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Monday of Holy Week: Devotion

MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK

Jesus and his disciples have stayed overnight at Bethany, and leave in the morning to go to Jerusalem, a couple of miles away. The fig tree they come upon has leaves, which means it should also have the first crop of fruit that grows from the previous year’s shoots.  But it doesn’t.  It cannot provide breakfast for Jesus and the disciples. Jesus curses the fig tree for its lack of fruit.  That tree symbolizes the spiritual fruitlessness of the people in Jerusalem.  God has sent them prophets and they have rejected and killed them.  God has sent them his Son and they will reject and kill him. The people of Jerusalem have brought God’s judgment on themselves.  But Jesus will continue to Jerusalem and let God’s judgment for their rebellion fall on him as he suffers and dies on the cross on Good Friday. 

Jesus and his disciples arrive at the temple and here is what happens:

(Matthew 21:12-17) Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.'” 14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” 17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Jesus makes it clear that the temple is really his and all about him.  His actions show he has the authority to say how things should be done. He is the object of praise at the temple, as he receives praise from the children there.  He is the source of blessing, as the blind and lame find healing from him there.

The church is still to be all about Jesus today.  His word is still the authority.  We don’t change what we believe or teach as our culture changes.  We don’t want to be self-serving or manipulative in the way we operate as a congregation.  The goal is to glorify Christ and serve others.  The church is still intended to be a place where broken sinners, broken relationships, and broken lives find healing and restoration in Jesus through the gospel; especially healing from the power and condemnation of sin through forgiveness in Jesus and restoration with the Father.

It is interesting that the religious leaders are most upset, not about all the revenue they will be losing, but that Jesus is being praised as the promised Savior- God come to earth to save his people.  This is always the real issue:  Am I willing to acknowledge Jesus as the one with authority, or do I have the right to determine for myself what is true, good, and right?   How easy it is to act as if we are the authority; to question or even be dismissive of certain teachings in the Bible or to rationalize attitudes and thinking and behaviors that we have that are contrary to God’s Word.  

But that is why Jesus had come to Jerusalem: Because you and I and the entire human race needed rescuing from our foolish and selfish rebellion against the authority of God.  His mission is only beginning as he reveals who he is there in the temple on Monday.  He is headed for the cross of Good Friday to provide us with the forgiveness we all need, and turn our hearts from seeking what we want for our self-gratification to seeking what he wants for his glory.

Praise him for such amazing mercy and grace today!   Seek that grace not only for the forgiveness you need, but for the will to live for his glory in genuine thankfulness!