0 Dispensationalism


The Passion Week (Part 1)


The importance of this final week of our Lord’s life upon the earth before His death and resurrection may be seen in the comparative space given to it by the Gospel writers. Matthew devotes seven chapters or 25% of his book to it; Mark five chapters, or 31%; Luke about four and a half chapters, or 19%; and John eight chapters, or 40%.

It is also significant that in the Pauline epistles which are specifically addressed to members of the Body of Christ in the present administration of God there is hardly any reference to the events in the earthly ministry of our Lord and that practically all of his epistles are occupied with Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension. In certain passages Paul tells us, for example, that Christ WAS a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (Rom. 15:8); that Christ “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,” and skipping over His earthly ministry to Israel he continues, “and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:3,4). The same treatment is seen in Gal. 4:4,5: “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Paul in no way belittles the earthly ministry of Jesus by thus omitting everything between the birth and death of Christ: he simply recognizes that this ministry was only to the nation of Israel, and that he had been given a new dispensation which was based upon the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and upon His heavenly ministry as Head of the Church which is His Body. It has been estimated that if the entire life of Jesus were written with the same detailed coverage given to the Passion week it would fill about eighty volumes the size of the Bible. There can be no doubt but that God in His Word has placed the greatest of emphasis upon the vicarious death of His Son.

The events of the Passion week all took place in and near Jerusalem. On the first day of this week, which is celebrated by many in Christendom as Palm Sunday, Jesus came from Bethany to Jerusalem and as He entered the city riding upon the colt of an ass the multitudes spread their garments in the way and others put palm branches in the way and they cried: “Hosanna to the Son of David.” This is commonly called the Triumphal Entry. He wept over the city and after going to the temple and looking round about on all things, returned at eventide to Bethany.

On Monday He returned to the temple after cursing a fig tree on the way, and there for the second time He drove out the merchants, overturning their tables and declaring that they had made His Father’s house a den of robbers. In the evening He returned again to Bethany.

Tuesday morning Jesus returned to the City with His disciples, and as they passed the fig tree which He had cursed they saw that it had withered away. In the temple He confronted the chief priests and elders who questioned His authority. A great deal of space is given over to His teaching in the temple. Upon leaving the temple He went over to the mount of Olives and sat with His disciples and taught them about the coming great tribulation and other events which would happen at the end of the age just before His second coming back to earth. At the end of the day He told His disciples: “Ye know that after two days the passover cometh, and the Son of man is delivered up to be crucified.” Meanwhile the chief priests and elders were plotting how they might take Jesus, and Judas Iscariot went to them and offered to betray Jesus to them for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus returned to Bethany and there is apparently no record of what transpired on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the first day of unleavened bread (Luke states that the feast of unleavened bread is called the Passover), the disciples asked Jesus where they should prepare to eat the Passover. He told them of the upper room where they were to make ready and there He ate the Passover and spoke His farewell words to the disciples as recorded in John 13-17. Near midnight Jesus and His disciples (Judas being absent) walked up the valley of Jehoshaphat to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed in agony and sweat as it were great drops of blood. There Judas betrayed Him to the mob of Jews, who arrested Him and dragged Him to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, where He was tried before the Sanhedrin and condemned to death. From there He was brought before Pilate, the Roman procurator, who found no fault in Him and sent Him to Herod Antipas for his judgment. Herod was happy to see Jesus because he hoped to see Him work a miracle, but Jesus remained mute in his presence and Herod and his men mocked Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate finally gave in to the cries of the Jews, “Away with Him! Crucify Him!” He was delivered to the soldiers who led Him forth out of the city, bearing His cross, to Golgotha, where they crucified Him, about nine o’clock in the morning on Friday.

