A day of conflict for Jesus

Tuesday of the week of Jesus’ death was a day of great conflict. The tensions between Jesus and the Jewish leaders had been growing for a long time and was about to reach its peak. The Gospel of John records this climax in His ministry.

37 Although Jesus had performed so many miraculous signs before them, they still refused to believe in him, 38 so that the word of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled. He said, “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and turn to me, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory, and spoke about him. (John 12:37-41 NET)

Not everyone rejected Jesus. John says that many among the rulers believed on Him. Their faith was not strong enough to overcome their fear of being cast out of the synagogue and elicit a confession of Him (John 12:42).

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the chief priests and elders questioned His authority to do the things He was doing. It seems they were especially perturbed that He would dare do these things in the temple courts. That was where they were in control! (Matthew 21:23ff.). The intellectual sparring was followed by His scathing rebuke of them recorded in Matthew 23.

When Jesus and His disciples left the Temple that day to go out to the Mount of Olives, His disciples pointed out the magnificent buildings of the temple that had been constructed by Herod the Great. And the work continued long past the death of Herod in 4 B.C. (John 2:20).

1 Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts and walking away, his disciples came to show him the temple buildings. 2 And he said to them, “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!” (Matthew 24:1-2 NET)

In the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 (= Mark 13; Luke 21), Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in A.D. 70. The destruction was so complete that only the retaining walls around the Temple precinct were left standing. Archaeological excavations following 1967 have brought to light some of the rubble that was pushed from the platform into the Tyropoeon Valley on the western side. The stones are still impressive.

Broken stones once part of the temple precinct. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Broken stones that once were part of the temple precinct. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

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