Prophets like Zechariah delivered God’s promise to restore his kingdom after the exile. What they said informed Jesus’ kingdom ministry.
Jesus was not the first to proclaim the kingdom of God. That was already Israel’s story when God anointed David to rule on earth, and when God established Israel as his nation at Sinai. It was the hope for the nations promised to Abraham. It was the covenant God made with all people through Noah. By design, humans exist as images of the heavenly sovereign in his earthly creation.
What was unique was Jesus’ vision of how the kingdom of heaven would be restored to the earth. There was a whole history of getting off-track in the generations of Adam, Noah, Israel, and David. Then it completely fell apart when Babylon took the nation into captivity, destroying the symbols of God’s kingship: the house of God (with the ark that represented his throne), and the house of David (the anointed kings who that represented his reign).
So, how did Jesus envision the restoration of God’s reign? In part, his kingdom vision was shaped by the promises God gave through the prophets, particularly Zechariah.
Continue reading “Zechariah’s hope of kingdom restoration (Zechariah 1–2)”
After providing pastoral support to his followers, Jesus spoke plainly about the horrors of Jerusalem’s demise and the fall of the temple.
Jesus expected the Jerusalem temple to be destroyed? The temple hierarchy maybe, but the literal temple buildings? The disciples wondered if they’d heard him right.
Matthew went to great lengths to set the scene for this discourse. Arriving in Jerusalem as king, Jesus’ first act was overturning the temple (21:12-13). He called the leaders in God’s house bandits in a den — the phrase Jeremiah used to explain why God abandoned his house, leaving it (and the city) vulnerable to destruction (Jeremiah 7:11). Jesus says the second temple was occupied by murderers who were about to complete what their ancestors started — killing the one God sent them (23:32-36). What hope has a city that won’t heed the warnings of its king? (23:37)
Tragically, the second temple and its city sealed its fate (23:38). The time for warnings is over. Jesus walks away (24:1).
But the disciples can’t leave it at that. They call Jesus back, drawing his attention to the temple buildings (24:2). This is not a picture of country-hick tourists gawking at something they’ve never seen. Like Jesus, they’ve all been there every year for the festivals. Like Korah’s sons, they feel the attachment to this place: How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty (Psalm 84:1). This house is where their heavenly sovereign said he would dwell among them … to meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites (Exodus 25:8, 22).
Surely Jesus can’t just walk away like that, leaving the city to its fate?
Continue reading “The fall of the Jerusalem temple (Matthew 24:15-28)”
Why was Jesus angry with the temple?
Why did Jesus overthrow the temple? Was he angry to find traders in the courtyard? Did he expect to find people in quiet meditation and prayer instead? What was the temple, and what was Jesus doing there?
Continue reading “Why did Jesus overturn the temple? (Matthew 21:12-13)”
“Something greater than the temple is here?” How could a Jewish person say that?
Open Matthew 12:6.
Imagine for a moment you’ve always had a fascination with Windsor Castle, its architecture and 39 generations of monarchs stretching all the way back to William the Conqueror. One day, all your dreams come true: you’re invited to a royal banquet at Windsor Castle.
You arrive, and you’re ushered in for the first time. You pause to breathe its air and smell the history. You wonder what stories these stones could tell. You’re so engrossed that you don’t realize when Queen Elizabeth enters to speak with her guests. A voice brings you back to the present, “Something greater than the Castle is here.” How would you feel if that voice was not one of her aides, but the monarch herself?
Jesus meant to embarrass his opponents with some of this audacious royal claims, but this one takes the cake:
Matthew 12 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.
What did he mean? What in all Judea could be greater than the temple? Continue reading “Greater than the temple? (Matthew 12:6)”