Monday, April 6, 2009

Journey To the Cross - Monday

We know from Mark 14:1 and Matthew 26:2 that we have two days left until the Passover (Wednesday). Jesus would travel from Jerusalem to the temple and spend another day preaching in the temple and having discourse with the Scribes and Pharisees. If we were with Jesus, we would again pass the fig tree that Jesus had cursed the day before and be astonished with the other disciples that the fig tree has completely dried up and withered from the roots up. (Matthew 21:19, Mark 11:20). We would again consider that the fig tree cannot be our covering for sin and that God finds man-made religious practices unacceptable, not one day will pass where the religious practices of man are acceptable to God.

We would follow Jesus back into the temple where the Scribes, Pharisees and lawyers will make a final assault on the authority of Jesus Matthew 21:23-23:39, Mark 11:27-12:44. Jesus will end His discussion with the Scribes and Pharisees with the comments of "Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Jesus uses strong words for strong circumstances. The leaders of Judah are misrepresenting Jesus. They are misrepresenting the word of God in the Bible and all that God stands for. Jesus refers to them as a "brood of vipers", referring to the words and actions of the leaders that their deeds are separating people from the true God and are therefore as poisonous as the poison of a snake.

Earlier, through the prophet Isaiah, Jesus said to the leaders of ancient Judah that when the circumstances of their lives pressed against them and caused them to be uncomfortable that they would responded from their heart. Jesus saw that the leaders were upset with circumstances that they didn't understand and that their actions really revealed their true heart towards God. Jesus was therefore quoting the prophet Isaiah in order to encourage the leaders to search the scriptures in a new light and gain new insight into the person of God and new insight into the kingdom of God. After the death and resurrection of Jesus the book of Acts tells us that many of the Priests came to believe in Jesus Acts 6:7. Jesus is showing us that although strong words were used, Jesus did it in a way of Reconciliation. There is only one Ministry, it is the ministry of reconciliation, man to God and man to man.

After this discussion, Jesus left the temple for the last time Matthew 24:1, Mark 13:1. We can immediately remember the Prophet Ezekiel, Ezekiel 10:1-22 and his depiction of the presence of God departing from the temple as the people had rejected God. Ezekiel wrote of a temple from which the presence of God had departed and later that temple would be destroyed by the invading Babylonians. Likewise, this temple with the presence of God, in the person of Jesus departing, would later be destroyed by the Roman armies.

After the discussion between the leaders and Jesus, Jesus walked out of the temple and the disciples followed Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2. The disciples thought that this was the long awaited moment, the moment when the King Jesus, would take control and according to scripture would reign and rule from Jerusalem. The disciples were now interested in the buildings of the temple. In effect, the disciples were saying these are great buildings to rule from and probably wondering where their office would be. As we stand there and eavesdrop, we would hear Jesus reply and give a prophecy that the temple would be destroyed, one stone block at a time, until there were no more stone blocks left stacked upon another. The disciples were stunned. They realized that they were not familiar with the current plan of Jesus.

That evening when they returned to the Mount of Olives, some of the disciples came to Jesus privately and asked "what is the time or sign of Jesus coming into power?" In other words, when is Jesus the King going to reign and rule on earth as the King? Jesus told them that it was not for them to know the times and gave a long informative discourse into the end time events. Jesus specifically warned the disciples not to fall for deception, that many will be deceived by the vast amount of lies and deceit being told in the world. He taught that only the Bible is the true word of God. The teaching is now called "Jesus' Mt. Olivet Discourse" Matthew 24:3-26:2, Mark 13:3-14:1.

A Ministry of Reconciliation...

The ministry of Jesus is the embodiment of the Cross that Jesus would be crucified on as on the cross Jesus is lifted up - suspended, between Heaven (the dwelling of God) and Earth (the dwelling of man). The vertical post of the cross represents reconciliation between God and Man while at the same time the outstretched - reaching out arms of Jesus and the horizontal beam of the cross represent the reconciliation of one to another. Reconciliation is accomplished only in and by Jesus. There is no other hope for mankind but in Jesus, His Cross and His Resurrection.

No comments: