23.) Now when He (Jesus) came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave you this authority?”
27.) Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him.
1.) Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him,
1.) Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.
I share these four scriptures from different Gospel writers with you today to demonstrate one point: The entirety of Holy Week, Jesus was in Jerusalem. From the moment He entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives until His arrest on the Mount of Olives, He was in the temple in Jerusalem. He wasn’t hiding or holed up in a secret location. He was in the temple, teaching and preaching the Gospel.
Mark has Jesus walking in the temple as He is approached by the Jewish authorities. Matthew and Luke have Him teaching Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He would get up early and go to the temple and teach all day. Then He and the disciple would return to the Mount of Olives for the night. There Jesus would ply a crash course of instruction for His disciples. I truly believe that one reason the disciples had such a hard time staying awake the morning He was arrested is because they had gotten very little sleep or rest the previous four nights. That, on top of the feast they had just shared…(Well, all we have to do is think about a typical Thanksgiving celebration, and we can understand!) Read all four Gospels from the points listed above and you find the majority of the teaching is for the disciples.
None of the Gospel writers break the account up, detailing that this was done on this day or that occurred in such-and-such a location. The story is all incorporated together. But this and probably much, much more was spread out over a four-day period. Each Gospel tells us the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus. He was there right in front of them as they tested Him, hoping that He would say the wrong thing. But He didn’t, and they left Him alone.
As He taught, Jesus most likely was seated in the colonnade. The colonnade ran from end to end of the temple grounds along both the east and west walls. In Israel today, there is very little left of the Temple mount, and none is fully restored. There is a section about 150 feet long on the west wall. It has a step-up of 6-8 inches high and 30-35 feet wide. And although today the remains are only of part of the original structure, it is easy to see how this would be a great place for teachers and rabbis to hold their classes. The Gospel writers tell us that the Jewish leaders couldn’t afford the uprising it would create if they arrested Jesus in the temple, because all of the pilgrims were congregated there also. That’s why they tried to test and trick Him. They couldn’t arrest Him when He left town either. Jesus and His disciples went to the Mount of Olives, as did a thousand others. They could stomp around out there all night and not find Him, and also all the commotion could warn Him off.
I know you’re thinking, “Okay, preacher, why are you sharing this? Why do you think this is important?” Well, because it comes down to God’s timing. Everything is about God’s timing. God’s timing is all about what God wants to accomplish, His reasons, and His plans. At one point or another in all the Gospels, Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem for the specific purpose of the sacrifice He would make. It wasn’t just the sacrifice itself. No, it had to be at the Passover, the greatest celebration of the Jewish faith. The time they celebrated their deliverance from Egypt. Those who have joined us in the past for the Passover and Seder know that it is celebrated as a time of deliverance. Jesus’ death was not just to be the deliverance of a nation but of the world. By His taking of the partial loaf of bread, which was set aside for Elijah, and of the wine, which was placed outside for Elijah, Jesus confirmed to His disciples that Elijah had come, and the Messiah was there!! Thus, the establishment of a new covenant through His body and His blood…. The beatings and mocking and scourging would then fulfill the Scriptures about the suffering servant. Remember, it’s about the timing: The nails being driven into His hands and feet at 9 a.m., the traditional time of the morning sacrifice. His cry, “It is finished” at 3 p.m., the traditional time the Passover lamb was slain. The Passover lamb whose blood kept away the Angel of Death and delivered a nation, replaced by God’s Passover who took away the sins of the world and made a way of deliverance for all humanity. It is interesting, is it not? God’s timing…..
Consider this crazy virus, which has caused so much change in our lives. This coming Sunday marks the fourth Sunday in a row that we have not been able to meet together as the Body of Christ. Our local congregation had planned to celebrate the Passover and Seder this year. No Sunrise Service. No Easter breakfast together. This virus has taken away of lot of our freedom. So much is still unknown about it. The facts that we do know cause us concern. Those who have contracted it, those who are hospitalized, those for whom it has caused death. We look around and wonder if what we don’t know will end up affecting us in a negative way. In our own immediate family, both Kate and Clayton have been informed that people they worked with last week became symptomatic and have now been diagnosed with the virus. Because of that, we were not able to celebrate Wyatt’s birthday together with them on Sunday. This difference in our routine, like other situations in our lives, could add to the worry, fear, and frustration about what we don’t have, what we can’t do, and what we don’t know….
But you know what we DO have? We have the blood of Jesus! If the blood of a simple lamb could keep the plagues of Egypt away from the children of Israel, just imagine what the blood of the only begotten Son of God can do today! The blood of the One who made the lame to walk, the infirm well, the maimed whole, the lepers clean, the blind to have sight, and the dead to rise back to life. Imagine what He could do if we truly turned to Him instead of just Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.
Know what else we have? We have His word in which we find the statements of faith of the saints who have gone before as well as His promises. Imagine if we were to dive deep into His Word in search of them instead of focusing on our fears and doubts….
Know what else we have? We have His very presence. Through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, He fulfills every moment of every day the promise that He will never leave us of forsake us. We are not alone. We are not locked down. We are locked in with the God who created the universe and Who is also our Loving Heavenly Father.
Know what else we have? We have each other. Through the Holy Spirit, we are able to be joined together in our spirits. The space of separation is absolutely no problem for our Heavenly Father. Through our Facebook page, our website, our phones, our letters, and our computers, we can communicate and share our burdens, our joys, our fears, our hope, and our faith.
I love God’s timing. It is giving us a chance now to see not just what He can do, but what He is already doing. It is giving us an opportunity to experience what He wants to do through us as well.
PEACE AND BLESSINGS
Remember – claim Psalm 91 in the first person every day.