“The Hour Has Come!”
“His hour had come for him to move out of this world to the Father.”—JOHN 13:1.
1. As the Passover of 33 C.E. approaches, Jerusalem is alive with what speculations, and why?
AT HIS baptism in 29 C.E., Jesus embarked on the course that would lead to the “hour” of his death, resurrection, and glorification. Now it is the spring of 33 C.E. Only a few weeks have passed since the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, took counsel to kill Jesus. Learning of their plan, possibly from Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin who has been friendly to him, Jesus has left Jerusalem and has gone into the countryside across the Jordan River. As the Festival of the Passover nears, many people go from the country into Jerusalem, and the city is buzzing with speculations about Jesus. “What is your opinion?” people ask one another. “That he will not come to the festival at all?” The chief priests and Pharisees have added to the excitement by giving orders that anyone seeing Jesus should report his whereabouts to them.—John 11:47-57.
2. What act of Mary stirs controversy, and Jesus’ answer in her defense indicates what about his awareness of “his hour”?
2 On Nisan 8, six days before the Passover, Jesus is back in the vicinity of Jerusalem. He comes to Bethany—the hometown of his beloved friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus—a place located about two miles [3 km] outside of Jerusalem. It is Friday evening, and Jesus spends the Sabbath there. The next evening when Mary ministers to him using precious perfumed oil, the disciples object. Jesus replies: “Let her alone, that she may keep this observance in view of the day of my burial. For you have the poor always with you, but me you will not have always.” (John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13) Jesus knows that ‘his hour has come for him to move out of this world to the Father.’ (John 13:1) Five days more and he will “give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Mark 10:45) Henceforth, a sense of urgency affects everything Jesus does and teaches. What a marvelous example this provides for us as we eagerly await the end of this system of things! Consider what happens in Jesus’ case the very next day.
The Day of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry
3. (a) How does Jesus enter Jerusalem on Sunday, Nisan 9, and how do most of the people around him respond? (b) What answer does Jesus give the Pharisees who complain about the crowd?
3 On Sunday, Nisan 9, Jesus comes to Jerusalem triumphantly. As he approaches the city—riding on the colt of an ass in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9—most of the people that have gathered around him spread their outer garments on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them out. “Blessed is the One coming as the King in Jehovah’s name!” they cry. Some Pharisees in the crowd want Jesus to rebuke his disciples. However, Jesus replies: “I tell you, If these remained silent, the stones would cry out.”—Luke 19:38-40; Matthew 21:6-9.
4. Why is Jerusalem set in commotion when Jesus enters the city?
4 Just a few weeks earlier, many in the crowd had seen Jesus resurrect Lazarus. Now these keep telling others about that miracle. So as Jesus enters Jerusalem, the whole city is set in commotion. “Who is this?” people ask. And the crowds keep saying: “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!” Seeing what is happening, the Pharisees lament: “The world has gone after him.”—Matthew 21:10, 11; John 12:17-19.
5. What happens when Jesus goes to the temple?
5 As is his custom when visiting Jerusalem, Jesus, the Great Teacher, goes to the temple to teach. There the blind and the lame come to him, and he cures them. When the chief priests and the scribes see this and they hear the boys in the temple crying out, “Save, we pray, the Son of David!” they become angry. “Do you hear what these are saying?” they protest. “Yes,” Jesus replies. “Did you never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise’?” As Jesus continues teaching, he takes a good look at what is going on in the temple.—Matthew 21:15, 16; Mark 11:11.
6. How is Jesus’ approach now different from what it was earlier, and why?
6 How different Jesus’ approach is now from what it was six months earlier! He then came into Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles “not openly but as in secret.” (John 7:10) And he always took measures to get away safely when his life was threatened. Now he openly enters into the city where orders have been issued to seize him! It was also not Jesus’ custom to advertise himself as the Messiah. (Isaiah 42:2; Mark 1:40-44) He did not want noisy advertising or distorted reports about him passed from mouth to mouth. Now the crowds are openly declaring him King and Savior—the Messiah—and he rebuffs the religious leaders’ requests to silence them! Why the change? Because “the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified,” as Jesus announces the very next day.—John 12:23.
Bold Action—Then Lifesaving Teachings
7, 8. How do Jesus’ actions on Nisan 10, 33 C.E., reflect what he did in the temple at the Passover of 30 C.E.?
7 Upon arriving at the temple on Monday, Nisan 10, Jesus acts on what he saw the preceding afternoon. He starts ‘to throw out those selling and buying in the temple, and he overturns the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves; and he does not let anyone carry a utensil through the temple.’ Condemning the wrongdoers, he declares: “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a cave of robbers.”—Mark 11:15-17.
