Temple Tantrums- 4th Week of Lent- Saturday-John 7:40-53
So here is the Pharisaic logic; if the Pharisees or the authorities do not believe in Jesus then the believing crowds who do, are accursed. This sounds more like sour grapes, or perhaps bitter ones. So intense is the bitterness, that anyone who remotely defended Jesus incurred the wrath of the Pharisees.
It was now confrontation time and no longer were the Pharisees willing to sit around like ‘sheep with a secret sorrow’, they had turned into ‘bulls in a china shop’ tearing down any one who remotely supported Jesus. Nothing would stop their anger and if there was no stone in sight to stone Him they might have even torn down the temple themselves, to gather stones.
So am I exaggerating? Absolutely not! In the gospel of John, the plot to kill Jesus thickens. Today’s gospel highlights one of those many incidents. We are in the temple; that would give you location. It is the seventh day, the last day of the festival of tabernacles; that would give you occasion. The temple was obviously full and Jesus picks the moment.
‘The last day of the feast of Tabernacles was the day when the priests took water from the spring of Siloam and circled the altar seven times. The crowd carried branches of myrtle and willow twigs tied with palm in the right hand and a citron or lemon in the left as signs of harvest’ (JBC).
When Jesus announced that He was the living water and that the believer should drink from Him, it caused a stir. We are told that many began to see Him as a ‘prophet’ or ‘Messiah’ though some doubted His origins, and hence disqualified Him from being the anointed Davidic Messiah. It is amazing that even the temple guards do not arrest Him. ‘For no one has spoken like this.”
But this was the ‘last nail in the coffin’ or should I say the nail in His palm. The Pharisees realized that Jesus was far more popular than the ‘rabble-rouser’ they thought Him to be. The people had now begun to see Him as the promised Messiah, if not a prophet; and this had to be stopped, even if it meant a cross!
Hate can be an awful thing. Most penitents seem to overlook hate and anger; but it is deadly. The hate of the Pharisees which pushed them over the edge to put Jesus to death was also manifested in their attack on one of their own. When Nicodemus, suggested a trial, let alone a fair trial; they condemned him as a disdainful Galilean, like the rabble who followed Jesus.
Today is a good day to look into your heart. Is the heart of flesh, given to us by God, turning into a heart of stone? What’s my ‘temple tantrum’? We are often embarrassed by the ‘sins of the flesh’. What about muscle?
Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit- References from the Jerome Biblical Commentary.
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