The above order of events is that which is followed by most Bible expositors. However, there are those who contend that Jesus must have been crucified on Wednesday in order to allow for the full three days and three nights in the tomb, a period of 72 hours. The traditional Friday date for the crucifixion allows for only one full day and parts of two other days, but it is argued that Jewish law admitted part of a day as a day. For example, Sir Robert Anderson states: “‘A day and a night make an Onah, a part of an Onah is as the whole.’ Dr. Lightfoot quotes this Jewish saying in his Horae Hebraicae (Matt. 12:40); and he adds: ‘Therefore Christ may truly be said to have been in His grave three Onah.. .the consent of the schools and the dialect of the nation agreeing thereunto.’”

The confusion comes about largely by differences between the Synoptics and John. The Synoptics state positively that Christ ate the Passover with His disciples the night before His crucifixion (Matt. 26:17-19; Lk. 22:15); but John states it was the Preparation of the Passover when Jesus was crucified (John 19:14,31,42), which would seem to indicate that Christ was crucified on Wednesday morning, and that the Passover was eaten the next day, that is, after sunset on our Wednesday, remembering that the Jewish day began at sunset and not at midnight as does ours. This point seems further strengthened by the statement in John 18:28, that the Jews would not enter Pilate’s judgment hall on the morning of the crucifixion, “lest they should be defiled,” and therefore not be able to eat the Passover. It is further argued that the Last Supper was not the Passover and that Christ was crucified at the same time the Jews were killing the Passover lambs, thus perfectly fulfilling the type of Christ as our Passover.

For the benefit of those who would like to study the Wednesday theory further we will give a resumé of Dr. E.W. Bullinger’s outline of the Passion Week.

On our Friday morning, which he identifies as the 9th of Nisan, he has Christ’s first entry into Jerusalem, starting from Bethphage {Matt. 21:8,9), riding upon an ass with its unbroken colt (Matt. 21:1-7}. He cleansed the temple (Matt. 21:12-16) and returned to Bethany.

The Sabbath began at sunset Friday, which Christ spent at Bethany resting. This was the 10th of Nisan.

Then after sunset Saturday which was the beginning of the 11th of Nisan, Jesus attended the supper at Bethany at which He was anointed upon the feet by Mary with a pound of ointment of spikenard. The next morning which was still the 11th of Nisan or Sunday. He made His second entry into Jerusalem, that which is usually called the Triumphal entry (Palm Sunday). This entry started from Bethany and the ride involved only one animal, a colt (Mk. 11:1-7; Lk. 19:29-35; John 12:12). He returned to Bethany for the night.

The next morning, Monday, the 12th of Nisan He cursed the fig tree, made a further cleansing of the temple (Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46). Certain Greeks want to see Him. He teaches in the temple and rulers oppose Him. He returns to Bethany at night.

Tuesday morning, the 13th of Nisan, He returns and the disciples notice the fig tree has withered away. He teaches in the temple and gives the first great prophecy in the temple (Lk. 21:5-36). He then goes to the mount of Olives and gives the second prophecy (Matt. 24:1-51; Mk. 13:1-37). And He tells the disciples that after two days is the Passover. He then returns to Bethany.

After sunset Tuesday, which is the 14th of Nisan, He attends the second supper at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, and an unnamed woman pours ointment from an alabaster box upon His head. Judas plots to betray Christ.

Preparation for the Last Supper. The supper eaten. Upper room discourse. They go to Gethsemane. The arrest and trial during the night. Wednesday morning the crucifixion. Burial in haste before sunset, when the “high day” of the Feast began.

Three days and three nights in the tomb, from sunset Wednesday to sunset Saturday, 15th, 16th, and 17th of Nisan. The resurrection occurred at around sunset Saturday.31

It will thus be seen that Bullinger has two separate triumphal entries, two separate cleansings of the temple, two separate dinners in His honor at Bethany, and is anointed by two different women. We feel that the minor differences in the records of this series of events can be explained without making separate events out of them, that there is a satisfactory explanation for John’s statements which seem to disagree with the Synoptics. We will therefore follow the more generally accepted view that our Lord was crucified on Friday and arose early Sunday morning, instead of being crucified on Wednesday and being raised at sunset Saturday. For a complete exposition of these differences and a defense for the Friday date, see Sir Robert Anderson’s, The Coming Prince (chapter IX, entitled,”The Paschal Supper”). We will have more to say on this subject when we discuss the resurrection of our Lord.

