FAILURE TO DISCERN THE DAY OF MESSIANIC VISITATION LEADS TO SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES
Do you have the sense that the Messiah is visiting you today – calling for repentance and faith? Do you have a heart of compassion for those who seem oblivious to the hope offered in the gospel? Are you so preoccupied with greed and wealth-grabbing that you are missing out on the opportunity to call on God in prayer? Are you experiencing the peace with God that the Messiah came to bring or is your life caught up in turmoil and instability? Are you listening intently to the Word of God, hanging on its every word, or are you looking for ways to attack Christianity and try to discredit it? Jesus deals with all of these important questions as He enters Jerusalem and the temple and begins his final week of ministry before going to the Cross.
I. (:41-42) LAMENTING OVER JERUSALEM
A. (:41) Grief
“And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it,”
B. (:42) Regret
“saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace!
But now they have been hidden from your eyes.’”
Geldenhuys: He realizes only too well that it is already too late; their persistence in their wicked unbelief has blinded the to the opportunities for redemption still remaining; through their own fault the way to salvation is hidden from their sight.
II. (:43-44) LEVELING OF JERUSALEM
A. (:43-44a) Devastating Destruction
1. (:43a) Siege Against the City
“For the days shall come upon you
when your enemies will throw up a bank before you,”
2. (:43b) Surround the City
“and surround you,
and hem you in on every side,”
3. (:44a) Sack the City
“and will level you to the ground and your children within you,
and they will not leave in you one stone upon another,”
Lenski: The city and her children or inhabitants were to be dashed to the ground, the latter to be slain; and this destruction was to be so radical as not to leave one stone on another – an absolute and utter ruin.
B. (:44b) Fatal Flaw – Leading to Serious Consequences
“because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
Morris: it is the divine visitation in the presence of God’s Messiah among them that the people had failed to know, “God’s moment”, as NEB translates. There is an ignorance that is innocent, but there is also an ignorance that is culpable. These men had the revelation God had made known in the scriptures of the Old Testament. They had the continuing evidence that God was active in the life and ministry of Jesus. They could see in Him that god had not forgotten His people. There was every reason for them to have welcomed Jesus as His disciples did. But they refused to accept all this evidence. They rejected God’’ Messiah. They would not have to live with the consequences of their rejection. It is this that brought forth Jesus’ tears.
Lenski: God’s looking in upon us with his grace continues until a certain time; then those that refuse that grace shall receive a far different visitation from him whom they have spurned.
III. (:45-46) LIBERATING THE TEMPLE –
IMPORTANCE OF SPEAKING TO GOD
A. (:45) Purge of Temple Merchants
“And He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were selling,”
MacArthur: He started His ministry, you remember, in John chapter 2, by cleansing the temple. He went into the temple when He first arrived at the beginning of His ministry in Jerusalem, sat down in a premeditated manner, made a whip, and cleaned out the temple. That’s how it started in John 2, verses 13 to 17, and that’s how, 3 years later, it ends – with the 2nd assault on the corruption of the temple. . .
Three years has changed nothing. His focus is unaltered, back to the temple. He passed over many issues – social issues, economic issues, political issues, issues of justice and equity. He saw all that was out of harmony. He saw all that was not as it should be, but He also knew that the only way to remedy anything is to have a right relationship with God. His ministry was always about the kingdom and about true worship.
Donald Miller: His action in driving from the Temple those who were defiling it as a business center, was wholly in accord with Malachi’s description. He was to “purify the sons of Levi and refine them like god and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord” (Mal. 3:3). Jesus’ attack on the High Priesthood here could hardly have been a more exact fulfillment of this prophetic word.
B. (:46) Indictment for Subverting the Mission of the Temple
“saying to them, ‘It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’
but you have made it a robbers’ den.’”
Anyabwile: We are God’s temple (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19). We are also his priesthood. So we ought to be a people of prayer. We can never pray enough if we want to maintain the peace of God.
Geldenhuys: Instead of using the temple as a place consecrated to God where He could be worshipped in spirit and in truth, the Jews, through all kinds of business transacted in the courts of the temple, were degrading it to a den o thieves – a place where people who were carrying on their businesses in a dishonest manner, and were robbing other people, could enjoy a safe refuge.
W A Criswell: “Those who bought and sold” refers to merchants who sold animals that were needed for the sacrifices, and other things like wine and oil which were also needed for some offerings. The heart of the problem was commercialism in holy precincts, as well as unequal exchange rates and the attachment of exorbitant prices to the purchase of sacrificial animals. Through sharp dealing, merchants and money changers were fleecing the pilgrims. The commercial enterprise in the temple was offensive for more reasons than merely the location of the sellers. Exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals made offering a sacrifice so costly that the poor were almost certainly either excluded or impoverished. The deliberate falsification of rates of exchange in changing Roman for Jewish coins afforded still other unlawful profits for the temple.
IV. (:47-48) LISTENING IN THE TEMPLE –
IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING TO GOD
A. (:47) Danger While Teaching Daily in the Temple
“And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him,”
Bruce Hurt: And He was teaching daily in the temple – One has to love this simple statement. Jesus’ death is imminent and He knows it and yet what does He deem to be of the highest value, the greatest yield with the precious seconds He has left on this earth which He created? Teaching! Luke 20:1 adds “preaching the Gospel!” Given that we “have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21) and we claim that we abide “in Him (we) ought (ourselves) to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6), teaching and proclaiming the Gospel! Time was running out quickly for Jesus and yet Jesus continues daily teaching and preaching! Beloved, if we are truly His followers, our holy charge, our holy privilege is to be diligent to redeem the short time left in each of our lives and enabled by His Spirit and His all sufficient Word of Truth, we should be about our Father’s business just as was our Lord! Are you? The sands of time are running out of the hour glass and eternity is your doorstep. Beloved, do not waste your life in frivolous, trivial activities. God grant you the desire and the power to redeem the time teaching and proclaiming the Gospel for the glory of the Lord.
B. (:48) Devotion of the Listening Crowd Offered Temporary Protection
“and they could not find anything that they might do,
for all the people were hanging upon His words.”
Lenski: This love of the pilgrims for Jesus held the Sanhedrists in check.