Meditating on the words and acts of Jesus from Sunday & Monday of Holy Week!
Jesus is dead by the end of the week
Murdered by the religious,
abandoned by his followers,
forsaken by his Father!
What would you do knowing that this is the week you were to die? What would you say? Who would you spend time with? What would be on your heart and mind?
Let’s walk this week with Jesus by remembering the events leading up to His horrific death and glorious resurrection:
Yesterday -- Sunday -- The Triumphal Entry
(Matthew 21:1; Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29; John 12:12)
Palm leaves and robes are thrown on the ground making way for the King. The energy and noise of celebration reaches deafening levels as Jesus rides into Jerusalem. Making his way through the city, He ascends to His rightful place, not the palace, but His Holy Temple. He is The One that prophets have been promising for centuries...He is here! “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).”
But, however awesome the praise of the people, they misunderstand the King’s coming. He is not coming as they hoped, a political conqueror, but as they need, a Savior...the Liberator of their Souls! He comes conquering hearts, sin, death, and hell!
How this experience must be bittersweet to the Savior. His name being hollowed in His Holy City by people that He created and loves but knowing that the people misunderstand his coming, his mission, and their need. And, in their rejection, Jerusalem and her inhabitants will suffer to the point of its own destruction by Titus in AD 70. Knowing all things and knowing this, Jesus looks over His city and bitterly weeps.
Jesus is King -- possessing all rights and power of Holy Infinitude -- yet He lays them aside to serve the needs of others.
What’s the significance of Jesus riding into the city and ending His Triumphal Entry at the Temple? Why not the Palace? Why not City Council Chambers? What statement is He making?
Journeying back to Jerusalem from Bethany, where Jesus was likely staying with Martha, Mary, and recently resurrected Lazarus, Jesus stops and notices a strange little fig tree. By this time in the year, most fig trees were still waiting for leaves to grow but this Fig Tree is full of leaves, an early bloomer. However, Jesus points out that a tree with this foliage should surely be producing fruit...but there is no fruit to be found. In response, Jesus curses the fig tree and it begins to wither from the roots upward. Why would Jesus -- the one who invites little children to come to him, heals the blind, feeds the hungry -- curse a fig tree? Well, he curses the fig tree on Monday and it withers immediately but we won’t find out the significance until tomorrow (Tuesday). Interestingly, the lessons we learn from the fig tree will dovetail awesomely into what we see Jesus saying and doing in the cleansing of the Temple (Mark 11:22).
Moving on from the Fig Tree Lesson, Jesus begins purging the Temple of the moneychangers. Jesus is calling Israel out on her corrupt hypocrisy: religious duty without love and devotion from the heart. In so doing, He reminds all of Israel that the Temple was always intended to be a house of prayer -- a house where God and His people could meet, live life together, and live out their covenant relationship. Israel, however, would rather exploit God for His gift rather than yearn for God Himself (Mark 11:15-19
The Holy Week reminds us of the priorities of Christ.
If the Fig Tree represents Israel, then what do you think Jesus might be trying to teach His disciples?
With all the sacrificial work and activity going on in the Temple, why does Jesus want His Temple to be known as a “House of Prayer”?