Passion Week; Day 2-3; Monday and Tuesday.
Wednesday April 8, 2020
There is argument about what day Christ died. I’m not going to get into it. We will count the days of this week as best is revealed by the gospels.
Barren fig tree
Cleansing of the Temple.
On leaving Bethany Monday morning, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree on the way side that was full of leaves, which would indicate that there was fruit. The gospel is clear that it was not the season for figs, but even though that was the case, this particular tree was filled with leaves. Yet He found no fruit, neither a clinging fruit from last year or a new unripened fruit (which the people in the East would eat if hungry enough). Jesus cursed the tree.
Now in the morning, when He returned to the city, He became hungry. 19 And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you." And at once the fig tree withered.
Comparing gospels, we find that the disciples heard the rebuke but did not notice that the tree had completely withered from the roots up until they passed it the next day.
Jesus then arrived at the city and entered the Temple. He cast out those who were buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He would not allow any man to carry a vessel through the Temple. And He said:
And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13 And He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robbers' den."
The gospels are not always in chronological order. Mark’s Gospel has this happening after the fig tree.
For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples."
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, 2 "Stand in the gate of the Lord's house and proclaim there this word, and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the Lord!'"
"Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," declares the Lord.
Jesus stands in the same spot and says exactly what the prophet Jeremiah did about 600 years prior. He had done this at the beginning of His ministry as a warning. Now that He entered the city as its King, He had to bring judgment upon the practices within the Temple, which was His Temple.
The Temple represented heaven, and they had filled it with filthy beasts and tables of financial profit.
The chief priests and scribes hear what He did and what He says, and they sought out how they may destroy Jesus because they feared Him, but they could not find a way at the time because the multitude were listening to Him and were astonished at His teaching, Luk 19:48.
Only John records the next event on our list. Afterwards some Greeks seek to meet Jesus. This puzzles the disciples. In speaking to them, Jesus is led to speak of life and death in terms of sacrifice. The speech and the time lead Him to deep agitation within, from which He cries out, “Father, glorify Your name.” The Father responds from heaven, and Jesus reveals that the voice was for the sake of the people gathered there. He then tells them that the Son of Man must be lifted up, to which they ask, “Who is the Son of Man?” John reveals that they were not believing in Him.
Tuesday: A day packed with events and teaching.
Barren fig tree found.
Peter and the disciples point out the tree in a rather surprised fashion. Jesus responds in a “why are you amazed,” fashion.
And seeing this, the disciples marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' [common Hebrew expression for doing the impossible or incredible] it shall happen. 22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.”
The child of God has to have faith (do the incredible) and he has to be like God (forgiving).
A far cry from this attempt at prayer from James and John:
"Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"
Then we find Jesus in the court of the Temple. This back and forth with the chief priests, scribes, and elders is a key to the whole week.
Jesus walking in the Temple, confronted by the priests, scribes, and elders.
They ask Him, in light of the last two days (Triumphal Entry and the cleansing of the Temple, and His daily teaching in the Temple):
And when He had come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, "By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?"
A man who taught with authority about truth and God was to be ordained. He not only taught, but cleared out the Temple. Prior, they had already determined that He did what He did by the power of Satan.
Jesus’ response is:
And Jesus answered and said to them, "I will ask you one thing too, which if you tell Me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 "The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?"
It was very common to ask rabbis tough questions. Yet Jesus’ question paralyzes the Jewish leaders.
And they began reasoning among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say to us, 'Then why did you not believe him?' 26 "But if we say, 'From men,' we fear the multitude; for they all hold John to be a prophet." 27 And answering Jesus, they said, "We do not know." He also said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
We might analyze any number of things that Jesus was pointing out to them with this question, and one of them was the fact that they didn’t have all the answers as they projected to, and more importantly, if God sent John then God sent Jesus whom John testified of as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Tuesday: Jesus then drives His argument home with three parables:
1) The Parable of the Sons
2) The Parable of the Husbandmen
3) The Parable of the Marriage Feast of the King’s Son
These parables are tied to the entire week. Remember Monday, the fig tree was supposed to have fruit but didn’t. The Temple was supposed to represent heaven, but they had filled it with greed.
Remember Tuesday: the disciples see the tree withered and marvel. With faith, says Jesus, believing in God’s salvation plan, you can do anything good. Jesus walking and teaching in the Temple is suddenly confronted with a blusterous, “By whose authority do you do these things?”
Jesus then asks them, “Was John’s baptism from heaven or from men?” In other words, did God send John to tell you all to repent and prepare for the kingdom of God was at hand, or did John alone or with some other people come up with that ministry? And yet still, their answer was based upon the fear of the people. Why? If they lose their popularity, they lose all the earthly swag that they hold dear, and that’s all they really want. So much of this comes down to the love of money (sellers and money changers in the Temple, should we pay tribute to Caesar, vineyard workers want to own the vineyard, the widow’s two mites in contrast to surplus of the rich).
Remember the parables:
Sons – do God’s will, don’t just say you’re going to.
