The Final Week: Tuesday 31st March, AD 33
(Mt 21:20-25:46; Mk 11:20-13:37; Lk 20:1-21:36)
On the Tuesday before Jesus’ death, Jesus said and taught a lot of material. He explains a little bit more about why he cursed the fig tree the day before, he teaches and offends a whole lot of people in the temple, and he predicts the future, especially regarding his death. Perhaps before reading on, why don’t you read the passages from Matthew, Mark and Luke that are listed below the title of this blog.
Welcome back! As Jesus and his disciples are once again walking back into Jerusalem, they pass the withered fig tree and Jesus explains what on earth that was all about. The main reason Jesus cursed the fig tree was to illustrate the need for faith in God. As Jesus cursed the fig tree, we can pray for mountains to be moved. If we do not doubt, but believe, our prayer will be effective to do great things. He also indicates the vital necessity of forgiveness in our own lives… to forgive others as we have been forgiven.
As their journey continues, they get to the temple. “What’s he going to do today?” they all were surely wondering. This controversialist was a welcome addition to the daily temple routine for the neutrals. The religious people who were all offended the day before challenge Jesus’ authority by asking what right he has to do the things he’d just done (Mk 11:28). He was after all stepping on some pretty pious toes! The religious people try their best to trap Jesus into condemning himself by giving them something they could use against him in his arrest. But Jesus is all too smart for that. He turns it around on them, and tells some parables… the parable of the Two Sons (Mt 21:28-32), the parable of the Tenants (Mt 21:33-44; Mk 12:1-11; Lk 20:9-18) and the parable of the Wedding Feast (Mt 21:1-14). In every parable, the pharisees come out very badly, receiving judgment while God welcomes in prostitutes and corrupt tax collectors, who are willing to trust in Jesus, not in their Jewishness.
The religious people continue trying to trap Jesus but over and over again throughout the course of the conversation, he confounds, confuses, impresses, shocks and completely destroys their arguments. He then goes on the offensive, asking his own questions, and the outcome was?—
“And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.”
After the subtle questions and answers though, Jesus goes all out, proclaiming publicly seven ‘woes’ agains the religious leaders among other things (Mt 23:1-39; Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20:45-47). There is no doubt now. Jesus is against the religious leaders, and only one can come out of this unscathed.
Jesus leaves the temple after spending the day there. Jesus predicts that the temple will be thrown down and that not one stone would be left on top of the other. This happens in AD 70 when the Romans sack Jerusalem in our physical reality, and happens spiritually because the temple God inhabits is now His people.
So now, we understand a whole lot more about what is happening this week. The motivations for each party are clear. The pharisees and religious leaders want Jesus dead—he is the biggest threat they’ve faced. Jesus wants the authority of the pharisees and religious leaders overthrown and replaced with his own. The Romans are keeping a watchful eye because for them, they want the peace to be kept.
[The book itself says it the best way…]
“The king has come for his kingdom and has issued a clear and direct challenge to the reigning structures of political, economic and religious power. The drama can end in only one of two ways. Either Jesus will topple the reigning powers and establish his messianic kingdom—or he will be killed. No one at that time could possibly comprehend that in God’s mysterious plan, there was a third option.”