When the children arrive at the tree of life, Meilon and Betil are talking to other angels. Walking a little way along the river they wait until the conversation has finished.
‘Come’, calls Meilon. ‘We are ready now.’
We pass the beautiful gardens and the mansions, but turn off in a different direction. Ahead we can see lots of beautiful colours, it is another magnificent garden.
After walking short a distance, we all stop short. Our eyes cannot believe the beauty before us.
‘Oooooh, look at that’, exclaims Summer.
‘I cannot believe it’, says Jeannette.
Meilon and Betil laugh, and together they say, ‘Enjoy the flowers. They certainly are beautiful.’
‘Oh the beauty of heaven’, states Summer. ‘I never dreamed it would be so magnificent.’
Both girls are unable to take their eyes off the scene before them.
‘I wish I could take a photo for my Mum’, says Jeannette.
‘Me too’, adds Summer.
Looking at each other, the girls imagine their mothers with them.
‘They would be so happy to see these wonderful flowers.’
‘Ooooh, I just want to look at them forever’, sighs Jeannette.
‘Dear children’ cautions Meilon, ‘as you look at their beauty, remember that Jesus created these flowers. He is the One who designed all the beauty with His Father, and spoke it all into existence.’
‘Oh, I love Him so much’, breathes Summer.
‘Now children’, states Meilon, ‘you are going to see more of Jesus on earth, but time has moved on. It is now the last few weeks of His life. It has been very difficult for Him as the Messiah, but He has constantly gained the victory.’
Every day Jesus faces the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, scribes and leaders of Israel, who question everything He says. They try to find a fault in Him, but Jesus consistently defeats them.
One day the Pharisees send a number of their disciples with the Herodians to try and entangle Jesus,
‘Master, we know you are true and always teach the truth, tell us is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?’
Jesus knows their purpose and replies, ‘Why do you tempt me you hypocrites. Show me the tribute money.’
They place a penny in His hand.
Jesus holds the penny up before them and asks, ‘Whose image is on it?’
‘Caesars’, answer the Herodians.
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and unto God the things that are Gods.”’
The men marvel at His answer.
Later that day a group of Sadducees approach Jesus with their trick question.
‘Master, Moses said that if a man dies with no children, his brother must marry the woman. If he dies too, and has no children, she marries another brother. But he dies too. In the end she has married seven brothers. In the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven?’
The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, so the question is pure hypocrisy.
Jesus replies, ‘You do not know the Scripture or the power of God. In the resurrection, there will be no marriage. Everyone will be like the angels.’
The Sadducees are silenced.
When the Pharisees hear that Jesus has silenced the Sadducees, they gather together to present another of their trick questions.
‘This one will trap Him’, says Satan to his friend.
‘But we keep losing Master’, says Yami. ‘He is clever.’
‘Naaa, not clever, just lucky’, answers the devil.
‘Well I hope His luck runs out’, suggests Yami.
The Pharisees choose a young lawyer to approach Jesus with a much- debated question.
‘Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?’
Jesus answers, ‘“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind. And the second is like it, namely, thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself.”’
The lawyer is very impressed and compliments Jesus. The Saviour then replies, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of heaven.’
‘Wow’, says Kevin. ‘Jesus really knows how to answer doesn’t He?’
‘Yes’, states Jeannette. ‘He even complimented the lawyer.’
‘And the lawyer complimented Jesus’, adds Summer.
‘I am sure the Pharisees were not happy with the lawyer’, suggests Kevin.
It is early in the morning, yet the temple is already crowded. The debate between Jesus and the leaders of Israel is fascinating to the common people.
Jesus knows the corrupt character of the leaders, and His next parable reveals their hypocrisy.
‘There was a man who planted a vineyard. He put a hedge around it, dug a winepress and built a tower. He did everything to make it a good vineyard. Then he hired men to look after it. When the fruit was ripe, he sent his servants to collect it, but the hired men killed them. He sent other servants, but they killed them too.
The owner then decided to send His son. ‘They will respect my son’ he said to himself.
But when the hired servants saw the son, they cried out, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill Him and take His inheritance.’ So they caught him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.’
Jesus asks the Pharisees and Sadducees, ‘When the owner of the vineyard comes, what do you think he will do to the hired servants?’
The leaders reply. ‘He will destroy those wicked men, and let out his vineyard unto others.’
Jesus then asks, ‘Have you heard about the stone rejected by the builders?’
The Pharisees are well aware of the stone. It had been rejected when the temple was built, but was later found to be a perfect fit for the most important position in the temple. The leaders also know that the ‘rejected stone’ is a symbol for the Messiah.
