Ye Have Made It a Den of Thieves

Courtezy LDS Media Library

Here’s we think happened on Monday of Holy Week or the last week of Jesus’ mortal life . . .

As Jesus returned from Bethany to the city Jerusalem with His disciples the following  morning, He saw a fig tree from a distance. He walked up to the tree to see if it had any fruit, though it was far too early in the season for ripe figs. When He found the tree barren, He said, in the hearing of His disciples, “Let no man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” (Matt. 21:18–19; Mark 12:12–14.)

When Jesus went into the temple of God, He began to cast out all those who bought and sold within the temple’s sacred precincts, overthrowing their tables and chairs, not allowing anyone to carry any vessel through the temple. He said to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?’ But ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46.)

When the religious authorities saw Him do these amazing things, and witnessed the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were very displeased, and said to Jesus, “Hearest thou what these say?” But Jesus answered them, “Yea; have ye never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?’”

Jesus taught the people daily in the temple, but the those of the religious establishment were jealous and looked for ways to discredit and ultimately kill Him. They feared Him, but they couldn’t figure out what to do yet, because He was so popular in the eyes of the people. The common people flocked to Him and were amazed at the doctrine He taught and listened to Him attentively. (Matt. 21:14–16; Mark 11:18; Luke 19:47–48.)

When they passed by the fig tree later, they saw that it had dried up and withered away, just as the nation who was about to reject Him would likewise perish.

Jesus Enters Jerusalem in Triumph

Courtesy LDS Media Library

Here’s what we know happened on Sunday of Holy Week, or the last week of Jesus’ mortal life . . .

A few days before the feast of Passover, Jesus and His apostles approached Jerusalem from the east on the Mount of Olives. They were near the villages of Bethany and Bethphage when He asked two of His disciples to go into a nearby village where, He said, “ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her, whereon yet never man sat: loose them, and bring them unto me.” He went on: “And if any man ask you, ‘Why do ye loose him?’ thus shall ye say unto him, ‘Because the Lord hath need of him.’ And straightway he will send them.”

The two disciples went into the village and did as Jesus asked. There they found an ass and her colt tied near a place where two roads met. As they untied the colt, the owners said, “What do ye, loosing the colt?”
 The disciples then said—with smiles, I think—“The Lord hath need of him.” When the owners heard that, they let them go, as if they recognized the origin of the request instantly. The disciples brought the ass and her colt to Jesus. They laid their garments on the unbroken colt and helped Jesus up onto his back
.

This was significant as riding on a donkey in this way was a sign of royalty. It was all done in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah who wrote, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” The disciples didn’t understand the significance of this at the time, but after Jesus was resurrected and glorified, they remembered that these things had been written about Him.

As Jesus descended the west side of the Mount of Olives, nearing the Holy City, a huge crowd came out to meet Him. They laid their garments in the roadway and others cut down branches from off the trees and also laid them down in the way.
 Those who had witnessed the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, spread this news of Him. For this reason, the people of Jerusalem came out to meet Him, because they had heard that he had done a Messianic miracle.

The multitude started to praise God with loud voices because of the great things they had witness Jesus do, crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.
 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and hosanna in the highest!”

The Pharisees didn’t like hearing Jesus receive such praise which indicated that He was the Messiah. They said, “Master, rebuke thy disciples.”
 But Jesus answered, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”
 The Pharisees weren’t happy with this response and said among themselves, “Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.”
 Trouble was definitely brewing.

When he came near Jerusalem, He started to cry. He said, looking at the city, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.
 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee. And they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”

When He came into city, many were moved and said among themselves, “Who is this?” Some answered, “This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.” He went into the temple and had a look around. As the evening grew on, He went back to Bethany with the Twelve and spent the night there. (See Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:10–11, 17; Mark 11:11; Luke 19:41–44
.)

Rabboni

The Sun rose, brilliantly
and unforgettably wise.

She yearned to
mislay indelible
desolations,

While iron hands
clutched scents of
impossible reverence,

The reliquary’s shining
witnesses requited
by tear-drained eyes.

How she turned from them!

“Where is He?” she
demanded of a lowly
Gardener,

barely a shred of
her former self
in evidence.

“Mary,” He said, the
only word the moment
could demand,

The first word on
the first day of a
recalculated infinity.

Michael James Fitzgerald

See John 20:11–18.

Hear My Dream

The inevitable Man will
burn conscience to ash
if Pilatos hears me not.

I witnessed His suffering,
a visceral dream so low
waking seems only dreaming.

Hear me, infinite
aspiration! Destiny
is not among your gods.

Jupiter this day has
fallen from the
grace of veneration,

And so shall you
if you hear me not—
if you dare with cold fingers
to touch the Soul of the universe.

Michael James Fitzgerald

See Matthew 27:19.

The Last Supper and Gethsemane

I have always been a believer, since as early as I can remember. Thanks to my parents, I was nurtured warmly in the traditions of Christianity as a child, and I took them to heart from the beginning. Even in my sassy pants teenage years, an ember of faith in Jesus Christ glowed in a hidden hearth.

