STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK – Temple Mount, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem
Everyone was up and shoving each other. Some of the angry priest were calling out for the guards. People were saying he is the Messiah. Others were calling to have him stoned for blasphemy. It was this time of the chaos that Jesus was whisked away by his disciples. They went down the Eastern stairs to the winding ramps. then crossed the Kidron bridge. When they were climbing a trail to the top of the Mount of Olives, Cestus came up to Cornelius from the rear.
“Sir, no one is following us,” Cestus reported. “Sir? What happened back there? If I didn’t know any better, I think he purposely goaded those people back there.”
“Yes, he did.”
“Sir, that is a little odd. You would think if he is to become a leader of these people, he would not alienate the ruling class. Did I get it right, sir?”
“If he was just any ordinary person.”
“Yes, sir. I see.”
When they reached the top of the Mount of Olives, one of the disciples gestured towards the city. From their vantage point, they can see above Eastern ramparts of the Temple Mount into the Court of Nations and the Temple Complex in the center. The Temple itself rose high up with its massive doors overlaid with gold flanked by two tall bronze pillars were very visible from where they stood. A thick column of smoke rose from within the Temple complex. That would be from the daily burnt offerings on the equally massive bronze altar in the Court of the Priests. On the opposite side of the court from the altar would be the giant metal basin sitting on twelve bronze bull statuettes called the Sea.
“Master, see how magnificent the Temple and the other buildings are.”
When they looked at Jesus to see his reaction, he was weeping.
He cried out, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’” [Matthew 23:37-39 NASB]
“If only you had known on this day what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:42-44 NASB]
As Cornelius listened to his last statement, he pictured three Roman Legions surrounding the entire city. High embarkments would be dug around the perimeter. Water and food resources would be cut off to cause starvation and thirst and bring the city into submission. He now knew that somewhere in the near future, the Jews and Rome will come to a head. And Rome will prevail. For Jesus said that ‘they will not leave in you one stone upon another’. Roman soldiers will tear down the Temple structure probably to get at all the gold used on the whole building.
Philipp asked, “Master, tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
“Come with me among the trees and we will talk.”
Cornelius would have joined them in the shade but a whistle from down the hill stopped him. It was a signal from Cestus who was watching if they were followed. Cornelius spotted Cestus about a hundred feet down the hill gesturing at a lone man jogging up the same winding trail they were on. Ten minutes had past, when Cestus was leading Lyca who was panting for breath.
“Lyca, how did you find us?” asked Cornelius.
“Sir, I knew you were going to be in the Temple. So, I entered through the Western gate and saw the Nazarene talking. I was working my way through the crowd when everybody erupted and started jostling me about. I caught sight of you going into the columns but then lost you in the chaos. It was by luck that I spotted your group crossing the bridge and going up here.
Sir, we got word from Nacob up in Ephraim. He found Barabbas in a tavern boasting about being soon to be very rich and being hailed as a patriot. He even went as far as to describe how he and his men will hit a Roman Revenue wagon disguised as a merchant wagon.”
“Sir, your lure worked!” Cestus said satisfactorally.
“Yes… very well. We left the horses at Bethany. We’ll go there first. Cestus, you ride to Flavius at the city’s West gate and get him and his men moving. He already knows the plan. Lyca, you stay with me. We’re riding to Emmaus and commandeer a wagon.”
Cornelius saw that Jesus had finished talking to the disciples. He asked if he could talk to him.
“Lord, I have to leave for awhile. I will try to catch up to you for the Passover meal.”
“Go, Cornelius. Do your duty. Whatever comes, always fall back on your faith.”
Cornelius told Jacob and Trax to go ahead and stay with the group. Then he said his farewells and together with Lyca and Cestus jogged back to Bethany. Half an hour later, Cestus was riding to the city while he and Lyca was riding hard to Emmaus. By the middle of the night, Cornelius and Lyca were on the road with two empty wagons.
The story continues on in my next post.
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