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“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
Over and over again the Lord warned His disciples that He was going to be put to death and rise again. They did not want to believe this and seemed to shut their minds to it. Nowadays we would say that they were in denial. But the eternal plan of Almighty God was taking its course. Events were leading up to these central events in the life of the Saviour.
As we have seen the Jewish religious hierarchy must have been incensed when they heard about crowds waving palm branches and ascribing the title ‘SON OF DAVID’ to this Person who was threatening them. But worse was to follow as Matthew 21:12-13 makes clear:
“Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a den of thieves."
The temple was THEIR domain. This was where the religious leaders wielded influence. This was where they demonstrated their power by maintaining the system of sacrifices handed down for centuries. Sadly it was no more than an empty ritual but, nevertheless, they would have felt that the temple was their kingdom. And now this Man that they hated so much and that they wanted to get rid of had done the unthinkable. He had exposed the hypocrisy and sham, the crooked dealings and the superficiality of all that was taking place. His language was damning in the extreme. He had just described the place as “A DEN OF THIEVES”.
As far as the narrative leading up to the Lord’s death is concerned, this was the last straw. There can be no more waiting to see how things turn out, no more procrastination. He must be stopped NOW, AT THIS POINT. They had often wondered how things would come to a head. They had tried unsuccessfully to catch Him out in His speech. All earlier attempts had failed but now there was no way back. They were going to stop Him somehow. They would have to fabricate some evidence to have Him executed. The only problem remaining was how they could arrest Him away from the crowd that had been fêting Him as He rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. What could be done? The Feast of the Passover was almost due and they wanted to avoid any unseemly riots.
There didn’t seem to be an answer to their dilemma, but then, to their delight, Judas walked in.