and to act in a haughty manner toward their fellow Christians. Long before this, the Apostle Paul had stated that a Christian should not "think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Rom. 12:3); and he also wrote, "I beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness" (Eph. 4:1-2). Apparently all of this good advice had been forgotten; and it would seem that John decided to include the story of the foot-washing in his Gospel in the hope that it would be received as a timely lesson in humility. If Jesus could so humble Himself, surely His followers might be expected to do likewise!
(2) There is also a possibility that the story of the foot-washing was included in John's Gospel to help offset certain teachings which were then creeping into the Early Church. The situation will be better understood if we recall that the church at Ephesus (where the Gospel of John was written) was founded by the Apostle Paul. (See Acts 19.) Paul also founded many other church groups in the surrounding area. But just prior to the time when John's Gospel was written, some Christian teachers were placing emphasis upon what was later termed "the primacy of Peter." They claimed that Peter was the chief apostle, and that his power and authority had been passed along to his designated successors. The story of the foot-washing would tend to nullify all such claims. In the story, Peter is pictured as seeking some sort of preeminence over the other disciples, for he said, "Not my feet only [like the other disciples], but also my hands and my head" (John 13:9). Jesus, however, rebuked Peter and (to use a familiar phrase) set him in his proper place. Jesus indicated that there was to be no preeminence in this matter, but that what He was doing would apply equally to all the disciples. Thus we have in this story not only an important lesson in humility, but also a helpful setting straight of the record.
For us today, the story of the foot-washing has an important metaphysical meaning, since it symbolically indicates the necessity for cleansing the understanding. The importance of this cleansing is shown by the frequent misunderstandings arising among the present-day followers of Jesus Christ— similar to the misunderstandings that arose among His disciples long ago. The following quotation will prove helpful when studying this story:
"By washing the feet of His disciples Jesus denied the race idea of matter as all-important and taught the value of service. Even Peter (spiritual faith) had to be cleansed of his belief in the seeming reality of material conditions. ... As through His great love Christ cleansed our understanding, we should cleanse the understanding of our fellows. He delegates to His disciples the power to cleanse man's mind of false standards of life" (Mysteries of John 126-7).
It will also be noted that in this foot-washing activity Jesus placed a new dignity on all forms of service, no matter how humble the service might be. He said, "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." In a somewhat similar statement, given in Luke 22:24-27, Jesus intimated that greatness is to be measured in terms of service; and then He added, "I am among you as he that serveth."
Matt. 26:14-16; Luke 17:1-2 and 22:3-6; John 13:21-30;
Mark 14:43-50; John 18:1-11;
Matt. 27:3-10; Acts 1:15-26.
5. The Enigma of Judas.
In New Testament study, questions often arise concerning Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. What should we think about Judas? What sort of man was he? What part did he actually play in Jesus' ministry? The New Testament labels Judas as "a thief" and "a devil"; but some early writers claimed that Judas had attained a higher degree of spiritual enlightenment than his fellow apostles. In modern times, appraisals of Judas range all the way from "a sincere but mistaken man" to "an out-and-out villain, the perpetrator of the blackest crime in history." What, then, are we to think of Judas? Where should we place him in the closing phase of Jesus' ministry?
Perhaps the best method of procedure will be to gather some important facts regarding Judas as recorded in the New Testament and give these careful consideration. Several helpful passages along these lines are listed above. Then we may place alongside these facts some reasonable possibilities regarding the motivating thoughts and the activities of Judas. This will give meaning to the facts and enable us to enter into a better understanding of the entire situation. This would work out somewhat as follows:
(1) Judas Iscariot: Some books of reference explain the surname as meaning "belonging to Kerioth," a city in Moab territory; but here it should be noted that Judas is usually regarded as being a Judean. The further suggestion has been made that the word Iscariot may have reference to the political leanings of Judas—something similar to "Simon, the Zealot." This would indicate that Judas was an ardent patriot, probably associated with an insurrectionist organization, and that his messianic hopes would include the complete overthrow of Rome.
(2) Judas' conference with the priests: The point to be recognized here is that the Jewish leaders desired to arrest Jesus, but dared not do so publicly. At that time Jesus had many followers, and a public arrest might easily have led to a riot—something that the leaders sought to avoid. Judas, therefore, went to the priests to inform them that he could bring about the arrest of Jesus in a private way, without danger of a riot; and for this piece of work he was to be paid a certain sum of money. The "thirty pieces of silver" may have represented what we would term a down payment to make this a legal contract.
