The Gospel According to Luke – Christ’s Jerusalem Ministry
March 1, 2008
Starting in Luke 19:28, we join Jesus in his final pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover. From the time of Christ until the destruction of the Temple, the Passover reaches its highest point of prominence in the Jewish liturgical calendar. Swelling three-times its size, the crooked, oriental streets of Jerusalem are crowded with pilgrims and lambs to be slaughtered.
Juxtaposing the violent end that will befall Him, He enters the city in a peaceable manner – by riding a colt (also referred to as an ass in some translations). A combination of the large crowds and the inspiring, Messianic-laden liturgies that take place in the Temple make for a potential powder-keg situation. Upon seeing the renowned miracle-worker riding on the cold, the crowd erupts with shouts of "Blessed is He who comes as king in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Though His disciples try to bring order to the palm-bearing crowd, Jesus affirms that such a greeting is in accord with the Father’s will, for He says "If they were to keep silence, I tell you the very stones would cry out." A sort of prefigurement of His Second Coming, one does well not to overlook the multiple layers of His entrance, specifically the focus on Christ as king.
In verse 45, Jesus ejects the traders and those selling concessions from the Court of the Gentiles, saying "my house is meant to be a house of prayer [for all nations]." This event takes place on the Monday before His crucifixion, and showcase His might. Not only does he expel the money-changers and practically gain complete control of the Temple Mount, but He confounds the questions of the priests and Pharisees who question his authority.
After they question Him, he directs the biting Parable of the Tenants at these priests and scribes. In this parable, a man planted a vineyard but his wicked tenants kill everyone he sends to reclaim what is rightfully his, even to the point of killing the master’s beloved son. He shows how these Jewish authorities are acting exactly as the tenants do in His parable: in their hatred for Christ and inability to accept Him as the Messiah, they throw away all reason and seek to kill Him. At this point, they greatly increase the number of spies they send into the Temple to question Jesus, seeking to catch Him off-guard that they might deliver Him into the Governor’s court on a charge or public disorder, or worse. In every instance, Jesus outwits these adversaries with great rabbinical arguments (cf. v. 20-25 and v. 27-40).
In the week leading up to the Crucifixion, Jesus teaches daily in the Temple and retires over the Mount of Olives into Bethany each night. Notable teachings of this week include a warning to avoid the religious pride of the Pharisees and an affirmation of God’s pleasure with the poor widow he sees giving all she had to the temple treasury.
After He leaves Jerusalem for Bethany on Tuesday night, He predicts not only His passion and the destruction of the cataclysm to come, although the Disciples cannot seem to understand these teachings. Next week we will study Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and those other events leading up to the Last Supper.
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