Updated: Apr 29, 2020
WEEPING OVER JERUSALEM: THE CONTEXT
Luke 19:41-44 tells of Jesus' weeping over Jerusalem, saying, "Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation."
Only Luke captures this sentiment by Jesus and His concern for the city, also adding His prediction for the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus' coming brings either salvation or Judgement. If only they knew that peace had arrived in the city, the city whose very name means "City of Peace.” There exists a stark contrast between the joy and proclamations of the people and the weeping of Jesus. Even those who praised His entrance and coming did not understand the destruction that was about to befall them.
THE TEMPLE: THE CONTEXT
"And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers…" (Mark 11:15).
"Those who sold" were selling kosher animals used for sacrifice in the temple. The money changers were present to change currency to the currency accepted for the expected payment of the temple tax. Allowing these things to go on in the temple site transformed a place set aside for worship, prayer, and communion with God to an open market stockyard filled with the sounds and smell of animals. Extortion ran rampant due to the increased population for Passover. It was the perfect opportunity for the money changers to increase their change fee and take advantage of the pilgrims. The chief priests, the elevated leaders of the people, benefited greatly from allowing for such events to take place. Their wealth, as seen in the excavated 6,000-square-foot mansions of the high priests, show wealth and power that was rank with corruption; they had long given up the sacredness of the temple.
The actions of the sellers, changers, and elevated leaders in what was to be a holy location spoke directly against those "things that make for peace.” Love for God and humanity was turned on its head. It was not Jesus' first time in Jerusalem. He was not a tourist viewing the sacred precincts of the temple for the first time, but as the sovereign Lord examining the institution to see whether it was fulfilling its divinely appointed mission (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol.8, p.725). Jesus was not concerned with Israel's relationship with Rome; rather, Israel's relationship with God. The bleating of animals had replaced praise, and prayer replaced by greed. By entering the temple and turning the tables and driving out the money changers, Jesus portrayed forceful authority as a defender of the house of God and gives insight into the reasons the chief priests and their supporters wanted His destruction.
THE THINGS THAT MAKE FOR PEACE: THE APPLICATION
The words of Jesus, "not one stone will be left upon another," came to pass in 70 AD. Jerusalem was destroyed, and there are still examples today of the fires and rubble of the temple stones pummeled atop one another.
The destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD begs the question; What are those things that make for peace?
Jesus' actions display that He did not stand for corruption, dishonoring God, or taking advantage of people. Jesus demonstrated a tenderness and care as ". . . the blind, and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them." (Matthew 21:14) Jesus displayed that caring for His fellow-human exemplified honor to God who created them.
Do you allow for corruption, dishonoring God, or taking advantage of people? Or, do you care, as Jesus did, for those around you, those created in the Image of God? Today, how are you party to the "things that make for peace"?
Written by Amy Flattery, Director for the Center for Holy Lands Studies.
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