On the way down the western descent of the Mount of Olives Jesus had a vision (I believe). He saw the city before Him 38 years in the future. And the picture was so horrible He began to sob bitterly. What began as an insurrection by zealots four years earlier had ended with the Roman 5th, 10th, 12th and 14th legions (80,000 men) building a siege wall around the city to starve out its defenders. Using battering rams they would breach the walls and capture the entire city, along with the Temple complex, within four months. The Roman general, Titus, would order all who had survived to be taken captive and the buildings including the Temple to be burned and leveled to the ground. By the way, Jewish Christians, because of Jesus prophecies (Lk 21:20-24), would flee the city on the eve of the siege and take refuge in the city of Pella in what is today Jordan. The Romans later rebuilt Jerusalem and named it Aelia Capitolina (130 A.D.) putting a temple to Jupiter on the place where the destroyed Jewish Temple had been.
It must have been some portion of this devastation that the Holy Spirit showed Jesus as He looked at Jerusalem that Palm Sunday. He had already prophesied as much (Lk 19:27; Mt 22:7), but seeing it was overwhelming because He loved the people and longed to protect them (Lk 13:34, 35). After composing Himself He explained why such tragedy would come. He said there were two reasons: First, the people would choose the wrong path to peace, and second, they would reject the Savior whom God had sent to them. What happened as a result is recorded in history, but frankly, people continue today making these same mistakes and bringing devastation into their lives. So lets listen carefully to what Jesus is saying because what could be a greater blessing than to know the things which make for peace and recognize the time of our visitation?
Saturday through Tuesday
SATURDAY: traveling south from Galilee to Jerusalem (down the Jordan River Valley): 1) Jericho: (in town) Zaccheus, (outside) Bartimaeus; 2) Jerusalem wilderness road: parable of the minas (Lk 19:11-27; Mt 22:7)
SUNDAY: approaching Jerusalem: 1) Bethphage and Bethany: securing a donkey colt to ride on (Zech 9:9); 2) Mount of Olives/near the descent: pilgrim procession; Psalm 118; stones will cry out; 3) Mount of Olives/approaching the city: saw and wept, He sees in the Spirit; He describes what He sees, the coming Roman siege in 70 A.D. (38 years in the future); 4) entered Temple: looked around at everything; returned to Bethany (Mk 11:11)
MONDAY: returning from Bethany to Jerusalem: fig tree (Mk 11:12-14); entered the Temple; drove sellers and money changers out of the Court of the Gentiles (Mk 11:15-19; Lk 19:45-48)
TUESDAY: Bethany (?) overnight and again returning to the city: pass the fig tree again on the way into Jerusalem in the morning (Mk 11:20); withered from the roots
Interpreting the Vision
After He saw the vision, Jesus explained why these terrible things would take place. He gave two reasons:
1) Things which make for peace - This is what Jesus was trying to explain to Israel: You think the Romans are the problem. You want to drive them out in your own power, or you think peace will come if God will just send the Messiah to get rid of your enemies. But your enemies arent the problem. Your lack of spiritual health is the problem. When that is restored God will cause even your enemies to be at peace with you (Prov 16:7). Youre fighting the wrong battle, using the wrong weapons. Theres a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Prov 14:12; 16:25), and thats the path youve chosen. If you had turned to Me I would have taught you to fight with entirely different weapons (Lk 6:27-38; Ro 12:18-21).
2) Recognize the time of your visitation - There are special moments when God comes and offers Himself to us. We dont pick those moments. They are unexpected and if we reject Him the sustaining care He has been providing us is lifted. We may have been unaware we were receiving such care until its gone.
Cursing of the fig tree (Mk 11:12-19, 20-22)
nothing but leaves (a malfunctioning tree)
it was not the season for figs (Therefore be on the alert for you for not know which day your Lord is coming, Mt 24:42).
Symbolism: The Messiah has come to examine His fig tree (the Temple and religious leaders) to look for spiritual fruit, but there were only leaves (elaborate buildings, sacrifices, priests, the Court of the Gentiles filled with sellers and money-changers rather than Gentiles seeking Israels God). So He said, May no one ever eat fruit from you again! (vs 14, 15).
38 years later that temple was torn down and burned with a great fire, and never rebuilt to this day. Nor will one be built until the antichrist allows a new temple to be built on that site. When its completed he will enter that temple and the final 3 1/2 years of the great tribulation will begin (Mk 13:1-4, 14)
Mark 13: 5-13 - first 3 1/2 years; Mark 13:14-25 - second 3 1/2 years
Parable of the vine growers (Mk 11:27; 12:1-12). Jesus exposes the motive behind the religious leaders opposition to Him (v 7): they want to control Israel. They dreaded the arrival of Gods king just as had Herod (Mt 2:1-8; 13-21), because He would replace their authority. They too would have to repent and become His followers. His humble arrival removed their fear of Him (no angel armies) and thus they felt safe to respond honestly. He caught them off-guard, unprepared unaware of what was happening.
1) Things which make for peace
Like the people of that day we may not recognize that our own spiritual disobedience is the real cause of turmoil in our lives, or, if its not our fault, that we still have a part to play in restoring peace. Our response must not be, God, help me get rid of these people but rather, God, why do these conflicts occur?
What have I done? (confess, repent)
What have I not done? (confess, repent)
If Im not at fault what must I do to allow your peace to be restored?
The things God says make for peace are quite different than what our natural minds would expect. In Micah 6:8 the Lord gives us a simple outline that points us in the right direction:
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Michah 6:8).
Justice: to deliberately undo acts of injustice (devaluing of humans) this includes living purely for impurity always violates others).
Wapato, Ndebela: this isnt crazy. Its a little piece of normal. Its what should have been done for centuries. Whats crazy is that it hasnt been done.
Isaiahs fast (Is 58)
Kindness (mercy): to forgive, to overlook offenses and keep living (see the bigger picture, its not about you)
Reconcile, speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), remove the arrow from their side
Humility: Surrender to His Lordship and ways
Worship Him by the way we live our lives
Obey when He asks us to walk in faith
Maintain an intimate relationship with God
2) The time of our visitation
Do we recognize the time of our visitation, those moments when the Lord arrives and offers to take control of our lives? What will He find when He looks at us: leaves (empty religion) or fruit (the presence of the Spirit, true worship, a love for the lost...)? Have we seen a lifting of His sustaining hand (fig tree) and maybe even the loss of all weve built for ourselves? From Gods side of the equation its never too late to welcome Him into our heart (Rev 3:20). From our side, the more we harden our hearts and say no, the more deceived we become, and the harder it is to repent.
Jesus second lesson really must come first. Before I can learn and obey the things which make for peace I must recognize the time of my visitation and welcome my King. I must open the door when He knocks.
1) Describe a situation in which God used you to bring peace to a troubled situation.
2) Did you say no to Jesus before you finally said yes? If so, arent you glad He visited you more than once? What caused you to finally welcome your King?
3) Describe a time when you helped to undo some sort of injustice. Why did you do this?