As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ (Matthew 24.1-2)
I said that people were listening for what Jesus said to catch him out. Jesus is leaving the city once again. We have seen him doing this each day since his triumphant arrival on Palm Sunday. At the west end of the Temple were a magnificent flight of steps and the pilgrims would have entered and exited the temple using these steps. Pilgrims to the Holy Land today can see them and walk on them. They are a magnificent flight and even with the passage of the years they are still impressive. You can easily imagine the disciples with Jesus coming out of the outer court and heading down the steps and being overawed with the scale of the place. All the evidence suggests that this was one of the wonders of the world, simply magnificent and in its magnificence something of a glimpse of heaven.
And as they are standing there, taking it all in, Jesus says that the whole thing will be destroyed. Each of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) contain shorter or longer accounts of this teaching. It is like the fig tree, Jesus is actually talking about the temple of his body and the resurrection. But it is also true that the Temple was destryed in AD 70 and was never reconstructed.
But his words would be repeated back to him by the spies when he comes to trial.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps 19.14)