It’s Tuesday of Holy Week and Jesus has a very busy day. These few verses above are just the beginning of the day. Once again, Jesus and the disciples are walking from Bethany back to Jerusalem where Peter notices the cursed fig tree from yesterday morning is now dead to its roots. This remains symbolic of the destruction of the Temple. Remember that the destruction of the Temple is not an indictment of Judaism or ritual, but because the beloved Temple has become a den of robbers – used as a safe haven for those who believe right worship is a substitute for right justice.
Jesus and company head again for Jerusalem, back to the outer courtyard of the Temple. This area is packed with Passover pilgrims and Jesus has staked it out as his teaching/preaching/debating street corner. This day, as told in Mark, is the longest recorded day of Holy Week. It takes almost three chapters, 11:27 – 13:37. Most of the day consists of conflict with temple authorities. The rest of the time Jesus speaks of the destruction of the Jerusalem and the temple, and of the coming of the Son of Man.
During this week, remember, the two passions of Jesus will collide: his first passion in ministry and mission around the Kingdom of God and God’s justice for all people, and his second passion, or suffering, at the hands of Pilate because of his first passion.
On this Tuesday, Jesus debates brilliantly with the religious authorities. They demand to know by what authority he does “these things.” They may be referring to his recent demonstrations of the peasants’ palm parade into Jerusalem on Sunday and the outburst at the temple business office yesterday.
The most well-known story from this Tuesday is the famous Jesus come-back when asked about taxes: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Taxes were a source of political and religious conflict in Jesus’ day. But Jesus’ teaching to give back to God the things that are God’s is a political and religious challenge since the Jews believe (as do Christians) that everything belongs to God.
After a heavy teaching and debating day, Jesus and the disciples leave the Temple and walk back to Bethany before it gets dark. Jesus’ first passion has now solidified the resolve of the chief priests and the scribes to make sure Jesus experiences a different kind of passion. It is getting dark. At the end of Tuesday Jesus concludes with the words, “And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake!” The real vigil is about to begin.
Prayer for Holy Tuesday
Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you. Grant that our hearts may not grow cold in your service, and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.