Day 39 (4/2)
Day 39: Were there two earthquakes in Jerusalem during Holy Week?
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:10-11
Written by Julie Saffrin
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Outside the city’s eastern gates, crowds in front of and behind Jesus were euphoric with praise and adulation of Jesus. They entered Jerusalem still laying their cloaks and shouting their hosannas. This was not the scene inside the city. Many Gentile residents had no idea who Jesus was, or why the city was in turmoil.
The population of Jerusalem during Jesus’ day, was anywhere from 50,000-100,000. But during Passover, the city swelled, some say, to three million people. Everyone was moving every which way. Can you imagine the pandemonium?
To make matters worse, Pontius Pilate, with his Roman troops atop war horses, had arrived from his palace Caesarea 65 miles northwest of Jerusalem. As governor of Judea, Pilate was in Jerusalem to maintain law and order between Gentiles and Jews. It was his job, to make sure the Jewish people would not attempt to overthrow the Roman government and remind them they were under Roman rule. One commentator suggests Pilate arrived on the first day of Passover Week, entering at the West Gate.
So, on one side of the city, Pilate entered in a majestic display of power from the west and on the other, Jesus, the Messiah, the King of all kings entered upon a lowly colt from the east.
Earthquakes occur when two tectonic plates crash into one another. But inside Jerusalem that day, two ways of governing converged. One came to rule with law and order, the other in peace – two forces felt by the people inside. As one commentator put it, the city of Jerusalem “was shaken like an earthquake!” From Pilate’s point of view, the turmoil might well have been sedition.
You may know the rest of the story. Jesus faced that governor. And a real, violent earthquake occurred when “Jesus took his last breath and gave up His Spirit.” (Matt. 27:50) At that instant, the curtain in the temple was torn in two. “The earth shook violently, rocks were split apart, and graves were opened. Then many of the holy ones who had died were brought back to life and came out of their graves. And after Jesus’ resurrection, they were plainly seen by many people walking in Jerusalem.” (Matt. 27:51-53) Can you imagine what they had to say, what they confirmed as to Who Jesus really was?
Reflection: Has there been a time when you’ve faced tectonic plates crashing into one another and were faced with deciding which way to go? Take a few minutes to think about it. What direction did you go? To the west or to the east?
Scripture to meditate on this week:
- John 10:9: “I am the Gateway. To enter through Me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction.”
- Isaiah 60:18: “You will call Your Walls Salvation and Your gates Praise.”
- Isaiah 54:10: “Even if the mountains were to crumble and the hills disappear, My Heart of steadfast, faithful Love will never leave you, and My Covenant of Peace with you will never be shaken,” says Yahweh, Whose Love and Compassion will never give up on you.”
Prayer: Precious, Lord. Forgive us when we go the wrong direction. Guide our future and our decisions. Amen.