In the traditional Passion week schedule the “Olivet discourse” takes center stage for today. This day also marks when Judas made his pact of betrayal.
I was going through my past posts (that were erased) and found out that I didn’t follow the traditional schedule. I don’t have a post on the discussion Jesus had with His disciples on the Tuesday. I will focus on the traditional event today and post one from the previous march through this Advent season. That post focuses more on the ‘before they reach Jerusalem’ time frame.
When I went through the reading that traditionally goes with the Tuesday observances I noticed that the “Olivet discourse” is pretty much a misnomer. I would title this day “Temple Battle.” This day is where we hear Jesus teaching in the Temple the most. He does battle with all the different religious sects and silences them. As a result of this battle they decide they WILL kill Jesus at their first opportunity, people be damned. They have had all they can stomach.
Jesus intentionally drove them to this point. He KNEW their plans were to wait until after the Passover season to lay hands on Him. God’s plan called for Jesus’ death to happen during Passover. Judas’ actions will allow them to step up their timeline to meet God’s timeline.
While looking into the timeline God wanted for Jesus’ work I ran into something that made me stop and do some thinking. In Exodus 12:3 we see that God told the people to choose their Passover lamb on the 10th of the month. They were to separate it out from the other lambs and take special care of it for the next four days. ON the 14th of the month they were then to kill that lamb.
Looking at Jesus’ last visit in Jerusalem we see Him arriving on the Sunday, the 10th on Nissan. He then spends His days teaching the people; separating Himself as the Messiah. On the 14th He is crucified. For a Wednesday crucifixion His death would have to occur just as the day was changing from the 13th to the 14th. For a Thursday crucifixion His death would occur just before the day changed to the 15th. Thursday actually works with the three days and three nights requirement. Here is what I came up with, counting out the time using the Jewish method of the day starting at twilight. Thursday twilight – Friday morning (night 1), Friday day – evening (day 1), Friday twilight – Saturday morning (night 2), Saturday morning – evening (day 2), Saturday twilight – Sunday morning (night 3), Sunday morning (day 3).
This does not leave time for the women to get and prepare the spices. This would put two Sabbaths back to back. No break day on which to shop or work. This also stretches the third day a bit by giving it mere minutes.
I simply thought the fact that Jesus was singled out as special on the Sunday, the 10th, before and ‘watched over’ during the days leading up to His crucifixion went very well with the preparations required for the Passover lamb.
Back to our traditionally scheduled observances. Mark and Luke go into great detail about this day. Matthew tells us of Jesus’ interactions with the religious leaders but doesn’t take us to the mountain top with His disciples. John gives us broad strokes and the meaning behind this final conflict; identifying Jesus as the Messiah.
My favorite of Jesus’ encounters is when He is asked by what authority He does His work. Here we see plainly that the religious leaders KNEW the truth but they refused to admit it. Doing so would condemn them by their own hands. I ALMOST feel sorry for them because they were ‘caught between a rock and a hard place.’ They risked losing everything if they told the truth. And the people would have risen up in revolt against Rome if their religious leaders agreed that Jesus was the Messiah. This was NOT in God’s plan!
This is also the day when Jesus took notice of a single solitary widow. She was one of the poorest people in the Temple that day. She loved the Lord enough to give Him ALL she had. Not her leftovers but EVERYTHING she had to live on. I wonder if she had any notion of where her next meal would even come from when she dropped her meager offering into the box. Man didn’t notice her but God did through His own Son. I have a feeling she never went hungry again. I bet God arranged for her, maybe in the same way He did for the widow who fed Elijah.
After all the confrontations and Jesus’ ‘people watching’ in the Temple, He and His disciples head out of town. This is where Mark and Luke share His message on Mt. Olive. This is actually where Jesus spent His nights; in Bethany which is on the eastern slope of the Mt. of Olives. Here Jesus sits with His disciples and gives them a broad outline of the things to come AFTER His sacrifice is completed.
What Jesus shared with His disciples that evening looks a LOT like what we are going through in our world today. The wars and rumors of wars, the famine and pestilence, and ‘natural disasters’ increasing. There are still many more signs to come but I can feel God getting ready for that defining moment. The moment He turns to His Son and says, “It’s time. Go bring My people home.” THAT moment is the whole reason for this week. Without Jesus’ sacrifice it wouldn’t be possible.
Lord Jesus, I find it VERY interesting how You know just how far to push to make man’s plans conform to God’s timeline. I have a feeling You are still in the ‘pushing’ business even now. I wonder if I will be one that hears the first call that protects the church during the worst that is to come. I know it would do no good to ask that question because it is one God isn’t even answering for You. Do You ever think, “Is it time yet?” or do You simply go on about Your business? Are Your ‘bags packed’ and ‘waiting by the door’? Are You ‘checking off the boxes’ of what must come first? I’m pretty sure You are better at waiting than I am. These are certainly things I would be doing.
You pretty much did that while on earth. You gave Your disciples a ‘list’ of what to expect and let them check off the boxes as You walked on. I wonder how much easier they would have rested if they had really honed in on the “I’ll rise again in three days” item on Your list. The religious leaders honed in on it.
I’m checking off other boxes in my life. Ones having to do with making my home more special. It’s exciting to see it come together but NEVER let me forget that this is ALL temporary. Don’t let it become my god or my whole focus. I want to keep YOU as my focus, especially during this season. You deserve my focus all the time but this season reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for. THINGS mean NOTHING! YOU and having You as my Savior is what matters. Never let me forget that!
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The Bold Line — looks at Jesus determination to get from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’ no matter what.