Uplifting commentary on the Gospels, Acts, early Apostolic history, and a life of discipleship.
As the hour of the Passover sacrifice drew near, a growing stream of pilgrims filled the road leading to the city gates. Passing near Golgotha, they saw a knot of people standing around the three crosses on the rock. Naturally, they inquired about the victims.
Up until His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Yeshua of Nazareth tried to keep His messianic identity quiet. He warned His followers and disciples not to tell anyone who He was. He hushed up the eerie voices of the possessed, which tried to declare His identity. When Simon Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah,” He told him not to reveal it to anyone. By sending for a donkey, however, He indicated a shift in public policy.
On the seventh day of the festival they encircled the altar seven times, chanting out a litany of “hoshanas,” preparing for the final water libation. The worshipers shook their palm branches to create a rushing sound like wind and rain. They thrashed them against the sides of the altar.
The Master waited until after His brothers and the pilgrims traveling with them had set out. He acted as if He did not plan on attending the festival at all. When at last the way was clear, He and His disciples made a private pilgrimage.
They had no doubt; they had seen the Master, walked with Him, and even eaten with Him. They said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). He had reignited their hopes.
Yeshua’s prayers in Gethsemane were consistent with the model of prayer He taught His disciples. He told them to pray persistently, with simple faith, appealing to God’s goodness, and pleading with Him not to lead them into trial. The biblical heroes did not hesitate to ask God to change His mind.
The Master felt the malevolent power of evil bearing down on Him. “And behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him” (Genesis 15:12). “The cords of death encompassed [Him] and the terrors of Sheol came upon [Him; He] found distress and sorrow” (Psalm 116:3). In that hour, He did not want to be utterly alone.
One cannot overlook the convergence of symbolism when the Mashiach (Anointed One) prays in the midst of an olive grove, in a place called the “Olive Press,” on the slopes of the hill of messianic expectation called the “Mount of Anointing.” The grove was called Gat Shamnei, which means “Olive Press.”
Peter posed a question that each disciple must ask of himself as he comes face to face with the Master and His super-rational claims. The disciple must take Yeshua at His word or turn away and leave with the others who abandoned Him. If we choose to leave, we must each answer the question, “To whom then shall we go?”
Yeshua claimed to be the bread from heaven, the heavenly manna, who had descended from heaven. This claim offended the sensibilities of the Galileans, some of whom personally knew his family. They knew He had been born of Miriam and raised in Nazareth. Why did He claim to have descended from heaven?