Jesus continues. ‘That stone becomes the cornerstone in the building, and it is wonderful in God’s eyes. “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”’
He then tells the leaders. ‘The kingdom of heaven will be taken from you and given to others.’
The Pharisees and Sadducees are very upset. They realise the parable refers to themselves as the men who killed the son, when they are at that very moment planning the death of God’s Son. Despite their guilt, these wicked leaders have publicly condemned themselves.
Later they ask each other, ‘Why did we say those words?’
The nation’s leaders are gathered in one of the temple council rooms, and only those who desire to have Jesus removed have been invited. Caiaphas, the high priest, representing Annas the older high priest, is present.
‘We are being made a laughingstock before the people’, states a Pharisee.
‘Yes’, says Caiaphas. ‘We need to get rid of this man.’
‘What do you plan to do?’ asks a Sadducee.
‘We must watch’, advises Caiaphas ‘All of us. Keep your eyes open for an opportunity to trap Him.’
‘But we’ve been doing that for almost three and a half years, and He defeats us.’
‘Yes, it is true’, replies the high priest, ‘but we just have to be patient and wait.’
‘He is becoming too popular.’
‘Yes’, states another member. ‘He is becoming more popular by the day, but we can’t do anything that will get the people in an uproar or Rome will be on our backs.’
‘What can we do?’
‘We need to get rid of Him by the law’, suggests Caiaphas. The councillors are amazed.
‘How?’ they ask.
One reminisces, ‘You remember how He disappears when we are just about to get Him, like in Nazareth. They were just about to push Him over the cliff, when suddenly He was gone.’
‘He could disappear any time’, adds another.
Caiaphas has the answer. ‘But if we arrest Him by law, it is a different matter. He believes in the law and won’t avoid arrest. But if we stone Him, He could disappear.’
An old Pharisee asks, ‘Do you mean we take Him to trial for crucifixion by Rome?’
‘Yes’, replies the high priest. ‘He must be brought before Pilate.’
Evil smiles pass from one man to another.
‘According to the law’, states Caiaphas, ‘anyone hung on a tree is cursed, so He can’t escape if we follow the law.’
‘We need to find a reason to have Him arrested.’
‘No’, answers the high priest. ‘We will arrest Him, then have the trial, and find a reason.’
‘How could that ever take place?’ asks one of the Sadducees.
Suddenly there is a knock on the door.
The men look at each other.
No one moves.
Finally Caiaphas sends a Sadducee to the door.
‘Be careful’, someone whispers.
Looking intently at the man standing in the dark, he asks, ‘You are one of the disciples of Jesus, aren’t you?’
‘Yes, my name is Judas. I have something to tell you. Can I come in?’
Caiaphas calls out, ‘Let him in.’ Judas is nervous.
He is invited to sit down and Caiaphas asks what he has to say.
‘Um….. Ah….. You want to stop Jesus from teaching the people don’t you?’
‘Go on’, says Caiaphas.
‘Well, I can see He disturbs you in the temple. He always wins the arguments and the people are gradually turning from you to Him.’
‘What do you have in mind?’
‘I know where He goes for prayer at night.’
‘Could you lead us to Him?’
‘Yes’, replies Judas.
‘When would you do that?’ asks an older man.
‘I don’t know right now. But I can watch.’
‘It can’t be in the public eye’, warns a scribe.
‘No’, adds Caiaphas, ‘It must be quiet and exclusive. It will be Passover in a few days and the crowds will follow Him.’ ‘Yes, but while everyone is eating Passover, they will leave Him alone’, states Judas.
‘What do you want for it?’ asks Caiaphas.
‘When we get our man, you will get your silver.’ Judas leaves the council and the heavy door is shut behind him. The men are dumb-founded. They all jump up and down in excitement.
‘Who would ever guess?’ suggests one.
A Sadducee asks, ‘How did that happen?’
‘Providence is on our side’, states the high priest. ‘Providence?’ asks someone.
‘To save the nation’, concludes Caiaphas, ‘It is better that one man die than the whole nation.’
‘Yes, you are right. Meeting adjourned.’
‘Ooooh, it is so sad’, laments Summer.
‘Yes’, responds Jeannette. ‘Poor Jesus. We know what is happening to Him, but does Jesus know?’
‘Oh yes’, replies Meilon. ‘He knows exactly what they are doing?’
‘And He let Judas go to the council?’ she asks.
‘Yes. Remember, free will is given to everyone. Judas made his own decisions and Jesus allowed it’, explains the angel. Betil then tells the children that tomorrow will be Jesus’ last day in the temple. He has been teaching the people every day since the 10th, and this is His last opportunity to warn the people.
‘You will first have a glimpse of something special’, hints Meilon.