Day 375 | Monday, 29 March 2021
Yesterday I indicated that the Passion narrative from Matthew begins at Matthew 21:1 and continues thru Matthew 27:66. There is a great quantity of material in these chapters to review during this week. I will lift up some of the material and encourage you to read through the Passion Narrative.
According to Matthew’s version, Jesus goes into the temple after making his entry into Jerusalem. (Mt. 21:12-17) “The temple is the symbolic and religious center of Judaism. Those ‘selling or buying’ and those involved in the ‘currency exchange’ were merchants practicing normal trade transactions for sojourners arriving in Jerusalem without proper sacrifices or coinage. Doves were sacrifices bought and used by the poor.” Jesus was not happy with the temple being used for profit making. This is one occasion where we see Jesus with a temper. He reminded those present that “My house will be called a house of prayer.”
Only Matthew records Jesus’ healing of the ‘blind and lame’ to continue the healing ministry.
The next day, Jesus returns after spending the night in Bethany. First, he curses a fig tree which was symbolic of the people of Israel. Here we read the verse If you have faith, you will receive whatever your pray for.
The temple leadership confronts Jesus about his authority, but he returns with a question of his own which they do not answer. Because they do not answer, neither does Jesus. Jesus follows this exchange with the Parable of two sons, the parable of the tenant farmers and the parable of the wedding party – where “Many people are invited, but few are chosen.”
This is a week when the Pharisees and Sadducees try very hard to catch Jesus off guard so that they might challenge who he is and bring charges against him. In the next section of chapter 22 in Matthew, the trap against Jesus centers around taxes. 17 So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" 18 Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, "Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Do you have a coin? Let me see it." They handed him a silver piece. 20 "This engraving - who does it look like? And whose name is on it?" 21 They said, "Caesar." "Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his." 22 The Pharisees were speechless. The plan didn’t work the way they had hoped. The next plot is to trick him about the resurrection. 30At the resurrection we're beyond marriage. As with the angels, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. 31 And regarding your speculation on whether the dead are raised or not, don't you read your Bibles? The grammar is clear: God says, 32 'I am - not was - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.' The living God defines himself not as the God of dead men, but of the living."
A Prayer of Confession for Holy Week
“Hold us close, patient God, for we know how hard this week can be. We see our own failures mirrored in the Passion story. We know we betray the trust given to us. We let our children down. We avoid the eyes of the homeless. We treat your creation with indifference and abuse. We deny your love by covering up our talents, hiding behind low self-esteem, looking to others to lead the way. We are frightened by the costliness of following you and fear that we will be found fleeing the scene or joining in with the accusing crowd.
Loving God, hold us close so we may move through the shadows, confront the darkness and rejoice in the surprising triumph of your stronger-than-death love. Through Jesus, we pray. Amen.”