8 Jesus’ actions reflect what he did three years before when he visited the temple at the Passover of 30 C.E. The denunciation, however, is more pungent this time. The merchants in the temple are now referred to as “robbers.” (Luke 19:45, 46; John 2:13-16) They are such because they demand exorbitant prices from those who need to buy animals for sacrifice. The chief priests, scribes, and principal ones of the people hear about what Jesus is doing and again seek ways to have him killed. Yet, they do not know how to eliminate Jesus, since all the people, being astounded at his teaching, are hanging onto him to hear him.—Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47, 48.
9. What lesson does Jesus teach, and what invitation does he extend to his listeners at the temple?
9 As Jesus continues teaching in the temple, he declares: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.” Yes, he knows that he has only a few days of human life left. After relating how a grain of wheat must die in order to bear fruit—corresponding to his own dying and becoming a means to impart everlasting life to others—Jesus extends an invitation to his listeners, saying: “If anyone would minister to me, let him follow me, and where I am there my minister will be also. If anyone would minister to me, the Father will honor him.”—John 12:23-26.
10. How does Jesus feel about the agonizing death that awaits him?
10 Thinking about his agonizing death that is only four days away, Jesus continues: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me out of this hour.” But what awaits Jesus cannot be avoided. “Nevertheless,” he says, “this is why I have come to this hour.” Indeed, Jesus is in agreement with the entire arrangement of God. He is determined to let the divine will govern his actions down to his sacrificial death. (John 12:27) What an example he set for us—one of full submission to the divine will!
11. What teachings does Jesus impart to the crowd that has just heard a voice from heaven?
11 Being deeply concerned about how his Father’s reputation will be affected by his death, Jesus prays: “Father, glorify your name.” To the amazement of the crowd gathered at the temple, a voice comes out of heaven, proclaiming: “I both glorified it and will glorify it again.” The Great Teacher uses this opportunity to tell the crowd why the voice has been heard, what the consequences of his death will be, and why they need to exercise faith. (John 12:28-36) The last two days certainly have been action-packed for Jesus. But a crucial day is yet ahead.
The Day for Denunciations
12. On Tuesday, Nisan 11, how do the religious leaders try to trap Jesus, and with what result?
12 On Tuesday, Nisan 11, Jesus once again goes into the temple to teach. A hostile audience is at hand. Referring to Jesus’ actions the previous day, the chief priests and older men of the people ask him: “By what authority do you do these things? And who gave you this authority?” The Master Teacher confounds them by his answer, and he relates three vivid illustrations—two of them about a vineyard and one about a marriage feast—that expose just how wicked his opposers are. Angered by what they hear, the religious leaders want to seize him. But they fear the crowds, who consider Jesus to be a prophet. So they seek to trick him into saying something for which they can have him arrested. The answers Jesus gives silence them.—Matthew 21:23–22:46.
13. What advice does Jesus give his listeners concerning the scribes and the Pharisees?
13 Since the scribes and the Pharisees profess to teach God’s Law, Jesus now urges his listeners: “All the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform.” (Matthew 23:1-3) What a powerful public denunciation! But Jesus is not through with them. This is his last day at the temple, and he boldly issues a series of exposés—one after another like rolling thunder.
14, 15. What scathing denunciations does Jesus pronounce against the scribes and Pharisees?
14 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Jesus declares six times. They are such because, as he explains, they shut up the Kingdom of the heavens before men, not permitting those on their way in to go in. These hypocrites traverse sea and dry land to make one proselyte, only to make him a subject for eternal annihilation. While neglecting “the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness,” they give great attention to paying the tithe. In effect, they cleanse “the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of plunder and immoderateness” in that their inner rottenness and putrefaction are hidden behind an outward display of piety. Furthermore, they are willing to build tombs for the prophets and decorate them to draw attention to their own deeds of charity, even though they “are sons of those who murdered the prophets.”—Matthew 23:13-15, 23-31.
15 Condemning the lack of spiritual values on the part of his opponents, Jesus says: “Woe to you, blind guides.” They are morally blind because they put more emphasis on the gold of the temple than on the spiritual value of that place of worship. Going on, Jesus utters his strongest words of denunciation. “Serpents, offspring of vipers,” he says, “how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” Yes, Jesus is telling them that for pursuing their wicked course, they will suffer everlasting destruction. (Matthew 23:16-22, 33) May we too show courage in proclaiming the Kingdom message, even when it involves exposing false religion.
16. While sitting on the Mount of Olives, what important prophecy does Jesus give his disciples?
16 Jesus now leaves the temple. In the fading afternoon sun, he and his apostles climb the Mount of Olives. While sitting there, Jesus gives the prophecy about the destruction of the temple and the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things. The significance of these prophetic words reaches down to our time. That evening, Jesus also tells his disciples: “You know that two days from now the passover occurs, and the Son of man is to be delivered up to be impaled.”—Matthew 24:1-14; 26:1, 2.
