Jesus' journey to Jerusalem
Aug 26, 2014
Not only are the words and teachings of Jesus important in studying the gospels, but also it is important to consider how the writers themselves compiled those words into sequence. There were many things that Jesus said, but the gospel writers chose which words to record and what order to record them.
We have seen how Luke focused upon Jesus’ warning in view of the coming disaster in Jerusalem. Luke 13:22 then tells us that Jesus was “proceeding on His way to Jerusalem” and that He taught in the villages along the way. To avoid the disaster that was to happen in 70 A.D., the people would have to cease from the rebellious and lawless path that their leaders were urging them to follow. It was the same path that the evil figs took in the days of Jeremiah, when the people refused to submit to the sentence of God.
The Pharisees’ Warning
So we see in Luke 13:31 that immediately after Jesus had given warning to the people, some Pharisees spoke according to the condition of their own hearts:
31 Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, “Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”
This Herod was the king of Galilee. So here we have the first indication that the political leader sought to kill Jesus. Nonetheless, the Pharisees either misunderstood Herod’s motives or their “warning” may have been an outright lie, because we read later that Herod was glad to see Jesus. After Jesus had been arrested, Pilate sent Him to Herod for judgment, because Jesus was from Galilee. Herod’s reaction in Luke 23:8 does not match the words of those Pharisees.
8 Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him.
Perhaps these Pharisees had heard that Herod wanted to see Jesus, and they assumed that he meant that he wanted to arrest Jesus. But considering Jesus’ response in the next verses, it is likely that these Pharisees had direct access to Herod and knew the truth. Herod was not the threat to Jesus. The threat came from the religious leaders, as shown by actual events later. Hence, it is more likely that this was a veiled threat from the Pharisees themselves, who were using Herod to cover themselves.
Jesus sent them back to Herod, saying, “Go and tell that fox…” This seems to indicate that these Pharisees knew Herod personally. At any rate, these Pharisees used Herod as an excuse to ask Jesus to go away.
In Luke 13:32, 33 Jesus responding to the Pharisees, saying,
32 And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”
We see that Jesus had no intention of going away. He was deliberately journeying to Jerusalem in order to be crucified. But meanwhile, He ministered to the people as usual.
Jesus also understood the time frame in which He would be in the grave, saying, “I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day.” This obviously had a double meaning. The Pharisees would have understood Him to mean that He intended to arrive at His “goal” (i.e., Jerusalem) on the third day, but Jesus actually prophesied of His time in the grave.
Yet Jesus’ statement, “it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem,” makes it clear that His journey to that city was for the purpose of dying.
Jerusalem, the City of Blood and Violence
The name Jerusalem means “City of Peace,” but because it was the place where the prophets were killed, Ezekiel renamed it, “City of Blood.” Ezekiel 22:2 says,
2 And you, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then cause her to know all her abominations.
In other words, before a man or a city can be judged, the judge must give a public record of the “abominations” that has brought about such judgment. Here God calls Jerusalem “the bloody city.” In the next verse God tells the prophet to indict Jerusalem, calling it, “a city shedding blood in her midst.” In verse 4 God says to Jerusalem, “You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed.”
This new name for Jerusalem is repeated in Ezekiel 24:6, 9 and again in Nahum 3:1,
1 Woe to the bloody city, completely full of lies and pillage; her prey never departs.
It was for this reason that God forsook Jerusalem as He had earlier forsaken Shiloh (Jeremiah 7:12-14). When the glory departed from Shiloh, Eli’s daughter gave birth to a son, who was named Ichabod, “the glory has departed” (1 Samuel 4:21). The Ark of God was removed from Shiloh. Even though the Philistines later returned the Ark to the Israelites, it never went back to Shiloh.
The same is true with Jerusalem, as Jeremiah tells us. Ezekiel himself saw the glory depart from the temple in Jerusalem. First it lifted from the Most Holy Place to the threshold (Ezekiel 10:4), and then, as Ezekiel 11:23 says,
23 And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.
The glory was last seen by Ezekiel on the summit of the Mount of Olives, which stood on the east side of Jerusalem. There it remained until Jesus ascended to heaven from that spot (Acts 1:9, 12). The glory returned ten days later and rested upon the heads of the 120 in the upper room on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3).
