Jerusalem2-300x222About two thousand years ago, the streets of Jerusalem were crowded with tens of thousands of pilgrims who had come up for the Passover.  The city swelled to three times it’s normal population of about fifty thousand as  pilgrims continued to stream into the city.  Every inn and private home was bursting with visitors.  Vast tent cities stretched across any available open ground.
From the direction of Bethlehem huge flocks of lambs were being driven within the ancient city walls.  Having been pastured outside of the town of Jesus birth, these lambs were0128758150085 destined for sacrifice.  Markets were chaotic.  Business was good for all the temple concessions.  The lambs were inspected for any defects before purchase, while bitter herbs and other Passover foods were procured. Roman coins bearing human images or even the specially minted Judean coinage designed without images were exchanged for the Jewish half shekel, the only coinage lawful for paying one’s temple tax.  Late arrivals were bustling about the small villages outside the city looking for any available housing.  Jerusalem was a beehive of holiday activity.
betania-lazar-10Jesus preferred to stay just outside Jerusalem in a town called Bethany.  This Jerusalem suburb lay along the main pilgrim route from the east.  A well known resident named Lazarus had recently been raised from the dead lending an aura of excitement on top of the usual holiday emotions.  But this miracle had also resulted in a special session of the Sanhedren at which weeks before any trial, a death sentence had been passed.  Arrest warrants were posted.  A bounty was placed on the Teacher from Galilee. Would Jesus come to the Temple?  Would He defy the will of the Pharisees to keep the Law of Moses?
The path to the cross was followed by any number of pilgrims JerichoNewtestamentcoming to Jerusalem from the north and east.  Once over the Jordan River this route would  present a final rest stop in Jericho before an arduous ascent through the Judean Wilderness to Jerusalem.  It was here that Jesus ministered to the blind Bartimeaus upon entering the oasis, and later to Zaccaeus as He departed.  One was blind to the world, the other blind to the things of God.  The beggar lay in the dust, with no hope of a better life.  The tax collector was Reconstruction_model_of_Ancient_Jerusalem_in_Museum_of_David_Castleup in a tree, with no lack of material wealth.  Jesus treated them both as equals, ministering to one physical healing and to the other spiritual healing.  His last miracles outside of that final Passover were to demonstrate a love that transcends wealth, poverty, infirmity and sin.  After this, the party of disciples followed their Lord up to their prophetic destiny.
Jesus began the week by rising early in Bethany and praying.  Was He praying for the fulfillment of prophetic events?  Perhaps He was praying for guidance or strength.  Perhaps He was praying for you, for us!  His mission was about to come to it’s climax.  His death and resurrection would be the centerpiece of a new, living faith.  Could He have been praying for both Jew and Gentile to come to that place of acceptance and surrender?
Jesus never needed to come to earth for Himself.  He needed no crowds to proclaim Him.  He never needed to die or rise for Himself.  He did it for us.  He went into this week thinking about us.  He had our futures on His mind and in His prayers.  He was about to pay a heavy price for our freedom.  He would suffer indignities, lies, torture By-the-Numbersand death because, when He thought of us, His thoughts were of love.
We must realize that Jesus singular focus on us was more than enough to counter the fear of pain and death.  In His death He saw our victory over sin and failure.  He prayed for our ability to increase in the knowledge of God by a new relationship of faith.  He was for us even when we were not aware.  He loved us though we were not available.  He prayed for us, when we knew nothing of goodness and holiness.  His success at the cross, was for our success in the earth.
Jesus looked at the city of Jerusalem and wept for lost opportunities.  Let’s not give Him anything else to mourn.