When Jesus was a small child, Simeon prophesied the future conflict that would await him.
— Luke 2.34-25 – Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed
“So that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Only a few people knew Simeon’s prophecy, but many people remembered the day that Jesus cleansed the Temple and what he had to say to the religious leaders.
“‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers.” (Luke 19.46)
The conflict built to a climax as Jesus traveled the 6.4 miles between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives each day.
— Luke 21.37-38 – Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called.
And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
Players in the Conflict
The people who opposed God’s agenda through Jesus were the Temple authorities, Satan, and one of his disciples.
— Luke 22.1-2 – Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near.
The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
Note: On today’s YouTube video, Rudy Ross has an excellent teaching on the festival of Unleavened Bread and Passover.
The priests were in charge of the various functions of the Temple, while the scribes were the experts in the Law.
They were convinced that Jesus was leading the people astray from the true worship of God through the use of miracles. What we see as miracles, they would have called magic.
The driving force behind all opposition to Jesus was Satan. His first assault on Jesus was immediately following his baptism.
Jesus was tempted for forty days by Satan. He attacked his allegiance to the Father, his identity as the Son of God, and God’s method for saving the world (Luke 4.1-13).
At the end of the temptations, Luke records: “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4.13).
This moment in Jerusalem was the “opportune time.”
One of the Disciples
— Luke 22.3-6 – Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve;
He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them.
They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money.
So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
Readers today can anticipate the religious leaders, Satan, and Judas as opponents to Jesus.
Let’s not forget that the disciples frequently came into conflict with Jesus’ actions and attitudes.
They tried to keep children from Jesus, tried to silence a blind beggar, and asked Jesus if they should call down fire on a Samaritan village.
Be on Guard
Jesus’ caution to “be on guard” (Luke 21.34) and “be alert” (Luke 21.36) were real both then and now. We need to be careful that we do not oppose God’s work.
— The religious leaders sincerely believed that they were protecting God’s people and the Law from Jesus.
Their pride and commitment to traditions may have figured into their actions. Unfortunately, they are known as the people who turned Jesus over to the Roman authorities.
We do well to remember the action of the religious authorities. Are we so “right” in our beliefs that we end up opposing God’s actions through Jesus?
— Judas was used by Satan to betray Jesus. Peter denied Jesus. At the Last Supper, the disciples wondered which one of them would betray Jesus.
Our words, actions, and attitudes are susceptible to betrayal and denial.
I can remember times when I should have spoken up for Jesus, but out of fear failed to witness for Jesus. Like Peter, I am ashamed of those times and have sorrow over my cowardice.
— The people in the crowd had not fully made up their minds about Jesus. Unfortunately, the same people who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem also called for his crucifixion.
We do well to make sure that we are fully committed to Jesus. He is Lord at all times, whether we understand what he is doing or not.
Rudy Ross and I have produced a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy has insights into Jewish customs that you will appreciate. The video is on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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