Tuesday: Jesus Teaches in the Temple
Open Your Bible
Luke 21:1-38, Luke 22:1-2, Daniel 7:13-14
BY Guest Writer
Haunting images flashed before my eyes following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Burned into my memory is the image of a huge, steel cross that was found amidst the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center in New York City. I’ll never forget the image of smoke and dust swirling around the scorched cross standing like a beacon in the midst of the debris, as rescue workers searched for survivors buried in the ruins.
Similar violence would have haunted the Jewish people who gathered around Jesus at the temple. Throughout this Lenten season we have grappled with Jeremiah’s prophecy of judgment and destruction that became reality when the Babylonian army invaded Jerusalem and demolished Solomon’s Temple in 586 BC. The very ground under Jesus’s feet had been battered and covered in rubble when the first temple’s walls fell.
Hundreds of years later, Jesus stood and taught on the same site surrounded by an opulent new temple, and He predicted that destruction would come again. “These things that you see—the days will come when not one stone will be left on another that will not be thrown down” (Luke 21:6). Herod the Great had spared no expense in renovating and expanding the temple. Despite the structure’s significance, size, and grandeur, the ground shook and the walls fell again when Rome conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the second temple in 70 AD. Jesus’s listeners couldn’t escape the images of wreckage and neither can we.
During Lent, we pause and sit in the rubble. We choke on the smoke swirling from the sins and sorrows of the world. Natural disasters, wars, illnesses, and violence of all sorts bombard the globe. The dust stirred up by our own wrongdoing chokes us as well. Selfishness, pride, greed, envy, rage, and unbelief wage war within us every day. The cross of ashes smeared on many foreheads at the beginning of Lent symbolizes our lament as a people scorched by sin and sorrow and who need deliverance.
There is a scorched cross standing like a beacon for us too. The construction worker who found the steel cross after 9/11, Frank Silecchia, said, “I saw Calvary in the midst of all the wreckage… It was a sign… that God didn’t desert us.” Jesus has not left us in the wreckage of sin. He came to us, lived a sinless life, yet was persecuted and died on a cross like a criminal to pay for our unfaithfulness and mend our brokenness. He was battered and absorbed the attack that would have destroyed us all.
Scripture tells us that when Jesus died “the earth quaked, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51). Walls fell down again. But this time, it was the walls of sin and sorrow that were demolished. The impenetrable walls that had separated a sinful people from a holy God were in ruins. By rising from the rubble, Jesus conquered death, allowing all who believe in Him to be saved and to live forever in peace with Him. This is our hope in a sin-scorched world: Jesus has come and He will come again.
Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.