Jesus ‘Loves His Own to the End’
17. (a) During the Passover on Nisan 14, what lesson does Jesus teach the 12? (b) What commemoration does Jesus institute after dismissing Judas Iscariot?
17 For the next two days—Nisan 12 and 13—Jesus does not openly show himself at the temple. The religious leaders are seeking to kill him, and he does not want anything to interfere with his celebrating the Passover with his apostles. The setting sun on Thursday begins Nisan 14—the last day of Jesus’ life on earth as a human. That evening, Jesus and his apostles are together in a house in Jerusalem where preparation has been made for them to celebrate the Passover. As they enjoy the Passover together, he teaches the 12 a beautiful lesson in humility by washing their feet. After dismissing Judas Iscariot, who has agreed to betray his Master for 30 pieces of silver—the price of a mere slave according to the Mosaic Law—Jesus introduces the Memorial of his death.—Exodus 21:32; Matthew 26:14, 15, 26-29; John 13:2-30.
18. What further teachings does Jesus lovingly impart to his 11 faithful apostles, and how does he prepare them for his imminent departure?
18 Following the inauguration of the Memorial, the apostles become involved in a heated argument over which one of them is the greatest. Rather than scolding them, Jesus patiently teaches them about the value of ministering to others. Appreciating that they have stuck with him during his trials, he makes a personal covenant with them for a kingdom. (Luke 22:24-30) Jesus also commands them to love one another just as he has loved them. (John 13:34) As he lingers in that room, Jesus lovingly prepares them for his imminent departure. He assures them of his friendship, encourages them to exercise faith, and promises them the help of the holy spirit. (John 14:1-17; 15:15) Before leaving the house, Jesus petitions his Father: “The hour has come; glorify your son, that your son may glorify you.” Indeed, Jesus has prepared the apostles for his departure, and he surely ‘loves his own to the end.’—John 13:1; 17:1.
19. Why is Jesus in agony in the garden of Gethsemane?
19 It may be well past midnight when Jesus and his 11 faithful apostles reach the garden of Gethsemane. He has often gone there with his apostles. (John 18:1, 2) Within hours, Jesus is to die as though he were a despicable criminal. The agony of this anticipated experience and how it may bring reproach upon his Father is so intense that while Jesus prays, his sweat becomes as drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:41-44) “The hour has come!” Jesus says to the apostles. “Look! My betrayer has drawn near.” While he is yet speaking, Judas Iscariot approaches, accompanied by a large crowd carrying torches and lamps and weapons. They have come to arrest Jesus. He does not resist. “In that case,” he explains, “how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must take place this way?”—Mark 14:41-43; Matthew 26:48-54.
The Son of Man Glorified!
20. (a) What atrocities befall Jesus following his arrest? (b) Just moments before dying, why does Jesus cry out: “It has been accomplished”?
20 Following his arrest, Jesus is accused by false witnesses, convicted by biased judges, sentenced by Pontius Pilate, derided by priests and mobs, and mocked and tortured by soldiers. (Mark 14:53-65; 15:1, 15; John 19:1-3) By Friday noon, Jesus is nailed to a torture stake and suffers excruciating pain as the weight of his body tears at the nail wounds in his hands and feet. (John 19:17, 18) At about three in the afternoon, Jesus cries out: “It has been accomplished!” Yes, he has completed all that he came to earth to do. Entrusting his spirit to God, he bows his head and dies. (John 19:28, 30; Matthew 27:45, 46; Luke 23:46) On the third day thereafter, Jehovah resurrects his Son. (Mark 16:1-6) Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascends to the heavens and is glorified.—John 17:5; Acts 1:3, 9-12; Philippians 2:8-11.
21. How may we imitate Jesus?
21 How may we ‘follow Jesus’ steps closely’? (1 Peter 2:21) Like him, let us exert ourselves vigorously in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work and be bold and courageous in speaking the word of God. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Acts 4:29-31; Philippians 1:14) Let us never lose sight of where we are in the stream of time or fail to incite one another to love and fine works. (Mark 13:28-33; Hebrews 10:24, 25) May we let our entire course of action be governed by Jehovah God’s will and the awareness that we are living in “the time of the end.”—Daniel 12:4.
How Would You Answer?
• Jesus’ knowledge that his death was near had what effect on his final ministry at the temple in Jerusalem?
• What shows that Jesus ‘loved his own to the end’?
• What do the events of the last few hours of Jesus’ life indicate about him?
• How may we imitate Christ Jesus in our ministry?
[Picture on page 18]
Jesus “loved them to the end”