Passion Week: Tuesday

Jesus and the chief priests
This is the day Jesus pushes the envelope to the point of getting himself killed.  It is a day that is filled with teaching as well as traps by the Pharisees.  The day begins with Jesus and the disciples walking back into Jerusalem from Bethany.  As they are walking they pass the same tree that Jesus had cursed yesterday when He attempted to find figs.  They notice that today the tree has completely withered.  The fig tree, the symbol of God’s blessing, withered and dead, symbolic of what has now happened to the temple.

They proceed into town and head back to the temple.  Upon their arrival, the chief priests are waiting for Jesus.  I can imagine they were enraged as they stood in the mess of the broken tables from the day before.  

The chief priests sharply ask Jesus, "Who gave you the authority to do this?"  Jesus halts them with a question of His own, one that they can't answer.  When they respond that they don't know the answer, Jesus leaves them dumbfounded as He tells them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

Jesus outwits the Pharisees  
Jesus then begins to tell the parable of the Wicked Tenants.  In this story, Jesus is obviously describing what is going to happen in just two and a half days.  He speaks of a man that rents a vineyard to some farmers while he is away on a journey.  While he is away, the master sends a number of servants to check on the vineyard.  The tenants proceed to beat and kill the servants until the man finally sends his only son, thinking the tenants would have to respect him. Instead,the tenants  decide to seize and kill the son, throwing him out of the vineyard.  When the master learns of this he returns to the vineyard, kills the tenants and gives the vineyard to others.  This is an interesting passage as it eludes to the spreading of Christianity being taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles.

The Pharisees are angered by this story because they know Jesus is talking about them.  They instead decide to try to trap Him with a political question.  They ask Him if they should pay taxes to Caesar or not?  If Jesus says "no" to this then they can report Him to the Romans for treason. If Jesus answered "yes" He would lose much of His support from the people as it would appear He supported Rome.  Once again Jesus gives a brilliant answer that leaves them silent: "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."

Time and time again the Pharisees attempt to trip Him up with questions intended to be traps and time and time again Jesus is able to answer them. 

Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple
Finally Jesus leaves the temple area.  He and several of the disciples walk about a quarter to a half mile from the temple to the Mount of Olives.  From here they can overlook the city and the temple and Jesus begins to tell of the future.  

He foretells the eventual destruction of the temple, an event that took place almost 40 years later in 70 A.D.  Jesus concludes with this warning, "Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!'"

I can't help but wonder if Jesus, as He spoke these words, thought about the fact that His disciples would soon be sleeping in the garden when He needed them most. Or that Peter, His most loyal follower, would soon be denying he even knew Jesus.

Mary and the perfume
That evening Jesus returns to Bethany where He stays at the house of Simon the Leper.  While they are reclining at the table, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, takes a bottle of a very expensive perfume and pours it over Jesus.  This perfume, known as nard, was worth a years income, $30,000 to $40,000 by today's standards.  

As she is pouring it on Jesus, Judas complains that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  Jesus rebukes him and again eludes to His death as He says, "She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial..."  Even as Jesus gives ample hints that His death is drawing near nobody seems to catch on.  

Judas seals the fate of Jesus 
As Mary is performing this beautiful gesture for Jesus, Judas, perhaps angered that he was just rebuked, slips away in the night to prepare a deal with the Pharisees and the Chief Priests in which he is offered 30 pieces of silver to turn Jesus over to them.

Tonight before we go to bed, I pray that we will remember both the beauty and the evil that was taking place on this night 2,000 ago.  And who are we tonight?  Do we display the selfless, loving, beauty of Mary in how we live?  Or do we act on our own interests, motivated by our own desires like Judas?    

Matthew 21:18- 26:16, Mark 11: 20- 14:11, Luke 20:1 - 22:6


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