by Pastor Gene
Today is Holy Monday. The events of this Week are at the very heart of our faith. Of course, there are the three astonishing spheres of opposition that our Lord would face: (1) satanic opposition at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46), (2) human and institutional opposition at Gabbatha (John 19:13), and (3) Divine opposition at Golgotha (Matthew 27:46). I’ve taught through each of these in previous years.
But beyond these there are the teachings, the confrontations, the miracles, etc of Jesus’ final days.
All salvific history and prophetic anticipation find their fulfillment in this earth-shattering Week. I hope these e-mails will help you to put yourself in the picture and to walk through it with Jesus.
HOLY MONDAY (in the Jewish reckoning, Sunday evening to Monday evening)
The key readings for today are found in sections of Matthew 21, Mark 11 and Luke 19.
|Jesus curses the barren fig tree||Mount of Olives||21:18-19a||11:11-18||—||—|
|Jesus cleanses the temple||Jerusalem||21:12-13||11:15-18||19:45-48||—|
|Certain Greeks ask to see Jesus||Jerusalem||—||—||—||12:20-36|
|Jesus rebukes unbelief||Jerusalem||—||—||—||12:37-50|
|Jesus returns to Bethany||Bethany||—||11:19||—||—|
(Chart by William Stewart)
After spending the evening in Bethany (a few miles away), Jesus awakes and returns to Jerusalem with His disciples.
He’s bothered by what He witnessed in the Temple the day before. He’s angry that the practices allowed in the Temple were actually keeping people (especially the Gentiles) from meeting God there. All of the exchanging of money and the sale of sacrificial animals all took place in the “court of the Gentiles” – the only place where Gentiles could worship YHWH.
So, Jesus “cleansed the Temple” on Holy Monday morning. At the Temple, He “was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? (Mark 11:17)
This event signified Jesus’ authority as the Messiah. Malachi 3:1b prophesied that “the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple . . .”
Our Lord also performed the only DESTRUCTIVE miracle of his entire ministry on this day – look for it in Mark 11.
Mark 11:19 records that He returned to Bethany that evening.
Jesus cleansed the Temple on Holy Monday. But, “do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Pray that Jesus might do whatever “cleansing” He needs to do in us that we might truly experience His presence and manifest His goodness to the godless world around us.
ASIDE: A WORD ABOUT CHRONOLOGY
The following is a bit tedious and is not for everyone. If it’s not for you, feel free to skip it! For those who venture on, I warned you!
Piecing together this chronology is not easy. It’s incredibly time consuming too! Some scholars argue that constructing an absolute itinerary of Jesus’ last days is impossible. Some of the Gospels are unclear as to when (on which day) a certain event occurred. In some cases, the chronology is very sure. Some gaps in the timeline do exist, so this is the best I can do with what Scripture records.
There are also some seeming contradictions in a few instances. Some of these can be satisfactorily answered by assuming that the Gospel writers may have used different time references. For instance, the Romans and the Jews differed as to when a day began and ended. This may account for some of the difficulties (especially between the Synoptic Gospels [Matthew, Mark, Luke] and John’s Gospel.
That being said, in piecing together the chronology of the week leading up to our Lord’s crucifixion, the Gospel of Mark is a tremendous help. Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan use Mark to establish the chronology in their book, The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem (HarperCollins, 2009), from which we draw the following points:
First of all, Mark is most likely the earliest gospel, and so the first narrative account of Jesus’ final week. It was written around A.D. 57–59, during the early part of Emperor Nero’s reign (A.D. 54–68).
Secondly, Mark went out of his way to give us certain time markers which record Jesus’ last week day-by-day; the others give some, but not all of these.
Look at how Mark “marks” (yuk yuk) time in the day-by-day story as rendered by the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV):
Sunday: “When they were approaching Jerusalem” (11:1)
Monday: “On the following day” (11:12)
Tuesday: “In the morning” (11:20)
Wednesday: “It was two days before the Passover” (14:1)
Thursday: “On the first day of Unleavened Bread” (14:12)
Friday: “As soon as it was morning” (15:1)
Saturday: “The Sabbath” (15:42; 16:1)
Sunday: “Very early on the first day of the week” (16:2)
Mark even gives us “morning” and “evening” tags for three of those days:
Sunday (11:1, 11),
Monday (11:12, 19), and
Thursday (14:12, 17).
Finally, only Mark records the events of Good Friday in three-hour intervals. The audience of Mark’s Gospel are the Romans and these three-hour intervals are consistent with Roman military watch times. This is the way they are rendered by the New Revised Standard Version:
6am: “As soon as it was morning” (15:1);
9am: “It was nine o’clock in the morning” (15:25);
12 noon: “When it was noon” (15:33);
3pm: “At three o’clock” (15:34);
6pm: “When evening had come” (15:42).
Still, harmonizing the four Gospels is not without problems. Have a headache yet?
Anyway, these blogs will reflect the best I can do with the chronology. But, after all, a perfect chronology is not really the point here. Considering these events in a fresh way is.
Hopefully, the Lord will use these markers to draw us into a place of deeper reflection and appreciation. I think, with the Lord’s help, we’ll be able to do that.
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