1.  The So-called Triumphal Entry References:

Matt. 21: 1-11; Mk. 11: 1-11; Lk. 19:29-44; John 12:12-19

We have called this the so-called Triumphal Entry, not to detract from its glory, but to contrast it with the real Triumphal Entry when the Lord Jesus comes again in power and great glory and enters into Jerusalem and establishes His Kingdom. The contrast is between the King coming in meekness riding upon an ass into a city where He will be put to death as a criminal, and the King riding upon a white horse, coming out of heaven to earth to subdue His enemies in a great display of power and glory (Rev. 19:11-16).

Jesus knew that the Prophet Zechariah had predicted that He would be presented to Israel as their King, meekly riding upon a lowly colt of an ass (9:9), and when He reached the mount of Olives He sent His disciples into the village with instructions to bring a colt upon which no one had ever ridden which they would find tied. Here we see His omniscience in knowing all about the colt and its owners and theft reactions, and His Divine power over creation in being able to ride calmly and peaceably upon an animal which had never been broken.

When the multitudes who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem they went out to meet Him as He came up the Jericho road from Bethany and they cut down palm branches and spread them in the way and others spread their garments in the road and they began praising God and crying: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” Hosanna is a word derived from the Hebrew in Ps. 118:25 and has the meaning of “Save now.” Luke tells us that some of the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke His disciples for saying such things, but Jesus replied: “If these hold their peace, the stones will cry out.” Jesus thus accepted the adoration and worship which the multitudes were bestowing upon Him. Luke also informs us that as He drew near to the city He wept over it for not knowing the things which belonged to its peace and predicted the impending destruction because it knew not the time of its visitation. On “visitation” see 1 Pet. 2:12. Israel did not recognize that God was visiting them.

John also adds an interesting sidelight. He states: “These things understood not his disciples at the first: but where Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.” John refers to a similar case when Jesus spoke of destroying this temple and of raising it up in three days (cf. 2:19-22).

We do not read that Jesus did any teaching on this day which is now celebrated as Palm Sunday. Mark tells us that He did go into the temple, and when He had looked round about upon all things, it now being eventide, He went out unto Bethany with the Twelve. Bethany was the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus and was located on the road to Jericho, about 15 furlongs from Jerusalem, by the mount of Olives. It was from this spot that Jesus had made His entry into Jerusalem as Israel’s King, and it was from the same spot, some forty- seven days later, that He made His entry into heaven (Acts 1:3-9).

2.  Cursing the Fig Tree

References: Matt. 21:18-22; Mk. 11:12-14; 20-26

Jesus had spent Sunday night at Bethany and on Monday morning as He returned to Jerusalem with His disciples He became hungry, and seeing a fig tree He came to it but found nothing on it but leaves. Mark tells us that it was not the season for figs. Matthew in vs. 20 and 21 tells of the withering of the tree after Christ had said: “Let there be no fruit on thee henceforward for ever,” as though it withered immediately, but according to Mark it was on the next morning as they passed by that they observed the tree had withered, not simply the leaves had withered, but it had withered away from the roots. The disciples were greatly impressed how quickly the tree had died.

The question which troubles most readers is why Jesus cursed the tree for not having figs, when it was not the season for figs. Edersheim claims: “It is a well- known fact, that in Palestine the fruit appears before the leaves, and that this fig tree, whether from its exposure or soil, was precocious, is evident from the fact that it was a leaf, which is quite unusual at that season on the mount of Olives.” It was a barren fig tree, like the one we considered in Lk. 13:6-9, which was good only to be chopped down. While there is nothing in the immediate context to point to a symbolic interpretation of the cursing of this barren fig tree, there can be no doubt but that the fig is symbolic of Israel, and the events which were to take place that day when He cleansed the temple and the next day in His teaching in the temple all point to the fact that what had happened to the fig tree was exactly what was going to happen to the nation of Israel. Israel had all of the leaves of religious profession, but for the three years that Jesus came looking for fruit He found none.

