Our Holy Week Series first appeared in 2014. What was relevant 2,000 years ago remains so today. In the midst of COVID-19, we invite you to reflect on the events from the week that changed the world.
Sunday you enter the city of Jerusalem to the loud acclaim of people. Your popularity poll is off the charts. Then there was Monday. On Monday, Jesus cleared the temple of the injustice of false weights and exploitation of poor pilgrims. Now it’s Tuesday. Teaching Tuesday. What will Jesus do next?
The air is filled with uncertainty. Will Jesus come? Jesus was God on mission. He knew what was necessary and Tuesday morning found him back in the temple. Immediately the leaders challenged him. Looking at the now cleared temple they demand, “By what authority are you doing these things?” Mk. 11:28. But Jesus would not get pulled off mission. He answered their question with a question on John the Baptist that they could not answer.
Jesus knew his time was short. So he spent Tuesday teaching about the Kingdom. The rulers tried to stop him. They sought another trap asking whether one should pay taxes. But Jesus would not be deterred. “Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” Mt. 22:19. And asking them whose image was on the coin told them to give to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s. After the Pharisees failed, the Sadducees tried to trap him on a question about marriage. This time the crowds “were astonished at his teaching.” Mt. 22:33.
The Pharisees returned asking him about the greatest commandment. Jesus cut right to the heart of his message: Love God. Love your neighbor. Mt. 22:34-40. The leaders were angry and would now take full opportunity to crucify him.
The Power of Teaching Tuesday
But the people marveled at his teaching. Jesus taught about the Kingdom. He told a story of a man who held a great banquet but people did not come. They put other priorities ahead of God – “they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business.” Mt. 22:5. How many of us are busy this week and not paying attention to Christ call to Kingdom priority?
Jesus spoke of how actions speak louder than words. He told the story of a man with two sons whom he asked to do his work – one said ‘no’ but then went and did what was asked; one said ‘yes’ but then did not go. Which carried out his will? Do we talk a good talk, but fail to walk the walk?
Jesus talked about a man who owned a vineyard and the tenants killed his servants and ultimately his only son. Jesus knew what the leaders were going to do, but how often do we selfishly focus on our needs ahead of the service of others?
Love for the more important matters – justice, mercy and faithfulness.
All of Tuesday pointed to the profound truth of humbly loving God and loving others. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Mt. 23:12. Jesus did not have time to mince words. To the proud he put plainly: “Woe to you…hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.” Mt. 23:23.
Jesus pointed to the offering of a widow to demonstrate true faith. He spoke to the disciples about the end times. He plainly summarized his teaching on the Kingdom: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Mt. 25:34-36. The just cared for the least of these.
Jesus punctuated this by having dinner Tuesday night with Simon the leper. Mt. 26:6-13. No one ate with the least of these – a leper – a social outcast. But Jesus did. At dinner a woman anointed his feet with expensive perfume. While the disciples criticized her for wasting money, Jesus praised her. Jesus loved the least, the last and the lost.
May the teaching of Tuesday be carried with us every day as we love God, love our neighbor and
Go and Do Likewise.