This week, Easter week, is my favorite of the year. I get to relieve the events of each day, on the day (as best we can tell) they happened. Today marks Jesus’s final Passover in an upper room in Jerusalem, the sacred day that He himself instituted in the days of Moses, a day that honors His own eternal sacrifice. Every Sunday we renew our relationship with the Savior by taking of the emblems given to His disciples this night. The Last Supper was also, in a sense, the First Supper.

After they sang a hymn, most likely the Hallel or praise psalms, Psalms 113 through 118. Then Jesus and the elevent walked beyond the walls of Jerusalem to Gethsemane, a nearby olive grove, to prayer, to be alone, to suffer an agon, Greek for contest or struggle. What a monumental and decisive struggle that was, a struggle to pay a debt He did not owe, for those who did not understand or appreciate the cost or toll it required.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple, for the Last Time

The following text is taken from Behold the Man: A Biblical Narrative of the Last Days of Jesus Christ which combines the gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days in a single narrative.


And they come to Jerusalem. And Jesus went into the temple of God and began to cast out all them that sold therein, and them that bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

And he taught saying unto them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?’ But ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Matt. 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46

Palm Sunday — Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

The following text is taken from Behold the Man: A Biblical Narrative of the Last Days of Jesus Christ which combines the gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days in a single narrative.


AND IT CAME TO PASS, when they came nigh to Jerusalem, and were come unto Bethphage and Bethany, unto the mount called the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, “Go your way into the village over against you, and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her, whereon yet never man sat: loose them, and bring them unto me.

“And if any man ask you, ‘Why do ye loose him?’ thus shall ye say unto him, ‘Because the Lord hath need of him.’ And straightway he will send them.”

And the disciples went their way, and did as Jesus commanded them, and found even as he had said unto them—the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met. And they loose him.

And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof that stood there said unto them, “What do ye, loosing the colt?”

And they said unto them, “The Lord hath need of him,” even as Jesus had commanded. And they let them go.

And they brought the ass, and the colt, to Jesus, and they cast upon the colt their garments, and they set Jesus thereon.

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, behold, thy King cometh unto thee, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”

These things understood not his disciples at the first, but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from off the trees, and strawed them in the way.

The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. And the multitudes that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying,

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.

“Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and hosanna in the highest!”

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, “Master, rebuke thy disciples.”

And he answered and said unto them, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.”

Matt. 21; Mark 11; Luke 19

The Hammer and the Nails

Courtesy LDS Media Library

Many years ago, I taught a lesson in a priesthood meeting. I don’t remember much about the lesson other than the topic. It was about Christ and, at least in part, about His crucifixion.

I brought a heavy hammer and a block of wood that Sunday. I had also purchased the largest nails I could find at a local hardware store, nails that looked nothing like the photo to the left, but which would serve their purpose.

Our little group sat on the stage in our Church building, behind a thick, velvet-like curtain. I think I left the hammer and nails on the small, laminate table during the lesson.

Near the end of the hour, I knelt on the floor and hammered a large nail into the block of wood with the heavy hammer. It was part of an object lesson. I hit the nail, slowly and deliberately, over and over, until it sunk deep into the wood. I don’t rightly remember what my point was.

The little group fell silent, as did I. All ears, all hearts, were focused on the ringing of the hammer and nail.

This might have been 25 or 30 years ago. I can still hear the ring of metal striking metal. It made me tremble — not the sound itself, but what the sound meant. What the sound cost. What I cost. 

None Were with Him—An Apostle’s Easter Thoughts on Christ

“I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation.

“I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

“Thus, of divine necessity, the supporting circle around Jesus gets smaller and smaller and smaller . . . essentially His lonely journey back to His Father continued without comfort or companionship.

“It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us. . . .

“[Then] finally and mercifully, it was “finished.” Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness, and despair.

“One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. . . . As we approach this holy week—Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb—may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith . . . may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,”21 for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were With Him,” April 3, 2009).

An Easter Gift for You

I want to let you know that in honor of this Easter season—Easter is March 27—I am offering my book Behold the Man: A Biblical Narrative of the Last Days of Jesus Christ free for anyone on Kindle from March 1 through March 5, 2016. You don’t need Prime or Kindle Unlimited. It’s free to anyone.

I started writing during Easter of 1986 as I began putting together events surrounding the last week of Jesus’s mortal life. The Passion of Christ is the greatest tragedy and triumph in history. I have never found anything to compare with it in meaning.

That spring, I started to put together the puzzle of the accounts of the Passion as told in the gospel accounts of the New Testament. My goal was to: (1) identify the unique details from each of the gospel accounts relating to the Passion; (2) to unify all this material; and (3) to present it in an easy-to-read, narrative format.

The source for this book is the King James Version of the New Testament. While my book is scripture based, I’ve updated some punctuation and paragraphing, altered and modernized some capitalization and pronouns, and added single and double quotation marks in places. To help the flow of the narrative, I have also added conjunctive or transitional words, without setting them off with brackets, and occasionally deleted some words.

This book took me a 23-year period to complete. I hope it will help you draw closer to our Savior during this my favorite season of the year.

P.S. If you missed this deal, contact me here and I’ll fix you up.