In Jesus’ day when standing on the Mount of Olives there was one thing that dominated the skyline of Jerusalem – the Temple – hovering over the Old City, and visible from every balcony in the upper city. It was the great building project of King Herod the Great who enhanced the existing Temple to be a “wonder of the world.” The temple occupied a platform twice as large as the Roman Forum and four times as large as the Athenian Acropolis. Herod reportedly used so much gold to cover the outside walls that anyone who gazed at them in bright sunlight risked blinding herself. It is no surprise that “… some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings (Luke 21:5). And so, there are the disciples taking in the view – the Temple and all its glory. It was a structure that held religious memory, anchored an identity as a people chosen by God. It was a sign of their Covenant with God. The Temple was the sign of the one, true God, home of scriptures and the commandments. The Temple and all it promised was their desire and fulfillment of their dreams.
Today’s “Word of the Day” from Merriam-Webster is “crucible.” I like to see if I can guess at the etymological origin of the words. My guess for “crucible” was founded on the Latin cruc (“cross”). Alas it was not. It is based on the Medieval Latin crucibulum, a noun for an earthen pot used to melt metals, and in English it first referred to a vessel made of a very heat-resistant material (such as porcelain) used for melting a substance that requires a high degree of heat. But It’s possible that the resemblance between cruc- and crucible encouraged people to start using crucible to mean “a severe trial,” as that sense is synonymous with one meaning of cross.