We see, then, how the glory of God first rested in a tabernacle, or tent, in Shiloh. Later, His glory moved to a house, or temple, in Jerusalem. Still later, as we read in Ephesians 2:20-22, the glory came to rest upon a new temple not made with hands…
20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
In other words, the very apostles and prophets—and the Messiah Himself—who were rejected, persecuted, and killed in the City of Blood, have become living stones in a new temple that is fit for the habitation of God’s glory.
This is the New Jerusalem, or the Heavenly Jerusalem, which is the true City of Peace. In the Hebrew language Jerusalem is literally Yerushalayim, “Two Jerusalems.” The Hebrew language uses not only plurals (word ending in -im) but also duals (-ayim). Hence, Yerushalayim prophesies of precisely TWO Jerusalems, one being earthly and the other heavenly.
Paul tells us in Galatians 4:24-26 that the earthly city is “Hagar,” representing the Old Covenant. Her “children” are those who remain in Judaism and who consider the earthly city to be their “mother.” Paul also says of her children in verse 29,
29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
We see then that the City of Blood persecuted and killed all of the prophets, for which cause the glory of God departed and moved to another temple built upon the Foundation of Christ and by better materials made of living stones (1 Peter 2:5). This temple is in the New Jerusalem, of which the prophets spoke when they prophesied of a latter-day temple and a glorified Jerusalem. One cannot apply these prophecies to the old city, which God forsook as Shiloh. Although they did not specify of WHICH Jerusalem they spoke, we know from the New Testament that the earthly city received the prophecies of destruction, while the glorious prophecies are about the heavenly city.
This is the only way to interpret the Scriptures consistently and without contradiction.
The Parable of the Vineyard
The crucifixion of the Messiah was the final act of rebellion and lawlessness in the City of Blood before its doom was pronounced by the divine court. We see this in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard in Luke 20:9-18. The caretakers of the vineyard mistreated the servants (prophets) that the Owner had sent to receive the fruits. Finally, the Owner sent His Son (Jesus). Luke 20:14, 15 says,
14 But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one another, saying, “This is the heir; let us kill him that the inheritance may be ours.” 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him….
This parable was taken from Isaiah 5 with a few alterations to fit the time. It is a prophecy that spans the entire time from the first Joshua to the last (Yeshua). Under Joshua, God planted Israel as a vineyard in the land of Canaan. They refused to bear fruit to God, killing the prophets and apostles (those sent by God). Finally, they even killed the Son Himself.
What verdict, then, should be spoken from the divine court? Luke 20:16 says,
16 “He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” And when they heard it, they said, “May it never be!”
Matthew’s account gives more details. Matthew 21:43 says,
43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.
It is clear, then, that the “others” to whom the “vineyard” was to be given is not a reference to the beast empires, but to “a nation producing the fruit of it.” The vineyard was given to beast nations temporarily, but none of them would produce the fruit that God required. Hence, when the end of the beast empires is completed, Daniel 7:22 says that the kingdom will be given to the saints of the Most High.
This is the “nation” that produces the fruit of the Kingdom. The nation of Judah, along with the earthly Jerusalem, are not that nation. Neither is any earthly nation in the political world able to produce such fruit. God is building a new nation out of “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” to inherit the Kingdom (Revelation 5:9). The inheritance will be based upon their fruit, not upon their genealogy.
Those who identify with the earthly Jerusalem, or who consider this “bondwoman” to be their mother church and the capitol of the Kingdom, are allegorical Ishmaelites, according to Galatians 4:24, 25). They are not inheritors of the Kingdom, though by repentance they may become citizens of the Kingdom.
For this reason it is important for us to understand Jesus’ warning and to know the difference between the two Jerusalems, lest we consider the City of Blood to be our mother and thereby identify ourselves as children of the flesh (Galatians 4:29). The only ones who will produce the required fruit of the Kingdom are those of whom Paul speaks in Galatians 4:26,
26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
This is the seventy-fourth part of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Luke." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones