New Light on Jesus’ Last Week, Part I

I. The Booths of Annas

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As we read the story of Passion week, we often bump into scenes that don’t quite make sense.

Head of Jesus - SimonetDid the same crowd that cheered for Jesus’ triumphal entry call for his execution a week later?

Why did Jesus choose his last week to overturn the tables in the temple courts?

At his trial, why was Jesus accused of claiming that he would destroy and rebuild the temple?

A few pieces of historical data can shed a lot of light on this story. Understanding who was accusing Jesus and what the Jewish expectations were for the Messiah can link together events that seem unrelated. We’ll also find that Jesus fulfilled his role as Messiah in ways that we’ve never considered before.

 

The Corrupt House of Annas

Caiaphas - TissotA detail that is critical for understanding Jesus’ last week is the corruption of the Temple priesthood that existed in Jesus’ time. The Temple was the heart and soul of the faith of the people of Israel, where God’s very presence dwelled. But in the preceding century, the chief priests had become extremely corrupt.

Throughout the history of Israel, high priests were chosen by lot from among the Levites. Herod was threatened by the power of the priesthood, so he ignored biblical law and appointed the high priest himself. The position was subsequently bought with bribes from wealthy…

New Light on Jesus’ Last Week, Part II

Part II: Who Rejected Jesus?

[Start at Part I]

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When Jesus entered Jerusalem and made his rightful claim to be the Messianic King, he set into motion the events that he knew would lead to his death.

He was wildly popular with the people, which caused the religious leaders to fear that all the people would follow him (John 11:48). They were obligated to squash all rebellion and keep the peace so that the Romans would allow them to keep their positions of power.

Moreover, by challenging the corrupt Temple “racket” of the house of Annas, Jesus was bringing the wrath of the powerful priestly syndicate down on his head.

The religious leaders couldn’t touch him when he was surrounded by large crowds of followers, but they wanted to end his life. They needed someone who knew how to find him at night when he was in his secluded camp outside the city, away from the crowds.

Choosing the night of Passover was a perfect scheme, because every religious Jew would be celebrating the Passover meal that started at sundown. The feast usually continued late into the night, and most people would immediately go to bed after having a large meal with several cups of wine.

The streets would be deserted of the throngs that had come for the feast, and it would be easy for Judas…