LENT DAY 41 - A NEW TEMPLE
St. Mark tells us that Jesus approached the Holy City of Jerusalem from the east: "When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives..." The Mount of Olives was just to the east of Jerusalem, and Bethphage and Bethany were on the eastern slope of the Mount.
Why in the world would the direction of his approach be important? Well, in the prophet Ezekiel, we hear that, because of the corruption of the Temple, the glory of the Lord had departed. This was one of the most devastating events in all of the Old Testament, for the Temple of the Lord was, in practically a literal sense, the dwelling place of Yahweh. To imagine that the glory of the Lord had quit the Temple was shocking in the extreme.
However, Ezekiel prophesied that one day the Lord would return to the Temple, and from the same direction by which he departed. Upon the return of the glory of Yahweh, Ezekiel predicted, the Temple would be rebuilt, reconstituted.
Pious Jews in Jesus' time certainly knew these texts. As they watched Jesus, they couldn't help but think of them, because Jesus proclaimed himself the true Temple: "You have a greater than the Temple here." And then see what Mark saw: Jesus approaching the old Temple from the east, just as Ezekiel said the glory of Yahweh would approach the Temple. Jesus, speaking and acting in the very person of God, is the glory of Yahweh taking possession of his house.