It was just another story. Of this Peter was forcing himself to be sure. Just like all the others ones he’d heard Jesus tell over the three years they had been together. Another “story” about the kingdom of God that was difficult to comprehend. It couldn’t possibly mean what it seemed to at first glance. Surely Jesus wasn’t ACTUALLY saying that this would be the end. His emotions were still running high from the whole table incident yesterday, and things would settle down soon.
James and John were talking in hushed tones again. Did you hear Him say that the temple wouldn’t be standing? Why would He say such a thing? And in public where others could hear? Didn’t He realize if the wrong person heard, that was the kind of thing that could get a person thrown in jail – or worse?
“Someone has to say something to Him” Judas said to no one in particular but loud enough that everyone could hear. “He’s going to get us killed. It’s not enough that Rome doesn’t like us Jews to begin with, but if He keeps talking about the temple and Jerusalem – the Pharisees won’t be too far behind them.”
It wasn’t as though what Jesus had said was THAT controversial – it’s just that everything felt different for some reason. Heightened and on alert. “What was it that He said EXACTLY again?” John asked, “If I’m going to say something I at least want to get it right…”
Matthew recalled the entire situation;
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
~ Matthew 23:37 – 24:2 (ESV)
“Yeah, it doesn’t sound great. For us, for them, for anyone…” John accepted. “I’m sure it was a story. An example. A metaphor for how God is going to tear down the wickedness, deceit and false teachings of our leaders; and replace them with something and someone better. I’m sure He was just talking about what’s going to happen when He really becomes our king.”
Peter wasn’t so sure. He’d been trying to convince himself ever since it happened that this was just another classic “Jesus being Jesus” moment – but this one had felt different. The tears in His eyes. The brokenness of His voice. Everything surrounding Him was more tense these days – even when He was telling stories. Peter couldn’t shake the feeling that this time, the ending wasn’t going to be one he would be very fond of.
Late into the night, Jesus sits alone by the fire, knowing full well the conversations His followers are having nearby. He has never felt more lonely – even though He’s surrounded by people. They’ll never understand. Not until it’s too late. Not until it’s over. This time the story is different. Most stories are for telling – but this one is for living.