Holy Week – Tuesday
Holy Week – Tuesday
On the Roman calendar, Tuesday is the day of the week dedicated to Mars – the Roman god of war. It seems fitting then that during Holy Week this is the day the religious authorities begin to formally assert their war against Jesus. And I haven’t been able to find this in the scriptures yet, but I’m pretty sure this had to be the original plot line and release date for the movie “Mars Attacks!” Anyhow… it turns out to be quite a busy day for our Lord.
After seeing the enormous popularity of Jesus and how He is challenging established Jewish authority (even more so than He challenges Roman authority), the religious leaders of Jerusalem feel extremely threatened, offended, and begin to go on the attack. He is no longer a folk prophet roaming around the countryside – now He’s in their kitchen, teaching to large crowds every day in the temple.
They directly challenge Jesus’ authority – hoping to get Him to claim divinity so they can accuse Him of blasphemy. They repeatedly ask Him malicious and adversarial questions, and try to skewer Him on the tines of philosophical forks. For example, the Pharisees – master legalists – ask if it is morally acceptable to pay taxes to Caesar and thereby support a corrupt regime OR refuse to pay taxes and break Roman law. They try to destroy His credibility by challenging how the Messiah could be both a son of David (human) AND the son of God (divine). They test Him with legalistic questions about commandments trying to get Him to contradict Himself or scripture. The Sadducees try to trap Him with a theological question about resurrection – which they don’t even believe in.
Jesus is far too clever for them, of course, and masterfully uses their attacks as teaching moments. He responds to them in brilliant parables that both expose their hypocrisy and teach His disciples at the same time. The number of parables recorded in the Gospels during this time is far more than there is room to go into here, but I genuinely hope you will take time to read through them on your own (see references below).
Almost lost in all the confrontation and commotion is the beautiful story of the widow contributing her two mites. Jesus uses this as yet another occasion to teach that the essence of following Him is about the condition of the heart, not pride-based works of legalism.
The religious leaders are CONSUMED by pride and legalism – they have a thirst for power and revel in their system of rules that allows them to maintain a holier-than-thou image of superiority. Jesus says “they preach but do not practice” and “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.” “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” It must have been supremely frustrating for the educated elites to be out-debated by someone with no formal education.
Speaking on warfare of a different kind, Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple and warns about coming persecution. He teaches about end times – the abomination of desolation, the tribulation, the false “christ” and false prophet, Jesus’ ultimate return, and the final judgment. He earnestly implores His followers to be diligent and stay alert for His return – to not get lazy, be caught off guard, or be caught misbehaving thinking the master isn’t watching.
John tells us that despite Jesus’ best teaching, His physical presence among the citizens of Jerusalem, and performing many signs and miracles – there were still many who did not believe in Him. This fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah 6:10 and 53:1, which predict that the Messiah will be rejected. In Matthew, Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22 to the chief priests and elders: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
At my workplace we call that kind of Tuesday “having a week with 2 Mondays” or “the second Monday of the week.” If you find yourself in that place where your life feels like a week full of Monday’s, I pray Christ’s peace for you. I’m not just saying that like “You’re in my thoughts and prayers!” – I really am praying that. Know that Jesus holds you in His arms and endured the trials of life – and death – to bring you everlasting peace. He will make all things right in His time.
No matter if the Lord is leading you through still pastures or billowing storms, perhaps you can bring light to someone else. If you are basking in God’s goodness currently – tell someone about it. If you are tossed by waves or crashed on the rocks – tell someone about it. Either way you might be a source of light in someone else’s darkness.
“And Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.’” John 12:44-46
Tomorrow: Murder conspiracy, Judas plays “Let’s Make A Deal”
Matthew Chapters 21-25
Mark Chapters 11-13
Luke Chapters 19-21
John Chapter 12