Missing Jesus

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), October 23

images“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Lk. 19:42).

What do a few shepherds, three wise men, two old people (Anna and Simeon) a number of fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes, and demon-possessed people have in common? They recognize Jesus Christ as the Son of God, while the custodians of the promises of redemption and the pictures of redemption (the Pharisees) miss the fulfillment of both. The Pharisees do not “know the time of [their] visitation” (19:44). Even the disciples do not fully understand all that is happening as the final week of Christ looms large: “When Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him” (Jn. 12:16).

How could so many have missed Jesus? They did not realize that these things had been written about him. What things? His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection. Where? Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures.

Israel, and especially Jerusalem, was filled with Pharisees and synagogues. Instead of focusing on the Scriptures, however, they substituted human tradition. They studied the writings of the rabbis and quoted the rabbis until the Scriptures became secondary to rabbinical teaching and rule keeping. The religious crowd missed Jesus because they didn’t need Him! They had their systems of belief.

Two scenes capture Israel’s custodial failure:

  • Jesus uses the fig tree to illustrate Israel’s failure to recognize and believe in him. The lush leaves advertise possibility, but closer inspection reveals that the tree, like Israel, is fruitless. The nation and people of Israel were custodians of the Scriptures containing the promises of redemption and pictures of redemption. Sadly, the custodians have failed to recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of those very promises. The stewardship of His Story will be given to others: “Let no one ever eat fruit from you ever again” (Mk. 11:14).
  • Jesus enters the temple and drives out those who are buying and selling. The temple has become a place of commerce, “a den of thieves,” instead of a place of prayer (Mk. 11:17). His rebuke references the Word—“It is written” (Mt. 21:13). The Pharisees should know better.

This is a turning point for the Pharisees. He will have to die. Him. The One who has come to save them from their religion, their slick marketing, and their sins.

These two scenes reveal several truths about missing Jesus:

  • Sometimes those with the most access to the truth miss the Truth Himself.

  • Adherence to a system of beliefs or to certain teachers sometimes replaces relationship Christ. Like that of the Pharisees, the system may become so developed that Christ isn’t the center or even necessary.

  • When merchandizing the Gospel message replaces Gospel preaching, people leave places of worship with trinkets around their necks and wrists, while their hearts remain untouched and their sins unforgiven.

  • The church is the custodian of the Gospel message; therefore she must guard against both the commercialization of the Gospel and the condensing of the Gospel message to a system of beliefs to which to adhere or rules to follow.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Mk. 11:1-11; 14:3-9; Mt. 21:1-11; 26:6-13; Jn. 12:1-26; Lk. 19:28-44):
What rationale does Simeon and his friends use to criticize Jesus? How does Jesus give the women “a place at the table”?
As Jesus nears the final week before His death, He quotes Scripture to interpret the events that occur. According to John 12:16, even those closest to Him misinterpret the events. What does this reveal about Bible literacy and spiritual awareness?
What does Jesus teach about those in Jerusalem, His death and eternal life?