STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK – Temple Mount, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
Angry murmurs were coming from the Pharisees and scribes, while confusion was coming from his own group. They were caught off guard. They didn’t expect and understand why he was attacking them. Jesus criticized them for taking the place of honor at banquets, for wearing such ostentatious clothing, for encouraging people to call them Rabbi. For this he reminded the people that it was not them who are their true leader but only Christ. He was telling people that the true servants of God are not them who exult themselves but those that humbles himself. Some of the Pharisees were loudly protesting, while some were trying to maintain decorum. His own followers were probably relieved that things were calming down. But apparently, he was not done yet. This time, he turned to Pharisees and scribes and delivered some very scathing rebukes each attacking their hypocrisies.
Every one of the rebukes started with “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” For every ‘woe’ shouted Cornelius cringed knowing what an explosive situation they’re in. He signaled Cestus to be at a ready. He checked on his dagger that was hidden under the sash of his back but decided not to pull it out. They positioned themselves on Jesus’ left flank two steps lower from him. The Twelve formed a protective circle while there were about twenty or more other disciples between them and the crowd. Cornelius also sent Jacob, Trax and some of the women to retreat far behind Jesus deeper among the colonades.
Like the pounding of a nail into wood, every rebuke touched a sensitive nerve most in their pride, but some in their conscience. When Jesus accused the Pharisees for being energetic to make proselytes of the Jewish religion and when they succeed, Jesus charged, “You make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” In other words, the Pharisees and their proselytes both would end up in eternal damnation. Most protested by jeering and calling Jesus a devil. But there a few who were notably disturbed.
On Jesus’ third woe, as he ridiculed the trickery of the Pharisees, who held that swearing by the gold of the temple bound the oath. Just as Jesus was denouncing them as both fools and blind, the increasing angry commotions attracted the attention of the High Priest. From the Temple, he strode through the crowd with his priests making way and joined the already seething members of the Sanhedrin. He had a satisfied smirk in his face.
Jesus continued on with four more rebukes from their hypocrisy in tithing to finally their hypocrisy to honor the prophets forgetting that their ancestors were the ones that killed them and that even now they are doing the same by plotting to kill him.
Then with dramatic flair, Jesus points ominously at the Pharisees, the scribes and the High Priest, and declared, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” [Matthew 23:33-36]
Like the breaking of the damn, the court yard broke out with indignant voices.
The story continues on in my next post.
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