This Tuesday, a Traitor is Among UsPosted: March 18, 2008
This is the Passion week account of Jesus’ day on this Tuesday. I took the liberty to add my own literary interpretations. I hope we are all focused on Jesus, as we celebrate the most pivotal week in human history.
It was another restful night for Jesus, but not for His critics, who were restlessly plotting His death. In the morning, Jesus prayed again to His Father, “Hallowed be Your name,” as He would regularly do. Then with His disciples He entered Jerusalem once more, but this time the crowds were no longer gathered in raucous money changing, but anxiously awaiting this Teacher’s arrival. Most weren’t at the Temple the day before when Jesus had overturned the tables, but by word of mouth, they all turned out, because news had spread quickly as it had done in almost every city He’d been to.
“That’s Him! That’s Jesus of Nazareth! He speaks words I’ve never heard before. His speech is full of passion and love. You’ve got to stay and listen!” says the man to his neighbor. “I’ve heard His name. Is it true what they say of Him? Is He the spirit of Elijah?” the neighbor asks. With excitement the man says, “Let’s ask Him!” As these two make their way through the gathering crowds, they get behind Jesus and look for an opportune moment to jump in and query. It seemed as though He’s already in some discussion with a Teacher of the Law. The subject at hand is unknown, but from their vantage point the Scribe doesn’t seem to be pleased with Jesus’ answers. Then He spins to speak to the crowds behind Him telling truths in story, “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it…” But as soon as He finished, another Pharisee jumps in to question Him. “Why do they have so many questions? Why won’t they let us speak for a change!” said the man again to his neighbor. Little did they know, this was all a part of His critic’s schemes. They wanted to trip up Jesus in a barrage of questions, hoping that He’ll slip and condemn himself. Then one of the Scribes inserts, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” But Jesus, not succumbing to argumentation and debate, answers each challenge with grace, and in this case reciting two Old Testament commandments to love God and to love others. And in quiet retort, ending all discussion, He rebukes the Scribe saying, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Leaving the back and forth with the Teachers of the Law, Jesus turns His attention now to the large crowd that’s amassed in the outer courts of the Temple. He continues to teach the crowds and warn them of the dangers of self-righteousness throughout the afternoon. Nearing dusk, the marketplace was closing down and the merchants taking their day’s wages were heading to the Temple to give their offering. Jesus, sitting at some distance with His disciples and a few children, were looking on as the people passed by the offering boxes in front of the Temple. Some were dropping in what seemed to be large sums of money, vigorously shaking their purses making a scene of their gifts. But amidst the bustle of the crowds heading home for the day, Jesus spotted a small elderly woman, weaving her way through the taller gentlemen crowding the offering boxes. With His eyes fixed on this woman, the disciples quickly take notice of her as well. Reaching into her dress, she pulls out two paper-thin coins and pause a moment as she holds them tightly between her two weathered hands. Muttering a prayer under the noise of the crowds, she opens her hands and drops her coins in the box. They seem to float down and gently land, hardly making a sound as they settle at the top of the pile. Astounded by her willingness to give, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
It was beginning to get dark on this Tuesday night, and the disciples were a bit confused, about what Jesus had just said, but thought nothing of it as they proceeded to head up the mountains to Bethany where they stayed. Nervously rummaging through his pockets Judas said to the rest of them, “I must’ve left something behind in the Temple. You guys go ahead, I’ll find my way alone.” Running back towards the temple courts, Judas slid his way to the rear, where Caiphus and the other Chief Priests and Scribes were gathered. “How are we to kill this man?” asked one Teacher. Coldly Caiphus interjects, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.” Fully understanding how popular Jesus had become, He wanted this man to be killed without a rebellion from the people. How was he going to accomplish this? Well, the first step was to get one of Jesus’ own to join in on the plot.
As Judas was making his way to the back room, his heart was beating faster than his feet could move. Stopped abruptly in his tracks, he wipes the sweat from his palms on the back of his cloak. Breathing one calming breath, he steps into the back room where the Chief Priests and Scribes were standing over a table. The room became hush as every head turned toward the entrance. There stood the first piece of the puzzle. Caiphus had bought the allegiance of one of Jesus’ own disciples for 30 shekels. Judas didn’t move another step; he couldn’t. All he could do was stand as still as possible in order to hide that his legs were shaking furiously. Caiphus with a sinister grin, took the prepared sack of coins and handed them to the traitor. No words were exchanged. Both parties knew exactly what was expected of them. Judas, eying the coins in his hands, quick fell out of the trance and scurried out of the room. Now the hard part; how was he going to betray his master?
Matthew 21:23-36, 24, 26:14-16, Mark 11:27-14:11, Luke 20:1-22:6