What a delight to see the happy faces of the people as they waved their palms and shouted their praises while Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem.
But here and there I saw stern Temple guards watching every move or clusters of black-clad Pharisees looking down their noses with disdain at the crowd.
Jesus proceeded into the Temple area where the money changers sat at their tables exchanging coins for Temple money. It was the only way the Passover pilgrims could purchase their unblemished lambs. Everybody knew it was a money-maker for the Temple, but what else could they do?
Unbelievably, Jesus marched into the area and began overturning the tables—coins rolled everywhere, pigeons flew from their coops, even lambs were beginning to escape from the pens. Jesus spoke out over the noise and confusion.
“It is written, ‘my house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’ ” Matthew 21:13
What He said was absolutely true, but must He be so bold? It was as though He urged them on to have their way with Him.
Later, I took comfort in the strength of the crowds and the admiration on their faces as He healed the blind and lame.
The next day, the Pharisees were out and ready to shatter His influence by bombarding Him with questions. At every turn, He befuddled them with His questions or His answers.
By mid-week, he lit in to the religious leaders with such aggressiveness that I thought sure they would arrest Him on the spot.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you Hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you. You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but on the inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23;13, 25
On and on He went, one woe after another, enumerating specific character failures and evil deeds. I thought the religious leaders were going to explode. We left before they could figure out what to do with Jesus, but we were soon to learn the wrath that they felt for Him.
Two days later, we gathered in the upper room for our Passover meal. Jesus gave us a real life demonstration of humility by washing our feet.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:14
I understood the living parable. Think and act in humility. Encourage and care for one another. For me, it also meant, “don’t depend on the strength of an adoring crowd.”
He continued to teach us with what felt like last thoughts. He prayed for us and reminded us again that crucifixion was near.
With heavy hearts, we followed Him in the dark to Gethsemane, the garden where we often went to pray. He went deeper into the garden alone. I could hear Him crying out in agony as He prayed, but I couldn’t quite make out His words.
I drifted off to sleep but was awakened by voices and the clank of spears. What was happening?
~ Joyce ~