Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Sunday, August 4, 2013
|"Blessed are the cheesemakers?"|
And why shouldn't they be questioning this fact? John reports that the crowds who listened to Jesus were confused as to what he was saying. There were debates both about what he was saying and about his qualifications to be the Messiah.
Jesus talked much about "the Son of Man", but that title could mean many things and it wasn't completely clear that he was speaking about himself.
Peter called Jesus "the Messiah", which Jesus didn't directly affirm in the book of Mark, and told the disciples not to speak about this.
Demons openly proclaimed him "the son of God" a messianic title, but Jesus told them to shut up.
Jesus accepted titles that declared his Lordship, like "Son of David" or "the Son of God" but he never affirmed them. Was he just being polite?
All of this is quite confusing, really. And many other indications, from a critical standpoint aren't absolute, such as later declarations by disciples or claims of fulfilled prophecies which could be interpreted many ways.
1. Jesus healed
John the Baptist asked Jesus through messengers whether he was the "one" they waited for or not. Jesus only demonstrated who he was, he didn't speak it. "They blind can see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the poor have the gospel preached to them." These are actions that should happen at the center of God's kingdom, the temple. Instead, Jesus himself was acting like a mobile temple, leaving healing and salvation in his wake. This is again vague, but to heal is to claim to have the center of God's power on earth, to be the center of God's kingdom.
This action wasn't just some strange ritual but was a clear declaration of Jesus' intentions that the leaders and people of Jerusalem clearly understood. They knew that to enter Jerusalem on a colt with a number of disciples declaring his victory was a clear reference to Zechariah 9-- "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." This does not mean that the inhabitants of Jerusalem believed in Jesus because of this fulfillment. Rather, they would see this Galilean woodworker as an upstart. However, this action clearly speaks to Jesus' intention-- that he is the king of Jerusalem, the Messiah.
In the first century there were multiple, even contrary, ideas of what the Messiah was. The term means "anointed one" and there were three offices in ancient Israel in which one could be anointed: King, prophet or priest. Some declared that the Messiah already arrived in the person of the High Priest, who, for all purposes, acted like a king over the Jewish people. The real target of Jesus wasn't Herod or the Romans, but the High Priest and his power base-- the Sanhedrin and their representatives through the synagogue system. It was this well-organized, structured theocracy that Rome feared.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the day after his colt declaration, he re-ordered the Temple according to love. The High Priest had approved of money exchange agents to set up their tables within the temple, in the only place where women and Gentiles could worship YHWH. Jesus got rid of them, making room for true worship. In changing the High Priest's policy, Jesus was declaring himself the replacement High Priest, the one who can order the temple. Thus Jesus declared himself the anointed King of Jerusalem and the anointed Priest of Jerusalem.
You couldn't just steal something in the Roman empire and get crucified. When modern translations declare some of those crucified to be "thieves", they give a wrong impression. You had to be a non-citizen in open rebellion against Rome to be crucified. These "thieves" weren't just robbers, but they saw themselves as Robin Hood-- bandits in opposition to an oppressive government, targeting wealthy Romans, or Roman supporters.
For Jesus to be crucified, it means that he was seen to be a rebel against Rome. None of his actions would seem to be worthy of that. Teaching, healing, discussing interpretation of the law, even rebuking priests and elders are nothing to be crucified over. But to declare oneself a king in direct opposition to Caesar's rule is certainly a rebellious act.
If Jesus' act of entering Jerusalem on a colt is seen as declaring messiahship, if Jesus did make a statement about coming in the clouds of heaven to the Sanhedrin, if he claimed to replace the high priest though his actions in the temple, then there is enough evidence for him to be declared a rebel, and to be crucified. Certainly it is evidence that Jesus' enemies felt they could say he was declaring himself to be Caesar's replacement.
Once scholars accept these four actions as declarations of messiahship, the rest of the story of the gospels falls into place and all the details make sense, not just as a story but as history.
When God announced to Jesus that Jesus was to be the Messiah, the king of
, the only ones
who heard this announcement was Jesus, John and the spirit world. No other human knew of God’s announcement,
and Jesus did all he could to keep it secret.
Finally, Peter figured it out, and Jesus told them his plans to take
over Jerusalem :
He would be rejected by the priests, killed and then risen from the dead. The disciples never understood this part, but
they were interested in letting people know that Jesus was the king. Finally, they got their opportunity at the
beginning of Passover week—a Jewish festival.
At the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life, the Jesus
began to give Jerusalem
hints at God’s call for him. Jerusalem
In ancient societies, if a king or emperor went out to war, and then came back to his city victorious, those in the city would spread their coats in front of him and palm branches, giving him honor as he came into the city. In the prophecies of the Jewish Scriptures, it says that when the Messiah comes to
that he would come on a colt, and everyone would be proclaiming, “Blessed is he
who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jerusalem
While staying at Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s house one morning, Jesus approached his disciples and said, “Today we are going to enter
.” He turned to two disciples specifically and
said, “In the next village we pass by, you will see a young donkey tied
up. Take that donkey, and there will be
someone who asks you what you are doing.
Tell him, ‘The Lord has need of it,’ and he will let you take it.” The disciples did as he said, and someone did
approach them and he did let them take the donkey after they had said what
Jesus told them to. Jerusalem
Just outside of
, the large group of Jesus’
disciples gathered around him. Many of them
placed their coats on the donkey, and Jesus sat upon the donkey, showing his
authority over his disciples. Then he
rode the colt into Jerusalem ,
and the disciples placed coats and palm leaves onto the road in front of
him. All the while, the disciples were
shouting out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and “Hosanna
in the highest!” Jerusalem
After the victory parade, Jesus and his disciples went directly to the temple area. Jesus looked closely at all that was happening in the temple—some were offering sacrifices, some were praying, and in the outer court (where the Gentiles and women could worship) some were buying and selling animals for sacrifices and exchanging Roman money for temple money, so visitors could buy the sacrifices. After looking at all this, Jesus said nothing, but went back to
that night. Bethany
The next day, Jesus and his disciples returned back to
. Jesus went immediately to the temple, and
began knocking down the tables in the outer court, where people were exchanging
money. Then he gathered some cords of rope and started whipping the places
where people were selling animals for sacrifice. He shouted out, “This is my Father’s house—a
place of prayer for the nations! But you
have made it a gathering place for rebels!”
Many people in Jerusalem
saw this and were pleased, and they listened to his teaching. Jerusalem
This action angered many people. The ruling priests were upset because they arranged for the selling to go on in the temple court. Others were upset at the implication that Jesus had the right to enter
as a victorious king and then to make decisions about how the temple was
ruled. “Who does he think he is?” they