03 April 2012
Diary of a Disciple: Day 1002
by Dr Mark Keown
Wow! Today was a really strange day! Not at all what I expected! Yesterday ended with killing the fatted calf and today began with yet another great feed; Martha’s unleavened bread is to die for. Then we headed into Jerusalem again. No big crowds today, but the anticipation in the group was massive. I noted that the women, especially Martha’s sister Mary, were as excited as the men. Some of them are also keen to be involved in the war – I heard them talking about Deborah last night. I am not so sure, but Yeshua doesn’t seem fazed at all. They are getting more involved since Mary sat at his feet. He is so inclusive. Anyway, we were well fed and ready for war!
All except for Yeshua who hadn’t eaten with us; he was starving, the result of another night praying on the Mount. I really think he should have had a feed and got some sleep for the conflict ahead.
As we headed toward Jerusalem we walked past a fig-tree and, hungry as he was, Yeshua wanted a feed. He chose it because it was covered in leaves and so should have had fruit on it – even though it was early in the season for fruit. But he found nothing there. We were surprised that he was really annoyed. We heard him speak to the tree, cursing it with barrenness, and then moving on. I had never seen him do anything quite like it before. Normally he speaks words of life and fruitfulness. As usual, there is likely some double meaning in this – perhaps it is symbolic of the end of the Romans. Whatever, he seemed in a bit of a mood. As I thought about it, that pleased me – he needs to be full of fire to be ready to attack the Romans. They won’t go down easily! As it turned out he was fired up, but not to do what we expected.
We entered Jerusalem again. We were keyed up. After all, today was the day he would begin the revolution, or at least get preparations under way. He led us to the temple, not that surprising – the ideal place to call the people of Israel to his side. The leaders were gathered watching him. But none of us, them included, expected what happened next. He went into the outer court, the court of the Gentiles. He pulled out some cords of rope he had brought with him and wandered around, looking intense. He wove them together as he walked – perhaps in preparation for a sign I thought. Suddenly, without warning, he went ballistic. With great force, he took what I now know was a self-made whip, and started driving out the sellers, overturning the tables of those who took the money from the pilgrims for sacrifices, and the seats of the pigeon sellers. The whole sacrifice system ground to a halt, such was his force! He cried out, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” and “you have made it a den of robbers.” We all recognised the words – they were the words of the prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah. Their words were not well received 600–700 years ago, what was he doing?
As you would expect, he was soon challenged by the leaders seeking a sign. Now was his moment! I wondered what he would do? I am sure it would be good. Instead of a sign however, he said something about destroying the temple and raising it up in three days – what the? It is enough to stop the sacrifices! Destroy the temple! Whose side is he on? Naturally they asked how he could rebuild a temple that had taken 46 years to build in three days! He gave no answer. Yeshua talks in riddles. Why didn’t he just do a sign to demonstrate who he is?
I was stunned and totally confused! I wondered, “are you crazy Yeshua? If you want the leaders and men of Israel to join you, this is not the way to do it! Shutting down the sacrifice system and provocation is not the way to get them involved in the revolution. They will kill you!”
The other disciples and I looked around terrified. The leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees, members of the Sanhedrin, priests and Levites, withdrew and stood in huddles talking. To say that they were furious is putting it mildly! – they looked thoroughly murderous! I thought they would arrest him there and then, but they held back. I am not sure why. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had attacked him. I even thought about stopping him myself.
I even wondered if he was having a breakdown? Many leaders believe he has a demon – this kind of looked like he does! I have no idea what to make of it all! Unless this is some crazy preamble to revealing who he is? I still have hope, but only a glimmer!
After a few hours of this mayhem he turned and left the Temple courts. I still don’t know how he got away with it. We followed him back to Bethany in total disarray. This was not what we expected. A day that had started so glorious and hopeful is now in ruins. He will really have an uphill climb now to win the leaders over. Who is the real enemy here? He seems hell-bent of antagonising his own people – I thought it was all about the Kingdom of Israel! Where was this going?
Now we are back in Bethany. This time the food doesn’t interest me. I think I will go for a walk with some of the guys to see if we can make sense of it. Our hopes are in tatters! Where is this going?