This is a week filled with more drama and revelation than any other in the history of the world. Each of the four Gospels make that clear as they tell the story of the final days of Jesus’ life before the Resurrection.
It is not surprising the four Gospels all represent these final days differently. They share many of the same events. Each has included moments others did not record. (for example Matthew and Mark tell the story of Jesus cursing a fig tree Matthew 22: 18-22 and Mark 11: 12-14,20-26. and Luke or John do not include it). In a few places, teachings of Jesus some of the Gospels recorded earlier in his ministry are woven into the Passion week narrative of others. The Gospel of John includes long sections unique to itself. (much of John 13,14 and 15).
That being said, there have been several attempts to put together a chronological of Holy Week. This week, I invite us to spend a few moments each day considering what Jesus did that was necessary on this Holy Week. Join with me in letting the our week be guided by the witness and sacrifice of Jesus. It matters. It matters more than anything else ever could.
It is Monday. Yesterday, Jesus entered into Jerusalem. It was a glorious day. The crowds were excited and their celebration energized the disciples and scared the Pharisees. Last night, after that amazing day the disciples and Jesus returned to the suburb of Jerusalem called Bethany. Today, they follow Jesus back into the city with excitement as to what might happen.
Jesus goes to the Temple as he often did. He had been going there since he was a young boy. He knew his way around it. It was the spiritual center of his faith. We are not told what is motivation was to go there today. Was he going to worship? Did he intend to teach? Or was he going to put front and center the contrast between the Kingdom of God he was going to establish and the status quo of how religion was practiced in the world?
He went into the temple. “Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; 46 and he said, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer’;but you have made it a den of robbers.” Luke 19:45-46. The selling tables had been there for a long time. Some of them sold items necessary for worship in the temple. They had become part of the faith status quo. Another layer of what was after generations necessary for faithfulness. But you know how that goes. Over time, what was once a simple thing now has rules and expectations attached to it. What was once a way of helping people now concerned itself with profit. For some, now the primary concern of activity in the temple shifted from the sanctuary to the selling booths. What began as a offering to help now became a way to set unfair costs to fleece the population as much as possible for the benefit of those who were forgetting their primary responsibility to God.
Jesus overturned the tables and created holy chaos because he could not longer allow practices that violated the spirit of worship. His accusation of the sellers being robbers was because they exhorted people by their unfair prices. But they were also robbing the temple of holiness. They were putting their interest over those of others and even the desire of God.
So many are shocked by Jesus being so aggressive. We think Jesus was out of character when he began Holy Week in this manner. Usually, it is when I am living comfortable in my personal life and insulated from the pain of the world when I am surprised that for faithfulness to occur chaos needs to occur.
When you are the powerless, you know something that shakes the world is necessary to allow the Kingdom of God to be real. Addiction and abuse are examples when God’s grace has to blow up status quo for health to occur. Injustice in the world may require revolutionary acts to restore holiness in the land. When the power of the Holy Spirit moves in lives, it may feel like the world is being turned upside down. Birth rarely comes without some trauma.
Jesus did what was necessary on Monday to call for a new day of faithfulness. It set the course for the rest of the week. It places a challenge to us all.
What do you need to let Christ shake up in your life to allow the Kingdom of God to be where you live?