Heartbreaking and Tragic
November 2, 2021
But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes. Have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise'?" Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there (Matthew 21:15-17).
The fact that Jesus didn’t stay and rake the priests over the coals for their condemnation, the fact that He didn’t call fire down from heaven to destroy these wicked and godless priests, proves the sovereign power of God through the Holy Spirit who was in control of the entire situation. We lose sight of that sometimes as we read Scripture and as we view our own lives.
Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew the Chief Priests had rejected Him. He knew that from the first days of His ministry. He knew of their plans to kill Him. Yet His willingness to accept their rejection further demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit in His life. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . (Galatians 5:22-23). Centuries earlier the prophet Isaiah painted a graphic portrait of God’s Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12). He said the Lord would be despised and rejected of men (53:3). Jesus was fully aware of this. He could have stopped it at any moment, but that was not God’s plan. There would be no salvation for anyone if Jesus had exercised His power to stop the cross from happening.
Instead, Jesus left them and went to be with His friends in Bethany. This statement speaks volumes. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the colt, He immediately went to the Temple, cleansed the courtyard, and left. Did you ever stop and think what Jesus was thinking? I wasn’t there to ask Him, but I have a good idea. He saw the bazaar. He heard the noise. He witnessed the sin of barter and trade. He considered the attitudes and actions of the people. Where was the humble worshiper coming before God, broken in spirit, repentant, seeking forgiveness? Where were the songs of praise to the Lord for His salvation? Where were the humble priests bowing before the Lord in service to His people? The Spirit of God wasn’t there.
Jesus looked at the Temple. A monument to the ambition and achievement of the wicked King Herod. A building admired by the disciples (Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6) and the people. A building revered as sacred by the priests. But God wasn’t there. He hadn’t been there in 550 years. The glory of God left the Temple in Ezekiel 10, and according to the Scriptures, never returned. All the falderal and chaos and religious fervor was for nothing. An empty church building for empty hearts, minds, spirits, and souls. No wonder Jesus left for faithful friends in Bethany.
“Father, keep the fires of spiritual worship kindled in our lives so that our worship may be in spirit and in truth. Never let it be said of us that we are spiritually empty people practicing our religion in an empty church building. May Your Spirit fill our prayer and praise each time we gather together. Amen.”