But why did Judas desire to bring about the arrest of Jesus? There was no personal animosity; neither was money the consideration. The answer seems to be that Judas believed such an arrest would force Jesus to declare Himself as the Messiah—first miraculously freeing Himself, and then starting on the work of freeing the Jewish nation from Roman bondage. In this connection, it should be noted that Judas had no special love for the priests, nor did he desire to see them successful in their attempts to arrest Jesus. Indeed, Judas apparently believed that when Jesus declared Himself as the Messiah, the priests would experience feelings of deep chagrin, and they would also be money out of pocket! However, if this was actually the plan of Judas, he was doomed to disappointment; for when Jesus was finally arrested there was no resistance, and He was led quietly away to trial and condemnation. The bitter repentance and tragic death of Judas seem to indicate that the possibility of failure, or personal injury to Jesus, had not entered his mind. Matthew reports that Judas, in his bitter grief, committed suicide; but Luke indicates that this was "accidental death."
(3) Jesus' attitude toward Judas: The New Testament makes clear that Jesus was fully aware of the activities of Judas, although He made no effort to restrain the betrayer nor did He condemn him for this traitorous behavior. Jesus took a compassionate attitude toward Judas—having in mind the forthcoming verdict of history; but He allowed Judas to take his own course. What would be the explanation of such an attitude? It seems clear that Jesus came to Jerusalem fully recognizing what the outcome would be, and He was prepared to make the supreme sacrifice. Possibly Jesus saw the action of Judas as fitting into this final plan, and He accepted it accordingly. Perhaps Jesus also saw that this was the only way really to help Judas; for only after Judas actually put his plan into operation was he led to realize how erroneous was his way of thinking.
(4) Metaphysical significance: Judas is usually regarded as symbolizing the life forces within man in their unredeemed state. Judas acted as treasurer for the early organization formed by Jesus and His disciples. Similarly, Judas in consciousness acts as the custodian of those life forces, powers, and abilities that God has bestowed upon us. But what about the use of these powers, forces, and abilities? Should they be used to further personal plans, or should they be used according to divine direction? The Judas within us seeks to betray us into misusing what God has given, emphasizing the personal side, and seeking satisfaction for self. Judas claims that "the end justifies the means," and his prayer is: "My will, not thine, be done!" It is significant that, following the death of Judas, his place as an apostle was given to Matthias—whose name means "wholly given to Jehovah."
Matt. 26:17-35; Mark 14:12-31; Luke 22:7-23; John 13:1-14; I Cor. 11: 17-34
6. "In Remembrance of Me."
The New Testament passages listed above explain how and when Jesus instituted what we now term "The Lord's Supper" or "Holy Communion." In these passages the Gospel writers set ajar the doors of the Upper Room and give us a brief glimpse of the important events taking place therein. Surely, we stand on holy ground! The synoptists supply us with many helpful details regarding these momentous hours, and the three accounts should be carefully compared. John, however, makes only brief reference to the supper and then proceeds to tell of the foot-washing—which was discussed earlier in this lesson. The brief passage from I Corinthians indicates how Jesus' instructions were later transmitted to the Christian converts, and also how Holy Communion formed an important part of the worship services in the Early Church.
When making a study of the happenings in the Upper Room and the institution of the Lord's Supper, it will be well to give special attention to several important details. Consider the following:
(1) Secrecy: The synoptic writers indicate that while Jesus desired to keep the Passover with His disciples according to Jewish custom, He also took special precautions to keep secret the place where they were to partake of the supper. Why did Jesus make arrangements to observe the Passover in this way? What was the purpose of this secrecy? The answer seems to be of twofold nature: First, there was the desire to guard against intrusion. Jesus realized that this would be His final meeting with the disciples, and He had some very important instructions to convey to them. Hence, it would be necessary to make this supper an exclusive "family affair" with no outsiders present. Second, Jesus also recognized that plans for His arrest had now taken definite shape, and His opponents would seize upon the first opportunity to carry Him away. But Jesus' work was not yet complete, and He therefore guarded against the possibility of arrest at this time by keeping secret the location of the place where He planned to partake of the Passover supper.
(2) Passover: The Passover was an annual feast, commemorating the deliverance of the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage, when the angel of death smote the first-born of the Egyptians but "passed over" the homes of the Israelites. (See Exod. 12.) However, in studying the New Testament we must carefully distinguish between the Passover feast and the Lord's Supper. Jesus and His disciples sat down to partake of the Passover supper; but at the close of the meal Jesus instituted an entirely new observance, which we now speak of as the Lord's Supper. The Passover was a Jewish feast and is still observed annually by Jewish people; the Lord's Supper is the Christian sacrament which was instituted by Jesus "in the night in which he was betrayed." Thus, the Passover should be regarded as related to the teachings and activities of Moses; but the Lord's Supper comes to us direct from Jesus Christ and is observed by the Christian Church following His instructions.
