PARTNERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: PART LXXIII
The Evangelist Luke recorded how Jesus felt when He saw Jerusalem:
And when Jesus drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. 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 our visitation” (Luke 19: 41-44).
IT WAS HEART-BREAKING TO SEE THE END OF THE GLORY OF ISRAEL
The Temple, the Temple! Herod’s legacy was to gain the favor of the Jews. Herod built the temple, one of the wonders of the world in white; where Yahweh once was stationed in the world. However, less than forty years down the road, the Romans did remove this gorgeous edifice from Jerusalem. Before Jesus shared His bad news concerning His death, He and his disciples were having their last look and marveled of Jerusalem. In addition to Mark’s account, concerning the end of Jerusalem and Judea, Luke, and Matthew also produced their own stories (Luke 21; Matthew 24).
And as Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left her one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”
And he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “Take heed that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places, there will be famines; this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs” (Mark 13:1-8)
JESUS TRIED TO PREPARE HIS DISCIPLES FOR THE WOES THEY WOULD FACE
Jesus, in His spiritual vision, saw his followers’ face woes and persecutions. False Christs will mislead them, and they will incite the Romans, who would defile the Jewish holy place with Caesar’s bust (Matthew 24:15-28). It was the disciples’ generation that would be the first to suffer for the real Christ and they did run from Jerusalem. Therefore, the disciples suffered at the hands of their own people, and the fanatical Pharisee by the name of Saul, who did the most harm (Acts 8-9). The first persecution scattered the believers in the Roman world with the Gospel (Acts 8:4-40). The conversion of Saul to Paul brought short peace to the Christians (Acts 9:31). Then, King Herod began to kill the Christians and scatter more of them into the Roman world. However, that did not last long (Acts 12). After that, the convert Paul, with Barnabas and John Mark, were sent out as missionaries from Antioch (Acts 13-15). It was during Paul’s second missionary tour with Silar and Timothy, that they met with Aquila and Priscilla, who were evicted from Rome by Claudius (Acts 18:2). This was the time Jesus had in mind when He told them what they would have to endure for being his disciples. During this time, the Romans did not pursue Christians, until they were regarded as being Jewish proselytes and the enemies of Rome. Jesus predicted:
But take heed to yourselves; for they will deliver you up to councils; and you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will be standing before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say; but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything away; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days!
Pray that it may not happen in winter. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if any one says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look there he is!’ do not believe it. False Christs and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; I have told you all things beforehand (Mark 13:9-23).
PRAY THAT IT MAY NOT HAPPEN IN THE WINTER
It was spring when Jesus told his disciples to prepare to move during winter. Jesus hinted that it might be winter when the Romans would destroy Jerusalem and disband Judea. What Jesus was saying made no sense to the men, who had joined Him, to see Israel blossom again and not die. I do know a little how it feels to be driven out of our home in January 1940, and again in January 1945 by the Russians. Our mother was pregnant both times and she delivered while we were on the road. At the time, I was nine and fourteen years old. And in spite of our prayers, no one could deliver us. The first time the Germans delivered us from going to Siberia, and the second time our horses out-ran the Russian army.
Jesus gave his disciples a little hope, and being a real man, Jesus, too, believed that He would return with a host of angels, and snatch his followers from the worst woes and tribulations, by shortening their suffering. He told them to watch for signs in nature and the fig tree. Things would begin to happen when the tree would be in bloom and ready to bear fruit. It would take place in their generation. Only, Jesus could not set an exact date. Death would free many from the worst to come, including some of the disciples (Revelation 9:6). And the date for the return of Christ was endlessly postponed because not all of the saints were born yet that they could be counted (Revelation 6:9-11). Things did happen in their generation, as Jesus had predicted:
But in those days, after the tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels,and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning — lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch (Mark 13:24-37).
WHILE THE JEWISH LEADERS WERE PLOTTING WITH JUDAS HOW TO DISPOSE OF JESUS QUIETLY, JESUS ENJOYED SOME EXPENSIVE PAMPERING
It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him; for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult of the people.”
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and give to the poor.” And they reproached her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. You always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could, she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him (Mark 14:1-11).
WHO WAS THE MYSTERY HOST AND WITNESS?
Who was the person who led the disciples to the Upper Room, listened in on Jesus concern and instructions to his disciples during the Passover meal? Who followed Jesus and his disciples to Gethsemane, helped enter inside the courtyard of the high priest, and was at the empty tomb telling the women that Jesus had gone to Galilee, as he had promised during his last Passover (Mark 14:28)? It is doubtful that the disciples were mentally, physically, and materially provide accommodations and amenities for at least 120 people from all over the world (Acts 1:15). It is not surprising that Luke, Matthew, and Paul accepted and incorporated nearly all of Mark into their stories and views of Jesus. Read Mark again! And now, put yourself in his shoes. Everything that Jesus predicted took place with the exception of drinking the wine in the New Kingdom (Mark 14:25).
And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the passover lamb, his disciples said to Jesus, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the passover?” And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and reay; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and wet to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover.
And when it was evening he came with the twelve. And as they were at table eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, ne whois dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
And as they were eating, he took the bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away; for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to hm, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said vehemently, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same (Mark 14:12-31).