While the lesson here is primarily about Israel, the application can be made to people in any dispensation. Fig leaves couldn’t provide a suitable covering for Adam and Eve, and they couldn’t satisfy Christ’s hunger. Note some of the things Paul has to say about fruit bearing in this dispensation: Rom. 1:13; 6:21,22; 7:4,5; 15:28; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 4:17; Col. 1:6.

Peter apparently saw no symbolism in the cursing of the fig tree. It was the miracle that impressed him. Jesus answered Peter and said: “Have faith in God,” and proceeded to use the cursing of the tree as an example of faith and the possibilities of faith in prayer. We believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture, but this does not mean that we refuse to recognize figurative and symbolic language where it exists.

When Christ spoke of a faith that would move mountains, we do not believe He was talking about literal mountains. If He was, then there is no record of any one, including Jesus Himself, who had this kind of faith which actually uprooted a whole mountain and cast it into the sea. To do such a thing would cause great loss of human life and damage to property. Suppose for a moment that some one had the faith to cause the Swiss Alps to be cast into the Mediterranean Sea. Can one begin to imagine how many millions of lives would be snuffed out and the worldwide disaster from earth shocks?

It is well-known that “rooting up mountains” is in common Rabbinic use a hyperbole for doing the impossible or the incredible. It was the absence of faith which caused Israel to be barren. What mighty changes could have come about in world history had Israel manifested that kind of faith in God! Israel’s Kingdom could have been established. The Gentile nations could have been brought into subjection. Wars could have been outlawed. Armaments could have been converted into agricultural tools. That which seems impossible to accomplish through one small nation will some day become an actuality when Israel turns in true faith to God. But God has declared that nothing can now produce that Utopia, not even the greatest of faith, until Christ returns and Israel is converted; for Christ Himself declared that there would be wars and rumors of war until the very end of the age (Matt. 24:6,21).

3.  The Second Cleansing of the Temple

References: Matt. 21:12-17; Mk. 11:15-19; Lk. 19:45-48

It is significant that at the first Passover of Jesus’ ministry He cleansed the Temple by driving out the merchants and overturning the tables of the money changers. When asked for a sign to show His authority, Jesus said: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:19-22). Now at the last Passover of His ministry He duplicates this act, and as we shall see in the next section, He refuses to state by what authority He has done this.

As Paul points out in Rom 2:17-24 it was God’s original purpose for Israel to bring the knowledge of God to the Gentile nations, but instead they had caused the name of God to be blasphemed among the Gentiles. Jesus said the original purpose of God for the temple was that it should be called a house of prayer for all the nations, but they had made it a den of robbers.

After cleansing the temple, the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple and He healed them. When the chief priests and scribes beheld all of the wonderful works He was doing and when they heard the children crying out in the temple: “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were moved with indignation and demanded that Jesus refrain them. The day before when the crowds cried “Hosanna” as He entered the city and the Pharisees tried to rebuke Him for permitting them to say such things about Him, He replied: “If these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out.” In the temple it was the children praising Him, and His reply to the rulers on this occasion was: “Yea, did ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?” (Ps. 8:2), “and He left them.” What sad words! He not only left their physical presence and returned to Bethany for the night, but He left them in their sin, bereft of God’s presence.

God can use children as well as adults. Strong cites an incident out of Eliot’s novel: “Silas Marner, the old weaver of Raveloe, so pathetically and vividly described in George Eliot’s novel, was a hard, desolate, godless old miser, but after little Eppie strayed into his miserable cottage that memorable winter night, he began again to believe. ‘I think now,’ he said at last, ‘I can trusten God until I die.’”