Husbandmen – kill the son and the inheritance will be ours.
Marriage Feast – accept God’s invitation, and do so His way.
They want so badly to arrest Him and kill Him, but they can’t yet find a way. Enter the Pharisees. They ask their best and brightest to come up with a plan to catch Jesus in His own words. They can find no sin in Him or flaw, so they smartly concoct a plan to get Him to say something unpopular.
Tuesday: Ensnare Jesus with question of tribute to Caesar.
Then the Pharisees went and counseled together how they might trap Him in what He said. 16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying,
First, they flatter Him and set the trap – “You don’t defer to anyone” = Whatever you say is ‘all You.’
“Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.”
By not responding, Jesus agrees. They are sure that they have Him.
"Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?" 18 But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, "Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? 19 "Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax." And they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" 21 They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." 22 And hearing this, they marveled, and leaving Him, they went away.
This is where we will pause and learn a valuable lesson that the Lord tried to convey to Israel.
Time fails us to be able to cover the rest of that day:
Sadducees ask puzzling question about resurrection.
Pharisaic lawyer asks what is the greatest command.
Last public discourse – solid denouncing of scribes and Pharisees.
On the Mount of Olives (Olivet Discourse)
And that doesn’t include Tuesday night back at Bethany where He predicts His crucifixion to come in two days, Mary anointing Him with perfume, and Judas heading off to make a deal with the chief priests.
And all of it is connected in many ways, which we shouldn’t be surprised to discover, and we should be filled with wonder as we look for all the connections.
I want to just return to the question put to Him about paying tribute to Caesar.
The right of coinage implies the authority of levying taxes. Does that mean that the government is your Lord and Master?
Jesus’ response is amazing and clear, and it applies greatly to our lives before God on this earth, being strangers and pilgrims in this world, seated with Christ in the heavenlies and citizens of heaven.
And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" 21 They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."
The things that go to God do not go to Caesar.
Parables: the son won’t go to the field; the husbandmen won’t give the produce to the rightful owner; the guest won’t go to the feast.
The father asks the son to go. He says that he will, but he doesn’t. The work of God’s fields belongs to God alone. We are to do what we do as unto the Lord, and not unto men. Unto men is unto Caesar. We are not to be loving and faithful and patient and kind and good and gentle and righteous and just because rulers tell us to or that any man tells us to. We serve in our lives unto our Lord and Him alone. Jesus and the NT tells us that we have lost all of our earthly rights and we only have rights before Him. If we are treated unfairly, we defer to the Lord and Him only. We lose our lives so that we may find it.
The workers in the vineyard would not hand over the product to the rightful owner, and when the son was sent, whom the owner was sure they would respect, they killed him thinking that they would become the rightful heirs of the vineyard. The fruit of God’s field is for God alone. He alone chooses what the fruit will be in each of our lives and how it will be used. We are not to pursue worldly things with God’s fruit. A man may want a lot of recognition for his service in the name of Christianity, but that is not for him to decide. Another may think other worldly blessings, like wealth and good health and a fine station in life is due him because he seeks to worship God. God’s things are rendered to God alone.
The invited guests would not go to the wedding feast, and the one that did go, wouldn’t wear the proper clothes, meaning he wanted in but in another way than the King designed. The man was bound hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness.
The things that go to Caesar don’t go to God.
Selling and exchanging in the Temple.
Where do the rules of trade and markets lie? With the governments. They have no bearing on the life of the child of God. The child of God is to be gracious and lend no matter what his station in life, rich or poor, in a capitalistic market or a communist one. The Bible does not condemn being rich. The rich are instructed not to put their hope in riches, and not to be conceited, but gracious. The last event of this day is the widow casting two mites into the Temple treasury, and Jesus told us that she gave more than all the others who gave from their surplus.
Those who gave from their surplus desired to impress others by their financial prowess, which is something for the kingdoms of the world and not for God, or their thinking was that they would earn favor with God. You can earn the favor of Caesar with gifts, but not God.
Jesus continues to speak of the impending judgment that is coming upon Jerusalem due to His public announcement of Himself on Sunday. He cleansed the Temple on Monday and reached out to the people in the city all day Tuesday. He couldn’t have said it clearer or better.
God sent John and God sent Him, who John had spoken of. He was the rightful King and He demanded fruit from His nation, yet He found none.
He asked about John’s baptism. If it was from God then Jesus was from God and He was the Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world, meaning all Jesus said was true, meaning He was God in the flesh, and they must believe in Him as John said. John also said that the kingdom of God was at hand, and this Man that John testified of, rode into the city on a donkey, owning the claim as King, endowed with miracles and truth, and He continued to teach and perform miracles in the Temple on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Yet, many would not believe, and certainly, the leadership would not. So He taught in parables, condemning them and also continuing to invite them to come to His banquet. He spoke of one of them as being close to the kingdom for he, and it seems he alone, answered well. His last public teaching, near the end of the afternoon, after an incredibly long day, was to pronounce woes against the scribes and Pharisees.