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In response to the events of October 7th in Israel, we’ve reimagined our travel experiences for students. Our new focus emphasizes faith formation, education, humanitarian efforts in Israel, and advocacy for our Jewish friends.
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After the attacks of October 7th in Israel, we’ve revised our travel experiences for students—focusing on faith formation, education, humanitarian efforts in Israel, and advocacy for our Jewish friends.
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Lent Series: Bethany to Jerusalem

When Jesus finally arrived in Jerusalem, he had been away from Capernaum, the starting point of his journey, for quite some time. He had traveled from Capernaum to Jericho, then to Bethany, and now he had finally arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. His entrance to the city was grand and celebratory, but by the end of the week, Jesus would be ridiculed and sentenced to death. The whole time, Jesus stayed focused on doing his Father’s will.  

 

Before entering Jerusalem, Jesus told his disciples to find a donkey’s colt and bring it to him. That might sound odd, and not very suitable for a triumphant entrance. However, John 12:14-15 tell us that this happened to fulfill the words of the prophet Zechariah who proclaimed “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” By seating himself on a donkey, Jesus effectively declared to those following his journey that he was the King, the promised Messiah who would save them.  

 

Many of Jesus’ followers understood this, at least in part. They laid palm branches on the road before him, and crowds gathered to cheer, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38). Even still, some did not truly understand who he was, and when questioned about Jesus’ identity, they referred to him instead as the “prophet from Nazareth” (Matthew 21:11). Despite Jesus’ care to explain his purpose for visiting Jerusalem, some of the crowds still assumed he had come to defeat the Romans and establish an earthly kingdom.  

 

Jesus did not allow this to distract him from doing his Father’s will, even if it meant later dying in humiliating fashion instead. Following the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he quickly made his way to the temple. Throughout Jesus’ life the temple had become a familiar location—He was dedicated to God in the temple as a baby. One time Mary and Joseph lost Jesus for 3 days when he was still a child and where did they find him? The temple! Jesus frequently taught there and considered it a place to pray and be with his Father.  

But when Jesus arrived at the temple, he was filled with anger. The temple was not full of people worshipping his Father this time, but rather it was full of merchants selling their goods inside the temple courts. In that time, animals were sacrificed as part of the Passover holiday. Many people traveling long distances did not bring a sacrificial animal with them but purchased one when they arrived at the temple. Merchants were likely taking advantage of travelers in need of a sacrifice and corrupting the temple.

Matthew 21:12-13 says, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, ‘‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

 

Jesus was angry to see the temple not being used as a sacred place of worship. He was angry to see people’s hearts not fully dedicated to God. Even he, the long-anticipated Messiah with a crowd of adoring followers, knew the importance of worshiping the Father. Each day leading up to His arrest, Jesus would visit the temple again to teach and pray.  

 

As we draw closer to Holy Week, Jesus’ interactions at the Temple remind us that we should be focused on heavenly things. Let us not be like the buyers and sellers inside the temple who were distracted by earthly gains instead of spending time with God. We should allow for God to reveal the true desires of our heart and worship him with full devotion.

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