Yesterday, I talked about Jesus' crowd on the road, and mine. But I didn't really talk about his entrance into Jerusalem, which was staged to fulfill prophecy. Jesus intentionally entered Jerusalem the way a king was supposed to, according to prophecy. He also intentionally did it on the exact day prophesied by Daniel 490 years earlier. With this act, he was proclaiming himself Messiah and king of Israel publicly, which is what accelerated his execution.
That was his Sunday. How was your Sunday?
Actually, Mark's gospel also records that Jesus and his disciples spent Sunday night in Bethany, (Mark 11:11) which means that they stayed at the homes of their dear friends and supporters, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. That's right, the former dead guy. Jesus' crowd was with him on the road, but he spent the night with family.
The gospels record three things Jesus did the next day, Monday.
On his way into Jerusalem from Bethany, which was basically a suburb of Jerusalem, he apparently cursed a fig tree for having no fruit. Mark's gospel tells us about that. You can see my Bible Blog commentary on that passage here. I'm not going to try to explain the reasons Jesus did this here. Everything about it had great significance and symbolism for the Jews of his day. It was an illustration about hypocrisy, having the appearance of fruit with no fruit.
Jesus did this on his way to the Temple, with the Twelve in tow. When they got to the Temple, that's when you-know-what hit the fan. He saw the crooked merchants cheating pilgrims, and it made him angry that this had been done to God's house. So he drove them out with a whip! But it wasn't a tantrum. John says he wove his own whip, which means he took time and thought about it first. (John 2:15)
This is the only event of this week that I have Bible Blog posts for in all four gospels, because John places this event early in Jesus' ministry, where the other three all place it late. Again, I'm not going to try to explain why that might be in this blog. I do that in my post on this passage in John, which you can find here. See my post on Matthew’s version of this event here, Luke’s version here, and Mark’s here.
Then Matthew implies that Jesus, right after driving out the crooks with a whip, went on to spend the rest of his day healing people in the Temple courts! Matthew doesn't exactly say that Jesus did this right afterward, so it may have been later in the week. But it's a better story if it was Monday. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Jesus did teach in the Temple courts every day that week until Thursday, the night of his arrest. The Temple was a huge complex, so it's not all that unlikely that Jesus went straight from kicking butt and taking names in one part of the Temple to teaching in another. But whenever it happened, what happened there was pretty cool.
While Jesus was healing the blind and the lame, according to Matthew, children with them kept shouting, "Hosanna to the son of David!" All. Day. Long. I imagine that this got annoying, even to the disciples. They were probably the disciples' kids. But the religious leaders really hated it. Not for the reasons you or I might wish people would quiet their noisy kids, but because the kids were calling Jesus the Messiah in the Temple courts, and Jesus was letting them do it.
Jesus' response was classic. He basically asked these experts on scripture if they'd ever read their Bibles. If they had they'd know that this meant they were talking to the Messiah. Prophecy predicted that kids would do this.
Jesus continued to poke the religious leaders in the eye in the Temple courts for the rest of the week, which I'm sure only made things worse for him when they finally got their mitts on him. But he was doing what he had to do. It was his mission, and he would not shrink from it. It was the only way to save us.
I spent my Monday morning writing and recording a song parody about chocolate bunnies. Not much of a comparison, is it? But that's not the point. I'm trying to find parallels with my journey, not my week. And instead of parallels, I think I should be looking for lessons.
The first incident of Jesus' Monday, cursing the fig tree, reminds me of things I've done and said since this started that I'm not proud of. Hurtful things I've said to my most loved ones out of emotion, or frustration, or fear, or just downright selfishness. Jesus cursed the fig tree to make a point, not out of anger, and he didn't blame what he did on hormone treatment. I've got to do better.
I can relate to Jesus' anger at the crooked practices in the Temple. It makes me angry when Christians give Christians a bad name, and these thieves were giving Judaism a very bad name. Jesus was the perfect observant Jew, who loved being at the Temple. He went there whenever he could, even staying behind at age 12 after his parents left! (Luke 2:41-52, blog)
Even though Jesus did not react out of emotion in either of these cases, I can't help seeing examples of how I need to handle my anger here. Jesus wove his own whip before he drove out the crooked merchants. I need to learn to take a breath myself, as long as circumstances, within and without, keep breaking down my filters.
I submit that that's the wrong question. In my opinion, the right question to ask about any passage in the Bible is, "What is this passage trying to teach me?" Not, "Did David really have that many chariots?" or "Did Methuselah really live over 900 years?" Those things are irrelevant to our lives. What Jesus did during this week of his life has everything to do with us. He did it for us. So even if the gospels say Jesus had fish for lunch, I want to know what he's trying to teach me by that. Jesus is my teacher.
My favorite lesson from Jesus' Monday is from the last story, where the kids wouldn't stop shouting Hosanna and calling him the son of David.
As I said earlier, I believe that these kids were the disciples' kids. We know for sure that Peter had kids. Jesus stayed in Peter's home for most of his ministry, and I'm sure developed a relationship with Peter's kids. My favorite example of what I believe to be a case of this is found in Matthew 18:1-4. If you'd like to read my Bible blog post on that passage, I think you'll find it meaningful if you're a believer. I actually think it's quite beautiful, if I do say so myself.
So I think that the kids who were chanting this nonstop while Jesus healed the sick were kids who knew and loved Jesus personally. I believe he lived in the same house as some of them. And they were the ones who still, the next day, kept praising him when all others had stopped.
What does this have to do with me? If I'm trying to identify with Jesus, I feel that, like these kids did with Jesus, my inner circle, my most loved ones who know me and love me best, are the ones who are cheering me on the hardest. That's about the only way I can put myself in Jesus' place here. It's becoming more and more uncomfortable for me to do that, and it's only Monday.
Instead, I see myself as one of the kids. While I've been a believer for most, if not all of my life, recently, I feel like I've moved into the same house as Jesus. He knocked on the door of my heart many years ago, and I let him in. (Revelation 3:20) But I never moved into his house, or at least not for very long, until recently. For the past few months, while we've been walking this road together which some of you just joined, it's been more like he and I are roommates. Like Jesus did with one of Peter's kids in that passage from Matthew, I want him to sit me on his lap and teach me. And he is. I just have to listen.
Like Jesus, I also have a mission, and I will not shrink from it. That mission is to become as much like him as I can, and learn to trust him like a little child trusts their parents. It's to keep praising him when all others have stopped.