A Date With Destiny

The time had arrived. The event for which He was born was about to occur. His hour had come (Jn, 12:23; 13:1). The donkey was secured — He mounted it — He reached the crest of the Mount of Olives — and, there, before Him in all its glorious splendor, lay Jerusalem. Although the cries of the multitude shouting “Hosanna” echoed all around Him, the Teacher from Nazareth wept openly, for He knew what lay ahead for Him and for the city.

Thus began a “Date with Destiny” – a week that had been predicted by past prophets (Dan. 9:25-26) — a week that would alter the course of future history. Jesus returned to Bethany that evening knowing that the religious leaders of Jerusalem would not be joining the multitude who had cried, “. . . Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 21:9). However, He had “. . . steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:51), and He would not be deterred from His appointed task (Lk. 18:31-34).

The following day, He returned to the city and entered the Temple, the focal point of Jewish religious fervor. However, the one place where righteousness should be prevalent, He found to be a “den of thieves”, filled with graft and corruption. Those who had observed the gentle Saviour in His meek and lowly manner were amazed as His zeal for His Father’s house resulted in a thorough purging of the offenders.

On the morrow He returned to the Temple, and this time He “locked horns” with the religious leaders— the Herodians, Pharisees and Sadducees. His wisdom exceeded their ability to answer. They were left with no other option — He must be the Messiah, but, alas, human tradition was strong. Before returning to Bethany, Jesus told His disciples on the Mount of Olives that the Temple would be destroyed, and beyond that, a time unparalleled in all history (the Great Tribulation) would occur in the last days before His second coming.

The following day, Jesus rested at Bethany where He was anointed with precious ointment for His burial by Mary, sister of Lazarus. His enemies, however, were not resting. They received a visitor, Judas by name, who made them an offer they could not refuse. For a price, he would lead them to Jesus by night — a daytime apprehension would be too risky in view of His many followers.

The following day, His disciples went ahead to Jerusalem to prepare the Passover meal. Jesus joined them and gave a new meaning to the traditional elements of the matzo and cup of wine. He said that from then on, these elements would symbolize His body (to be broken) and His blood (to be shed) as the New Covenant would be instituted. Then they departed to a favorite spot on the Mount of Olives, a secluded garden, there to pray. But Judas and the Temple guard interrupted this vigil — the plot was successful — and Jesus was led back within the walls of Jerusalem for the last time.

It was the middle of the night when He was arraigned before the highest leaders of the Jewish world — Annas, Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. They brought charges which they could not establish. Jesus remained silent. When He clearly claimed that He was the prophetic “Son of Man”, they condemned Him to die. But only the Romans could implement the death sentence, and off to Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, He was rushed. Although he sought to relieve himself of the responsibility of condemning an innocent man, Pilate gave into the pressure and issued the order. Jesus was mocked, beaten and made to bear His own cross to the Place of the Skull. What words can describe the agony — both mental and physical — that He suffered as He reconciled guilty man to a holy God. The deed was done. The people dispersed. Tender, loving hands wrapped and placed the body in a borrowed tomb. Was the story ended?

The religious leaders were still not satisfied. Even though He was dead and His disciples had vanished, they desired that a seat be placed on the tomb and a Roman guard be stationed there, Pilate granted it.

The disciples, huddled together in some unknown, secluded location, were absolutely astounded when the women arrived. They told of an empty tomb, Could it be? Yes, He had promised to rise again the third day!! It was not until they were gathered together that evening that they were finally convinced. The story had not ended — it had only just begun!

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