Matthew 24:1-2

THE DOOM OF THE HOLY CITY

Matt. 24:1-2

When Jesus had left the precincts of the Temple, he was going away; and his disciples came to him to point out to him the buildings of the Temple area. He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? This is the truth I tell you–one stone will not be left here upon another that will not be thrown down.”

It may well be that at least some of the disciples had not been very often to Jerusalem. They were Galilaeans, men of the highlands and of the country, fishermen who knew the lakeside far better than they knew the city. Some of them at least would be like country folk come up to London for a visit, staggered by what they saw; and well they might be, for there was nothing quite like the Temple in the ancient world.

The summit of Mount Sion had been dug away to leave a plateau of 1,000 feet square. At the far end of it was the Temple itself (the naos, GSN3485). It was built of white marble plated with gold, and it shone in the sun so that a man could scarcely bear to look at it. Between the lower city and the Temple mount lay the valley of the Tyropoeon, and across this valley stretched a colossal bridge. Its arches had a span of 41 1/2 feet, and its spring stones were 24 feet long by 6 inches thick. The Temple area was surrounded by great porches, Solomon’s Porch and the Royal Porch. These porches were upheld by pillars, cut out of solid blocks of marble in one piece. They were 37 1/2 feet high, and of such a thickness that three men linked together could scarcely put their arms round them. At the corners of the Temple angle stones have been found which measure from 20 to 40 feet in length, and which weigh more than 100 tons. How they were ever cut and placed in position is one of the mysteries of ancient engineering.
Little wonder that the Galilaean fishermen looked and called Jesus’ attention to them.

Jesus answered that the day would come when not one of these stones would be left standing upon the other–and Jesus was right. In A.D. 70 the Romans, finally exasperated by the rebellious intransigence of the Jews, gave up all attempt at pacification and turned to destruction, and Jerusalem and the Temple were laid waste so that Jesus’ prophecy literally came true.

Here speaks Jesus the prophet. Jesus knew that the way of power politics can end only in doom. The man and the nation which will not take the way of God are heading for disaster–even in material things. The man and the nation which refuse the dream of God will find their own dreams shattered also.

Back to: THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW (Chapters 11-28)

Back to: Barclay’s Commentary

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