After seeing the withered fig tree, and taking in Jesus’ response, the disciples and Jesus returned to Jerusalem. Still crowded, of course. It would be for a while.
The Pharisees and scribes had filled the Temple with everything but prayer and worship. Jesus had cleared it of its unworthy activity the day before. And He returned once again to teach those who would listen. His time was short; His words were life-changing. Important. Imperative.
But those in charge of the Temple would not remain quiet. While Jesus spoke in parables, they interrupted Him with arrogance. When they questioned His authority to teach, He answered with His own questions. Jesus told stories and asked questions. He was a brilliant teacher. Passionate. Desperate to share all He needed to say for the benefit of those who would listen. Eternity hung in the balance. Theirs, not His.
Jesus saw the widow’s offering and mentioned her to His disciples. She’s given more than anyone.
The Pharisees asked a devious question regarding their money and Caesar, wanting to keep as much as possible for themselves. He gave an answer they didn’t like, but it shut them up.
Another sect of Jews, the Sadducees, asked a question about marriage in heaven. These same folks didn’t believe in a life beyond. (Some people look for all kinds of reasons to reject Jesus.)
Then an expert in Jewish law had a question for Jesus. He asked Him which of the 613 Jewish laws was the most important. And to the expert’s question, Jesus responded, recalling two passages from the Torah, the very book they followed so closely; one from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the other from Leviticus 19:18.
Hear O Israel? The Lord our God is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.‘(Deuternomy6:5) The second is this, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘(Leviticus19:18) There is no other commandment greater than these.”MARK 12:28-34
That was Jesus’ final answer. Love God; love people. The last thing He spoke to a crowd at the Temple.
Then Jesus and his disciples left the city for the Mount of Olives, seemingly His favorite spot between Bethany and Jerusalem. Here, He predicted – prophecied – the future of Israel; it was detailed, and the future of Israel was bleak. He spoke of the very end times, preparing them. Us. All who would place our faith in Him. Love Him. Follow Him.
It was a Tuesday filled with teaching, dodging, and redirecting. Warning.
He must have laid His head down, thoroughly exhausted, having given so much of Himself that day. But Jesus was living as though His days were numbered. Because, well, He knew what lay ahead.
So, he remained in Bethany until.
We often mark calendars with all the firsts, celebrating milestones. And it’s a beautiful thing that we do so. But my firsts will never be as important as my lasts. My last words. My last actions. My last breath.
Friends, I want to truly live as though my days are numbered, because, well, they are. I want each encounter to matter, every word to lift up and encourage. Every little thing to somehow point to Jesus. For someone’s eternity hangs in the balance.
And friend, if I may be so bold, your days are numbered as well. May you live as though you believe that to be true.
Father, oh, give me a heart that sees like You do. A heart that hears like You. A heart that loves like You. May everything I say and do reflect the love of You, Jesus. A life poured out for others.
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