Reading

  • Matt. 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-33
  • Matt. 21:28-32
  • Mark 12:1-9; Luke 20:9-16
  • Matt. 21:42-46
  • Matt. 22:1-22; Luke 20:20-26
  • Matt. 22:23-33
  • Mark 12:28-34
  • Matt. 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37
  • Matt. 23:1-39
  • Mark 12:41-44

Devotional

On Tuesday of the week before Jesus' crucifixion, Jesus and the apostles journeyed from Bethany to Jerusalem. They passed the fig tree Jesus had cursed the previous day, and it was withered and dead. Peter pointed out how quickly the tree had died and Jesus told them that if they had faith and didn't doubt, they could command a mountain to be moved into the sea and it would happen. He told them to remember, when they pray, to forgive anyone who had sinned against them so that GOD would forgive their sins.

When Jesus made it to the temple courts, as He was walking around, the chief priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the Law approached Him with a number of questions. They were trying to catch Jesus in something He would say so that they could arrest Him there. First, they asked Jesus by what authority He did the things He had been doing (which were all good deeds, by the way, such as healing and casting out demons). Jesus challenged them with a question as well, regarding the baptism of John, whether it was from heaven or men. Though they knew the answer, the Pharisees wouldn't say because they had refused to submit to it and because they feared the people, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.

Jesus then taught a series of parables to illustrate the nature of the kingdom of heaven and to show the crowd that the religious leaders would die outside the kingdom, unless they repented. Later on, the Pharisees sent some to test Jesus by asking whether they should pay taxes. Jesus replied that people should pay taxes, because it was Caesar's face is on the coin. He added that we should give GOD what is His.

Next, the Sadducees (who didn't believe in the resurrection), tried to trap Jesus by asking a question regarding marriage after the resurrection. Jesus told them that people do not marry after they are resurrected, but He reminded them that GOD does not say that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but that He is the God of those men, thus proving that the resurrection is true. Then one of the teachers of the Law asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest. Jesus answered that the most important is to love GOD with all your heart, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is the second most important.

Having answered all of these questions and met their challenges, Jesus launched into a tirade attacking the character and hypocrisy of the religious leaders, especially the Pharisees. Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees taught people to do all these things and follow the commands, but they themselves wouldn't lift a single finger to help. They didn't practice what they preached. They loved the praise and attention of men. They prevented people from entering the kingdom of heaven, searching far and wide to win a soul and then making them twice as much a son of hell as they themselves.

They were very detailed to follow exactly the small matters of the Law, such as tithing exactly the right amount of their small spices, but at the same time didn't pay attention to the more important commands, such as justice, mercy and faithfulness. They built tombs to honor the fallen prophets that their forefathers killed while at the same time mistreating the Son of GOD who was among them, as well as those that Jesus would send in His name later on.

Having said these things, Jesus lamented over the city of Jerusalem once more, because of her unwillingness to accept those sent to her by GOD. Then Jesus sat down across from the place where people would come and place their offerings for the temple treasury. A lot of rich people put in large sums of money, and a poor widow came and put in two small coins worth very little. Jesus called His disciples to Himself and pointed out that the widow had given more than all the others, because she had given everything she had.

Truly this must have been a long and tiresome morning for Jesus, as He faced continuous opposition from the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus' direct attacks on the religious leaders have done nothing to change their minds regarding Jesus, but there are a lot of other people watching. All of this is part of GOD's plan, as Jesus will soon be given over to these men because of their envy and they will offer the Lamb of GOD who will take away the sins of the world, as it has been prophesied for hundreds of years.

Tim Harris
Author: Tim Harris

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