After the exciting events of Palm Sunday, most scholars agree that Jesus returned to a town called Bethany that night to stay with his disciples and His beloved friends*. (Mark 11:11) No doubt, being with His friends was exactly what Jesus needed and wanted. It’ s where He chose to be. He knew what was ahead for Him in Jerusalem. He already knew the difficulties and struggles the next week would bring.
In fact, on Monday, He would face down the religious leaders that were cheating the people and misusing the Temple in one of the most passionate and zealous acts of His life. (Luke 19:45-48, Mark 11:15-19) For one brief moment, the Temple would be what it was designed to be: a place of prayer and healing. The Bible says that no one crossed Jesus that day, and that no one would even walk across Temple grounds except for those that needed healing.
Why did Jesus choose to stay in Bethany with friends before setting his face fully toward the daunting week that was before Him? I believe it was because Jesus needed and wanted the community of these people. The son of God chose to draw strength and encouragement from His friends. As a man, He wanted to know they were with Him. He desired their kind words and their support. Even to Jesus, relationship and community was important and gave Him courage and purpose.
Right now, if feels like the community that we need has been stripped away from us, doesn’t it? We can’t hang out with each other. In some cases, we can’t even see our own families! I don’t know about you, but right now I could use a hug from my church family. I’d really like to stop acting like everyone I see is ready to either give me the virus or think that I’m going to give it to them! I hate avoiding people instead of engaging people. It goes against everything I know! Why is it so hard? Because we weren’t made for isolation. If we don’t learn anything else from this, we should learn that God did not make us to go it alone.
I wonder if you would promise along with me to stop taking each other for granted…to stop looking past one another and see each other…to love fully and deeply and to never miss a chance to say I love you and I need you. If Jesus decided to hang out with his besties right before He entered Jerusalem for the last time, then we definitely need each other to live out this life.
Be encouraged, church, God is teaching us to value and love each other.
PICTURED ABOVE: area near the ancient temple in Jerusalem perhaps close to where Jesus encountered the money changers.
All photos from Holy Land taken Sep. 2019
*Not all scholars agree on an exact chronology of Jesus’ last week, but the devotionals this week will cover the major events.