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

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THE PURPOSE OF THIS SITE IS TO SHARE OUR INTERPRETATIONS OF IMPORTANT ISSUES RAISED IN GOD'S WORD. WE BELIEVE IN SOLA SCRIPTURA AND NOT IN ANY MAN-MADE DOCTRINE, ADDITIONAL REVELATIONS OR ADDITIONAL PROPHECIES WHICH ARE NOT IN LINE WITH THE HOLY SCRIPTURES. IMAGES DISPLAYING "JESUS" AND ANY CATHOLIC MATERIAL WILL BE DELETED WITHOUT NOTIFICATION. THIS IS A CHRISTIAN BLOG. WE MUST ALWAYS ACT LIKE REBORN CHRISTIANS AND NO UNNECESSARY DEBATES OR PERSONAL ATTACKS WOULD BE TOLERATED. NEVER GIVE UP TRUTH BUT REMEMBER THAT THERE WOULD ALWAYS BE "GRAY AREAS" ON WHICH WE WOULD ONLY GET FINAL ANSWERS ONCE WE ARE WITH CHRIST. HEAVENLY REMNANT MINISTRIES'' STATEMENT OF FAITH IS AS FOLLOWS: 1. There is one living and true GOD, eternally existing in three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, equal in power and glory; that this triune God created all, upholds all, and governs all things. (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; John 10:30; Hebrews 9:14) 2. We believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, fully inspired without error in the original manuscripts, and the infallible rule of faith and practice. The Word of God is the foundation upon which this church operates and is the basis for which this ministry is governed. We believe that the Word of God supercedes any earthly law that is contrary to the Holy Scriptures. (Isaiah 28:13; Nehemiah 8:8; John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 1:21) 3. We believe in the person of God the Father, an Infinite, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power and love; that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men; that He hears and answers prayer; and that He saves from sin and death all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ. (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalms 90:2; Psalms 102:27; John 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17; Titus 1:3) 4. We believe in the person of Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles and teachings, his substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people and personal, visible return to earth. (Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:23; Mark 16:19; Luke 1:34-35; John 1:1-2; John 8:58; John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 1:2; Revelation 1:8) 5. We believe in the person of the Holy Spirit, Who came forth from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify and empower for ministry all who believe in Christ; (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 3:18; John 16:8-11; Romans 15:13,16; Hebrews 9:14) 6. We believe the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Jesus Christ and that He is an abiding helper, teacher, and guide. (John 14:16-17, 16:8-11) 7. We believe that all people are sinners by nature and, therefore, are under condemnation; that God regenerates based upon faith by the Holy Spirit, those who repent of their sins and confess Jesus Christ as Lord. (Acts 8:15-17; Titus 3:5) 8. We believe that God is sovereign and that He elects those He predestined to be saved according to His will (It is not man’s own choice) (1 Thessalonians 1:4, Romans 8:33, Mark 13:27, Mark 13:20, Acts 13:48, Ephesians 1:3-4, James 1:18, James 2:5, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, Romans 9:10-16) 9. We believe in the universal church, the living spiritual body, of which Christ is the head and all who are born again are members. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:15-16) 10. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ committed two ordinances to the church: (a) full immersion water baptism, and (b) the Lord's Supper. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) 11. We believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ which is His personal, visible return to earth and the establishment of His millennial kingdom, in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment and eternal blessing of the righteous and endless suffering of the wicked. (Matthew 16:27; Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:11-16, 20: 11-15) 12. We believe in a literal Heaven and a literal Hell and that all those who place their faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ will spend eternity in Heaven with the Lord, while those who were not elected and rejected Jesus’ free gift of salvation will spend eternity separated from the Lord in Hell. (Matthew 5:3, 25:31-34; Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 1:4; Psalm 9:17; Matthew 5:22, 18:9; Luke 12:5) 13. We believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church where all believers will meet the Lord in the air and be taken out of this world prior to the Tribulation that will come upon the earth. (Matthew 24:29-31; Luke 21:36; Romans 1:18, 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Peter 2:7-9; Revelation 5:7-10, 7:13-14) 14. We believe in the literal fulfillment of Bible end time prophecies, although some might be written in a figurative or symbolic manner in the Bible, like the book of Revelation. 

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