How would you say you live your life? With faith that God is powerful? Are you truly sure of his real power?
Do you live as if our Creator is still is in the gig of being awesome. Or live life hoping to see him do something someday which is Awesome?
Still Awesome or was Awesome?
To stand in the actual place where Jesus spoke his teaching and words to the Disciples brings to life his words in a way which almost makes them jump right off the page. Understanding of that location and its culture is key to interpreting the teachings of Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus’ Greek name) and a milestone in our reading of scripture.
In Matt 25 we find Jesus with his disciples making their way back to Jerusalem from his night B&B at Bethany. Bethany was placed on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives just outside the holy city. This location is key to decoding what the Rabbi means when he says to his followers…
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done” (Matt 21:21).
Jerusalem and its surrounding area are well know for its mountainous wilderness scenes which makes Jesus’ illustration of great faith a powerfully strong one. However, there is a specific location that I believe Jesus was referring to and which reveals how loaded Jesus’ teaching was.
Let me explain what was going at the time of Matt 25.
Herod the Great was a fearless king who would do anything to keep his power over his whole Kingdom. He was powerful and evil and before being King was a violent military leader well known for murdering those in his way. He killed his wives and children simply because he was paranoid that they were trying to knock him off for his cash. Herod taxed the Jewish people alongside the Roman Empire until it reduced people to poverty purely so that he could build his kingdom. He built amphitheatres, theatres, racecourses, seaports (in the sea), sewage systems and water systems. He built with massive stones that even still today we don’t know how he lifted or moved them. He was an oppressor who did things simply so that he could impress the world. Some historians believe he probably was one of the richest men in the world ‘ever’.
Herod had around 500,000 people on his pay roll; he built huge structures in places where it was impossible to build. On one occasion Herod chose a location to build a fortress/Palace but it wasn’t mountain shaped enough. So he had his own mountain shipped in (Don’t ask me where he found a unused mount). On this he created a Palace, which he cleverly called ‘Herodium’ or ‘Herodion’.
As Jesus looked out from the south side of the City of Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea, he would have clearly seen Herod’s Herodium with its swimming pools, huge meeting rooms and dining rooms. All this had been built with the money from the Jewish taxpayers.
So when Jesus turns to the Disciples, he is speaking of a specific mountain, a man-made mountain; a mountain, which represents misused power, misused money and a yearning for the lifestyle of opulence. To a Jewish ear, when he refers to the image of the sea, this would represent the abyss, or, as we would say, hell.
Jesus is clearly telling his disciples, “Hey guys, do you realise that with my power and my strength, you will be able to tell the mighty powers of this world to drop dead?” and “Guys you have the power in me to bring down the evil of this world and throw it into the pits of Hell.”
As you stand and look out over your town or city what is your Herodium, the palaces of power that oppress and enslave those around, pause, and think about this for a moment.
Our God is the God who brings down human powers, human oppressors, human dictators and time has shown that it only takes the faith of one person to turn things around.
Question the structures of Evil around you, because Rabbi Yeshua says to you,
“If you have faith, not only can you do little things in my name, but you can say to these structures of oppression, ‘Go, throw yourself into Hell’.”
We need to start to realise that people like Herod don’t have the last word but God does! God is the power!