Sunday and Monday of Holy Week
Sunday and Monday
It’s interesting that just as we’re entering into the final week of Jesus’ life in our study of the Gospel of John — we’ve also entered our yearly celebration of Holy Week.
Yesterday, was of course Palm Sunday or the day we also call Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. And so today, obviously, is Monday.
Yesterday, the crowds cheered His presence during this the most celebrated and holiest of weeks in Israel.
And yet, yesterday evening, Jesus wept over Jerusalem and Israel’s rejection of Him and the holy city’s coming destruction because of it.
A sharp contrast indeed. While much is often made of the fact that the crowd who cheered Him at the beginning of the week may not be the same crowd that shouts for His crucifixion at the end of the week — it is still true that many of those who cheered Him were still among the number that experienced God’s judgment — at the very least, they witnessed it from the hills.
Amazingly, on the very day (10th of Nisan) that Israel would select a lamb to sacrifice for Passover, Jesus, the Lamb of God, rode into the city to die as the sacrifice for all that would believe.
Whether we pay attention to the crowd that cheers Jesus or the crowd that cries for His death or the one that would watch their city burn just 40 years later, few understood the meaning of that week.
It reminds us how people from all eras have misunderstood Jesus and the reason for which He was sent.
I pray that more and more would learn those lessons — even as many gather to celebrate this week. May more and more understand that Jesus came to die for our sins (I Peter 2:24-25) — and to be raised again for our justification (Romans 4:25)! And may we have our focus sharpened as well.
But this is Monday.
On Monday, Jesus begins to explain just how truly misunderstanding people were about God, His worship and what the consequences were for such a misunderstanding.
A thoughtful, chronological explanation of what happens on each day, tells us that Jesus began Monday morning with great symbolism.
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.
13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
14 And he said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.
Following Palm Sunday, Jesus and His disciples came to Jerusalem again from Bethany.
And “He was hungry” is pretty straightforward. He was hungry. Its not a large point, but it is worth noting as it helps deepen our understanding of the Incarnation. In Jesus, God did become Man ... fully Man. The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe was hungry and needed to borrow food.
But then the strange scene appears — Jesus sees a fig tree and curses it because it bore no fruit.
To someone who may not be familiar with Hebrew symbolism, it may appear that Jesus is acting as a petulant child throwing a fit over a broken toy.
But that of course is not the case. Jesus is not exhibiting petulance but sovereign justice and He is instructing us still today.
The key is to know that the fig tree was often used as a symbol of Israel’s prosperity or lack of it (Jeremiah 8:13, Habakkuk 3:17). It was that lack of fruit being produced by the nation of Israel that angered Jesus — not the lack of fruit on a tree.
One lesson we can glean from this is that Israel will be judged for her fruitless-ness. That, of course, ties in with the tears Jesus wept and why He shed them over Jerusalem.
Its a remarkable event.
As Paul says in Romans 9:4-5, Israel was graciously given the “adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
And yet, they produced no fruit and more to the point, they rejected their only means of producing fruit, Jesus Christ.
We, of course, can learn from this and that lesson is further taught in the next scene.
Jesus and His disciples go to the temple.
15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.
16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.
17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, "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."
18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
19 And when evening came they went out of the city.
Outwardly much like the fig tree with its leaves (Mark 11:13), the temple looked “fruitful”. But upon entering, Jesus exposed just how similar the temple and fig tree truly were.
Inside the fruitful appearance of the temple, He found corruption. Money changers and salesman alike found in the temple a convenient place to do their business and they took advantage of it. Despite the temple’s purpose to be a meeting place of man with God, the worship of God and a place of prayer, Israel had turned it into a place for selfish enterprise.
And so with a great display of anger, Jesus reveals God’s displeasure with those who mistreat His glory and His grace, turning over tables and driving them out.
What was the fruit that Jesus was looking for and didn’t find?
Mark 11:20-26 tells us that that fruit is faith.
Israel failed under the Old Covenant to look forward in faith to Jesus through the types and shadows they were given and so they failed to see Jesus as their fulfillment when He came.
Such unfaithfulness made this final week of Jesus’ earthly life all the more profound.
Because of Israel’s failures, the kingdom would be taken from them and given to the nations who would bear its fruit (Matthew 21:43) and through faith in Jesus, the church would become the new Temple, where God meets with His people (Ephesians 2:21-22).
What else might we learn from Monday of Jesus’ final week?
1. Weep for and pray for those who have not looked to Jesus in faith.
2. Outward displays of religion, such as church membership and baptism are not enough. We must have faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
3. Church is not a business, it is a place of prayer and worship.
4. Who Jesus is and what He has done for us as the Lamb of God must be our focus this week and every week.
11/16/2022 03:20:29 pm
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