We have arrived in Jerusalem with Jesus and His disciples. This is the last week in Jesus’ earthly life. Jesus spends the days of this week in Jerusalem but the nights in Bethany. He went there after yesterday’s story and is back in town today to do a bit of house cleaning and to minister to the people in need.
The temple during festival times was a hub of activity. People from far and wide came to offer their annual sacrifices. Those who came from close by brought theirs with them, while distant travelers brought money to purchase appropriate sacrifices at the temple. I have learned through many sources that those working in the temple would “inform” those who brought animals that their animals were not acceptable and require them to purchase one from the “approved” stock. The money brought also had to be exchanged for “acceptable” money. Of course the merchants and moneychangers were the ones who always came out ahead in the deals. These temple merchants and moneychangers were cheating the people at every opportunity. Thus, Jesus’ statement about a den of thieves. I’m certain the average Israelite was more than happy to see Jesus put this bunch in their place.
Jesus saw this activity every time He came for the festivals, but this trip was different. Jesus was different this trip too. He was in your face confrontational with the religious leaders. I believe part of that was to give them the final push they needed to actually go through with their plans of killing Him on His schedule. The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead but they wanted it done in secret. Jesus’ plan called for Him to be offered as a sacrifice publicly and in the place of the Passover lamb. Jesus’ actions this last week enraged the religious leaders to the point that they didn’t care what it took, Jesus was going down!
After Jesus cleared the temple of the “robbers” He began helping those who came to the temple to beg. The blind and the lame came to Jesus for help and He healed every one of them. This was nothing unusual for Jesus, but there was another layer to today’s activities. In the temple there were children singing out praises to Him. I don’t know if they were echoing what they heard yesterday or if they were responding to His acts today, but the religious leaders were incensed by it.
“Yesterday was bad enough, now You have enlisted these children into your twisted plans. Do You not hear what they are saying?”
“Yes, I hear it. Haven’t you ever read the scriptures? ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’ (verse 16)”, replies Jesus.
Jesus is not disturbed one bit by the praise coming from these children. He is right at home in the midst of it. Such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Hosanna to the Son of David! Did these children recognize the significance of what they were saying? Did they realize how tender Jesus’ heart was towards them? Did Jesus stop and talk with them or give them a reassuring touch? Did their parents join in? This adulation is what Jesus deserved, not the scorn or the cross. But He willingly embraced both. For today though, the cross was still to come. Today, Jesus received what the Father ordained from before the foundations of the world were laid.
After receiving the children’s praise, Jesus left Jerusalem for the night. He and His disciples went back to Bethany for the night. I wonder who they were staying with. Were there crowds surrounding Him at this place too? Was He healing the sick in Bethany too during this final week? Were all His teachings and works done in Jerusalem that week? Or did God ordain Bethany as a restful place for Jesus during this climactic week?
Father God, You had a specific agenda for Jesus’ last week. There was a schedule ordained for everything that happened that last week, from Jesus’ entry into the city to His last moments on the cross. The “bill was being tallied” that week, with the final payment due at the end. This must have been the most stressful week in all of Jesus’ life. You give us a glimpse of the toll it took on Him in the garden. And in that same scene, He shows us the absolute dedication He has to Your plan. “If there is any other way… yet, not My will but Yours be done.” I am cranky over a little lost sleep. I have no idea how Jesus managed this week.
The praise of the children; did it calm Jesus’ heart? Did You send it just for that purpose? When I think of the sounds of the children praising Him, I think of sitting back and listening to my favorite soothing music. It brings me peace and refreshing. Was this one of the times of refreshing You placed into this week just for Jesus? You do that time and time again in my life. When things get too overwhelming, I often notice that You will send something to me as a sign that You understand what I am facing, that I am not facing it alone, and that You tenderly care for me. During those reminder times You put a song in my heart or a word from a friend. Those gifts directly from You sustain me in my times of trouble. I believe You showed me just how lovingly You demonstrated Your love during this stressful time for Jesus. You gave Your only Son the amazing gift of the children’s praise. Thank You gracious Father for Your demonstrations of love, to Jesus and to me.