(3) Nomenclature: The Lord's Supper is referred to under several different names in the various branches of the Christian church, and methods of observance also differ considerably. The terms most generally used should be familiar to the New Testament student:
- The Lord's Supper.
- Holy Communion.
- The Sacrament.
- The Last Supper. This should not be applied to the Passover, but to the special observance instituted by Jesus following the Passover.
- Holy Eucharist or Festival of Joy.
- The Mass.
- The Agape or Love Feast. This term was used by the Early Church, and emphasized divine love as revealed through Jesus Christ.
(4) Judas: Sometimes the question is asked as to whether Judas was present when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. Matthew and Luke state that "the Twelve" sat down with Jesus to the Passover supper; this would include Judas. However, John mentions that Judas left the group before the Passover supper was completed, in order to give information regarding Jesus' possible location later in the evening. Nor could Judas have returned to the Upper Room, since he next appeared with the arresting officers in the garden of Gethsemane. Furthermore, the passage in I Corinthians (cited above) indicates that the Lord's Supper was instituted after the Passover observances had been completed. Putting these details together, it would seem that Judas was not present when Jesus instituted this Christian sacrament, nor did Judas hear the Master say, "This do in remembrance of me."
(5) Metaphysical Meaning: In seeking to understand the full significance of Holy Communion, it will be well at this point for the student to make a careful reading of John 6:22-71. This passage tells how Jesus, earlier in His ministry, said to His hearers: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves ... for ... he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him." But at that time neither Jesus' hearers nor His disciples could understand the meaning of these words, and we are told that "many walked no more with him." In the light of the happenings in the Upper Room, these words now take on new meaning; and through the symbology of Holy Communion, the followers of Jesus Christ are led into experiences of oneness with Him. The following explanation of Holy Communion should prove helpful at this time:
"The benefit of taking Holy Communion is the establishing of our acceptance of the Christ whose coming we celebrate within our mind and heart. The bread used in the churches symbolizes substance, which we consider the Lord's body, a body of spiritual ideas; and the wine used symbolizes His blood, which we consider life, or the circulation of divine ideas in our consciousness that will purify our mind and heart and renew our strength, freeing us from all corruption, sin, and evil, and bringing forth in us the abundant, unlimited life of God. Through the appropriation and assimilation of the substance and life in our own consciousness, we blend our mind with the Father-Mind and there is a harmonizing of every fiber of our body with the Christ body, which is life and light. As our mind and heart are cleansed of untrue thoughts and beliefs, and as we feed on living ideas, our body takes on the life and light of our divinity, and eventually will become living light" (Keep a True Lent 192-3).
(6) The Closing Hymn: Matthew's Gospel tells how the activities in the Upper Room came to a close, and "when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives" (Matt. 26:30). This "hymn" was known as the "Hallel" (meaning "Praise") and consisted of Psalms 113-118—and the singing of this selection, or part thereof, was always included in the Passover celebration. In view of what was to follow, it is interesting to note some of the wording:
"Not unto us, O Jehovah, not unto us,
But unto thy name give glory . . .
I love Jehovah, because he heareth
My voice and my supplications....
What shall I render unto Jehovah
For all his benefits toward me?
I will take the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of Jehovah. . . .
Open to me the gates of righteousness:
I will enter into them."
Thus did Jesus and His disciples go forth, with a song upon their lips, marching onward toward Gethsemane, and to the Cross!
Questions for Lesson 10
- In your own words describe briefly the anointing of Jesus by Mary. Mention the objections made by some bystanders, and state how Jesus replied to them.
- Explain briefly why certain Greeks sought an interview with Jesus. What suggestions were probably made at that time? How did Jesus deal with these suggestions?
- When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, what special request was made by Peter? How would you interpret Jesus' reply?
- Why did Jesus' opponents seek to arrest Him secretly? Explain briefly what may have been Judas' purpose in helping to bring about this arrest.
- When and where did Jesus institute what we now term "The Lord's Supper" or "Holy Communion"? Tell briefly what took place in the Upper Room at that time. In your answer make clear the difference between the "Passover" and "The Lord's Supper."
- Mention (and explain briefly) an important metaphysical lesson arising out of the story of the anointing of Jesus by Mary.
- Explain briefly how the conversation between Jesus and the Greeks may help us to stand firm in regard to our ideals and high purposes.
- What is indicated metaphysically by the story of the foot-washing? Explain briefly why such a cleansing is necessary. Also mention how Jesus' action may affect our attitudes regarding certain types of service.
- What does Judas represent in consciousness? In what way or ways may the Judas activity affect our spiritual development? Name the apostle who later replaced Judas. What is the meaning of this name?
- What is represented by the bread and wine used in Holy Communion? How do we partake of these in a spiritual manner? How does Holy Communion help in our spiritual development?