Not Your Normal MondayPosted: March 17, 2008
I hope to highlight each day of Passion Week with an account of Jesus’ happenings according to Scripture, but dressed in my own interpretations…
On any Monday of the year, you’d find fishermen setting their boats ashore early before the sun rises while the rest of the town is calm under a blanket of sleep. But this wasn’t just any normal Monday. It was the Monday after Palm Sunday, after the triumphal entry of a man named Jesus into Jerusalem. The Jewish crowds had gathered in record amounts to “salute the king” with “Hallelujahs” & “Hosannas”. But this morning it was eerily silent in this small town. No noise of the crowds just yet, just the fisherman and the early signs of the merchants setting up in the markets. Jesus was awake though in a small town outside of Jerusalem, called Bethany. He had come riding in on a colt like a King only a day before, but last night He slept like a servant. Seems strange, but He was accustomed to it. Jesus began His day praying in earnest to His Father asking for the forgiveness of His people’s debts. As the disciples began to awake, Jesus roused the lazier ones to get up. Their first full day in Jerusalem; What were they going to do? The answer was simple, they were going to worship at the Temple.
As Jesus and His disciples set out to the center of Jerusalem, they passed by a fig tree. Feeling the bite of morning hunger, Jesus looked to see if there was fruit on the tree, but He found none. “May no one ever eat fruit from you again,” He pronounced. The tree sadly cowered in its bare branches, realizing that its Creator had just cursed its existence. It wasn’t as much a curse on the tree to never bear fruit again, but more so a curse on the Jewish state. Often referred to by the prophets of old as the fig tree, He was pointing out that Israel was like this tree; having the appearance and form of a tree, but not producing the fruit. It was safe to say that He was very disheartened by its sight.
Continuing on into Jerusalem, it was nearing mid day, the noise of the crowds became louder. With each step toward the temple, they could see that there was an immense activity in front of the Temple. Crowds had gathered, merchants were shouting, money changers were pronouncing currency rates, and the children were simply being children. It was far from a solemn assembly gathered in front of the Temple. Now standing in the outer courts, Jesus was astounded. He had stood here the night before, but the night had gathered significantly subdued crowds. This morning’s scene was totally different and nothing seemed right. The gentiles were distracted by the loud money changers, the children were quieted in their worship, and the Temple was being used more as a marketplace than a house of worship. He was becoming indignant & furious at the state of God’s Temple. How could His people smear the sacredness of His Father’s house? With His disciples close behind Him, Jesus ran from table to table desperately turning them over. The noise in the crowds had quickly come to a low hum, with the only noise filling the air coming from the coins bouncing on the ground and coming to a spinning halt. It was now dead silent. Jesus, catching his breath and standing erect in the middle of the outer courts, proclaimed, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers!”
All stood still in the Temple in that moment. It was almost as if the wind took a moment to hold its breath. The people were astounded, their ears perked at attention. None could believe what they had just witnessed, nor could they fully comprehend all that He had just said. While all stood frozen in amazement, the blind and lame spent no time to take advantage of this kairos moment. They humbly drew near to Him in hopes that He would touch them and pronounce healing as He was known to do in the hillsides. The children were second to break the silence, proclaiming the praises of just a day ago shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” But the critics, the chief priests and the scribes, were quietly scheming in their minds a way to silence this radical teacher. For them, this was just another grounds for their accusations. And while this man Jesus was in the city, they had to move quickly in order to strike.
The crowd, the merchants, the children, the Jews, and even the gentiles gathered to Jesus as he taught all afternoon. But spying behind the crowds were the pharisees and scribes, carefully plotting their next days. It was coming upon night soon, so Jesus and His disciples had to hurry in order to make it back to Bethany before dark. Walking away from the city with his back toward Jerusalem, the Jewish Scribes were scribbling their murderous schemes, furious that this simple Galilean’s words were holding more weight than theirs in their own backyard.
Matthew 21:1-22, Mark 11:1-19, Luke 19:28-48