Mark 11:17 “…for all nations”
After a recent lesson on the Temple cleansing someone said to me, “Sounds like you had more to say about the Jubilee. We don’t hear much about that do we?” Yes and yes.
How is it that we miss the Jubilee in the Gospels? (At least, in our circles the Jubilee is not much mentioned).
In the beginning of his book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Mike Lacona tells us about his wife’s German grandfather and his diary keeping habit. “My wife’s grandfather Albert Weible kept a daily dairy for years.” On April 8, 1917 his grandfather wrote: “The weather is very nice and warmer. The ground is very much [?]. Pa…didn’t go to church today. I went alone on Pearl [horse]. There were quite a few there in spite of the mud. In the afternoon we all went up to Fred’s” (p.33).
What else happened the week of April 8, 1917? The US declared war on Germany on April 6th. There is no mention of this momentous turn of events in the diary.
Not only are key events from WWI missing in Mr. Weible’s diary, Lacona goes on to say that “Albert Weible kept diary entries every day. Yet he never mentioned the war.”
Never mentioned the war? He gives notice to weather, farm, church, family, births, etc., but no notice to that large, life-altering, cross continental struggle.
So also the Jubilee and its accompanying imagery may go unnoticed. The Jubilee is a golden thread spun through the Gospels from gildings gathered in the OT. Here the jubilee shows up again in the Temple “cleansing.”
The jubilee of the OT was a time when freedom, debt release, property return, care for the destitute and cycled around every 50 years (or so it was supposed to, but probably not was consistently observed, see Lev 25-26). This jubilee Jesus announces in the Temple is the Ultimate Jubilee, the final, long lasting, world encompassing Jubilee of the Gospel of Messiah (see also Isaiah 61:1-2).
You see Jesus ransacked the Temple not merely because of shady business going on within its walls. In its wide courts Jesus’ voice echoed the good news that Yahweh’s time of full release and full forgiveness had arrived; not just for the Jews; for all nations and all peoples. Jesus quotes from Isaiah because Isaiah is a prophet who loves to wade in the river of jubilee theology.
John the Baptist was also a prophet of jubilee joy and forgiveness. As if singing the same tune, Jesus began his ministry by reading from a jubilee text in Isaiah (see Luke 4). Then, here in the Temple Jesus refers to jubilee revival again (Is 56:7). The Gospels are telling us that the ultimate day of divine release has arrived in Jesus.
“Let no foreigner [that’s you and me] who is bound to Yahweh say,
‘Yahweh will surely exclude me from his people.’
“For this is what Yahweh declares:
‘…I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.” (see Isaiah 56:1-8)
More about this tomorrow in our Sunday AM Bible study.