Devotional thoughts based on the chronology of the Passion Week
What a Day!
“Drastic times call for drastic measures.” This idiom has been played across our nation and throughout the world, in times past, as authorities exercised “drastic” measures to prevent further spread of the highly contagious and deadly viruses. Nevertheless, it’s a comfort to know that “through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is Your [God’s] faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Indeed, drastic times call for drastic measures. While our world has wrestled with this deadly virus, God also wrestled with the greatest scourge of humanity – sin. Deadlier than any virus or disease, sin has brought physical and spiritual death to everyone (Romans 5:12; 6:23). The only cure is faith in Jesus (Romans 10:9-13). Jesus is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). More on this later.
Returning to the events of the Passion Week, Jesus understood that drastic times call for drastic measures. And so, when He returned to the temple on Monday, Jesus, with righteous indignation, drove out the unscrupulous businessmen, the corrupt priests, and the ignorant buyers, who had turned the temple into a “den of thieves” (Mark 11:17).
Obviously, the scribes and the chief priests, who granted permission for these businessmen to set up shop in the house of God, were outraged with Jesus. They challenged the authority of Jesus (Matthew 21:23) and conspired to destroy Jesus (Luke 19:47) but were afraid to act because they feared Jesus and the impact of His teachings upon the people (Mark 11:18).
After the temple area had been cleansed, Jesus spent the rest of Monday instructing the people who had witnessed His cleansing the temple. Indeed, Jesus restored the temple’s purpose to be a house of prayer and worship. When Monday evening came, Jesus and His disciples left the city [Jerusalem] and spent the night at the home of His dear friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, which was two miles away.
TUESDAY, SPRING A.D. 30
Several noteworthy events occurred on Tuesday.
The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree: Having spent the night in Bethany, Jesus and His disciples returned to Jerusalem early Tuesday morning. As they approached the city, the disciples noticed how quickly the fig tree, the one Jesus had cursed on Monday, had withered because it dried up from the roots (Mark 11:20). Jesus responded to their astonishment by assuring them that prayer is powerful because prayer moves the hand of God. However, to move the hand of God, the believer must not harbor doubt or harbor an unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:20-26).
The Challenge to Jesus’ Authority: When Jesus and His disciples came into the temple, the chief priests and elders of the people confronted Jesus and challenged His authority while He was teaching the people (Matthew 21:23-27). Jesus’ teachings were so powerfully clear and numerous that it was obvious to everyone that Jesus’ authority came from heaven and exposed the hypocrisy of the Jewish spiritual leaders.
The Warnings through Parables: Jesus responded to His critics with three parables; “The Parable of the Two sons,” “The Parable of the Vineyard,” and “The Parable of the Wedding Feast” (Matthew 21:28 – 22:14). As expected, the Pharisees were offended and plotted how they might entangle Jesus with His teachings (Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26). But when their best minds could not entrap Jesus, the religious authorities were silenced.
The Denunciation against the Scribes and Pharisees: When the other “political party,” the Sadducees, were unable to entrap Jesus with His teachings (Matthew 22:23-46; Mark 12:18-40; Luke 20:27-40), Jesus redirected His attention from His disciples and the people whom He was teaching and denounced the scribes and Pharisees through a series of eight woes against the religious authorities because their outward show of God did not align with their inward hearts. In other words, Jesus called them out for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23).
It is interesting to read how the gospel writers Mark and Luke contrast the denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees with the widow’s offering of two mites because she gave all she had from her heart, unlike those who gave out of their abundance but with little to no heart (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4).
The Prediction of the Temple’s Destruction: Wow! What a day this must have been for Jesus. As Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple, one of the disciples commented on the beauty of the temple. Suspecting that Jesus might have been emotionally spent due to the challenges against His authority, Jesus responded to the disciple’s comment with sadness in His voice. Jerusalem would be destroyed. When the disciples asked when this event would occur, Jesus responded with what is commonly known as the “Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-33).
Well, it’s been quite a day for Jesus. But sadly, Tuesday would end as the chief priests and scribes would seek a way to kill Jesus (Matthew 26:1-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2). When Jesus and the disciples arrived at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany, a woman came to the house and anointed Jesus with precious, fragrant oil; it was in preparation for His burial. And at the same time, Judas agreed to betray His teacher and friend, Jesus.
I am emotionally spent, having read these Scriptures and understanding what Jesus experienced on this second day within Passion Week. The challenges to His authority, the deceit from others who tried to entrap Him, the hypocrisy of leaders, knowing the fateful destruction of Jerusalem [both in the near and distant future], the betrayal of His friend Judas, and the anointing of His body in preparation for His death, I wonder if Jesus saw a bright spot in the day’s events. I think He did. Where? When Jesus saw the poor widow offer two cents, which was all she possessed, to the temple treasury, Jesus recognized that her gift came from her heart.
I believe when God sees us serve Him and others with all our hearts, even when it hurts, we bring a smile to Jesus’ heart. Whatever hardships and disappointments we encounter throughout this day, let us always do the right thing and be on the lookout for Jesus. He may flash you a smile in the life of someone you may be serving.
Father, thank You for the Spirit’s leading to do Your will. Help us to see. Help us to endure. Help us to glorify You. Help us to recognize Jesus’ smile, today.
Forever your son,