Jerusalem is the seat of power in the land of Canaan. Herod resides there. Pilate has his quarters there. The Sanhedrin gather there. The temple with her priests are there in its midst. Whoever controls Jerusalem controls Canaan. Whoever controls Canaan controls the trade routes. As with all things where there is money to be had there is power to be exercised. Power and money govern Jerusalem, her temple and her people. And power and money require more power and money to maintain themselves. There is always someone vying for more of each. Herod, Pilate, the Sanhedrin, the Herodians, the scribes, priests, zealots, the pilgrims all struggle against each other each looking for an advantage against the others, each plotting, planning, maneuvering, manipulating. Wherever there is power there is conflict and struggle. And wherever there is conflict and struggle there is fear and anxiety.
“Those days” in our text are the “end of days”, the “last days”, these days. For in many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these “last days” He has spoken to us by His Son. The Bible teaches us that the end of days, the last days, are marked by God’s revelation, God’s speaking through His Son. Those days began 2000 years ago. The last days are these days. And because Jesus is speaking about “these days” He is speaking about “our days”. Nothing could be more important for us to hear these days than the Word of God’s Son in our text this morning.
Though most are unawares, it is a sad day in the midst of a holy week. While pilgrims stream through Zion’s gates in order to celebrate the coming Passover, Jesus departs. He leaves the city and her temple and in so doing leaves her desolate. For no matter how busy her priests, no matter how full her borders, no matter how pious and fervent her rituals, without Jesus, both the time and the space are empty. Without Jesus the city is but a gathering of clanging cymbals. There is much noise but there is no dirge – the Baptist calls no more. There is no dancing – Simeon’s song is but a faint memory. There is no sad song of repentance nor festal celebrations of God’s grace and mercy. Without Jesus all is meaningless.