Eye of the Storm

“Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” (Mark 11:11)

Hi Fighter,

We are about to begin ‘Holy Week’ – the week leading up to Easter – where we remember both the death and the resurrection of Jesus. We kick off Holy Week with ‘Palm Sunday’ – so called because it celebrates the Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem in what became a parade. People threw their cloaks on the ground ahead of Jesus, marched with him, sung, and waved palm branches.

Things degenerated very quickly from there. The public ministry of Jesus had spanned about three years, but it all came crashing down in less than a week. Jesus entered Jerusalem on the Sunday with people shouting, “blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9), but by Friday of the same week they were shouting “crucify him!” (Mark 15:13), and no doubt many of those screaming for His death would have been the same people singing His praises a few days earlier!

I used to think it impossible that people could be so fickle, yet I’ve seen it myself. One of the most gratifying occasions of my life was the anniversary of my 25 years of ministry in Dulwich Hill. People sang and celebrated, and they hung a massive banner from the church steeple with my photo on it! Many of those who so lauded me then would have later hanged me from the church steeple had they been able to. Admittedly, in my case, that transition took almost five years. In Jesus case, it took less than five days!

I believe there was a tipping point for Jesus – a point that marked the transition from Jesus being radically popular to being radically hated – and I think that tipping point is captured in Mark 11:11.

“Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” 

This happens straight after Jesus’ great victory parade. Jesus enters the city as God’s anointed king, and then He goes straight to God’s anointed place – the temple. What is He going to do there? Will Jesus take over the temple? Is He going to gather a huge crowd there and form and army? Is He at least going to address the crowd who have followed Him there and tell them what He expects of them?

We are told that Jesus ‘looked around at everything’. In the original Greek the verb is ‘periblepsamenos’, which suggests that Jesus did a 360 – turning around like a periscope and slowly gathering in everything that was going on around Him. He looks around and takes it all in, and then … He goes home.

It’s a bit of an anticlimax, and no doubt would have disappointed many of those who had followed Him from the city gate to the temple. We can’t enter the mind of Jesus, but I get the feeling that this was a key moment of decision. Forces had coalesced against Him, but the people were behind Him. Was Jesus going to fight or flee, or would He just freeze?

I used to keep on my work desk a copy of Mort Künstler’s depiction of Generals Lee and Longstreet surveying the Union Lines at Gettysburg. For those who know neither Künstler nor the period he depicted, the work remembers that moment on July 3rd, 1863, when Lee made the decision to launch a frontal assault against the centre of the Union line. That fateful decision was probably the tipping point in the American Civil War. Up to that point Lee’s army had seemed invincible. From that point forwards, things degenerated quickly for the South.

I see Jesus in the temple as being at a similar tipping point. Jesus is in the eye of the storm – that space of momentary calm before His terrible transition from ministry to misery begins. What does Jesus see when He ‘looks around at everything’? What options did He consider? What made Him decide to simply pack up and go home?

I sense we may be at a tipping point in our word today. When we look around at everything, what do we see? Do we see the power plays going on around us? Do we see the forces of evil mounting? Are we aware of the spiritual war that is being waged and, if so, what options do we have? What is Jesus calling us to do?

These are difficult questions. Even so, it’s Holy Week, so this is surely the time to face them. Yes, this Sunday marks the transition from ministry to misery in the life of Jesus, yet Friday is not the end of our story. The cross is indeed the climax of our Gospel narrative. Even so, there is a rather exciting postscript. 😉

Our Sunday Eucharist

We had another wonderful Sunday Eucharist last weekend with Karyn Hemming and Andrew Logan joining me on the panel, and Father Ola from Sweden taking on the notoriously difficult passage from Hebrews 5 via pre-recorded video. Karyn was also able to tell us about the new movie on Julian Assange that she had just seen. It’s all in the video below.

This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, and I’m back amidst the greenery of Binacrombi. I’ll be joined again on the panel by Andrew, and by our good friend from the East Coast of the USA, Doug.

Father John Ashfield (former colleague of the late, Father Elias) has promised us another pre-recorded homily from wherever he is in Europe at the moment. It should be quite an experience. Join us from midday if you can at TheSundayEucharist.com, or on Facebook , YouTubeTwitterLinkedInor Streamyard.

I look forward to sharing this Eucharist with you. 😊

Let me work your corner

If you’d like to see my work continue, please click here to make a one-off donation, If you can afford a monthly contribution, sign up at Patreon.comand choose either:

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What’s On?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve put a lot of work into developing the Fighting Fathers web network. The goal is to better equip our Fighting Fathers community with the tools to make an impact online.

Last week I rolled out SurefireWealth.com memberships for those who give support through Patreon subscriptions, and I posted a free eBook on ‘how to resell software’ on www.softwareresales.com. This week I’ve launched another new site. It’s an exciting one. It’s the Fighting Fathers AI Vault, now installed to www.fatherdave.info


About Father Dave Smith

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four

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