Day 3 - Tuesday

On Tuesday morning, Jesus returned to the Temple to teach the gathered crowd.  The religious teachers, priests, elders, Sadducees, and Pharisees were plotting and scheming to trap Jesus into breaking religious laws.  They were openly challenging His authority.  We see Jesus answering their leading questions with more questions, telling stories to illustrate and lay bare their treachery, and openly criticizing them in front of the crowd.  All four gospels record this time Jesus spent at the Temple, but Matthew is my favorite.  

In Matthew’s account, Jesus put it all on the line and held nothing back.  His time was short, and He had a lot to say.  This is the day we see Jesus curse the fig tree to illustrate what the power of faith can do and scold the religious leaders with the parables of the father with two sons, the evil farmers and the great feast.  The leaders were frustrated because they wanted to arrest Jesus, but they knew it would anger the crowd that was drinking in every word He said. Tuesday was when Jesus told the leaders to give to Caesar what belonged to Caesar and to God what was God’s.  He brilliantly replied to their tricky question about the most important commandment with the foundation of the entire law – to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.  And then Jesus spat out a long and scathing rebuke to the religious leaders.  He called them vipers, filthy and blind fools.  It was a stunning tirade, and a carefully crafted expose’ of their hypocrisy.  

Jesus and His disciples left this verbal battle and went to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus continued to get a lot of information off His chest.  He predicted the destruction of the Temple, the second coming of the Messiah and end of the world, and He illustrated with more stories.  

Many people heard Jesus speak on Tuesday, and each of them had a choice – "What do I do with Jesus?"  Those in the crowd could have decided to treat Him as a curiosity and be amused at His rebuke of the authorities.  They could have opened their hearts and accepted His message of love, mercy and justice.  They could have chosen to reject Him outright and stick with what they’d been taught about their long-expected King. 
 The religious leaders had the same choice of what to do with Jesus.  Their very existence was being threatened.  They held positions of great power and privilege, and Jesus exposed them for the frauds that they were.  Accepting Jesus as their Messiah would mess up their entire system of power and control, so they plotted to eliminate the threat.

Each of the disciples chose for themselves what to do with Jesus.  Their choices played out over the next few days, some with tragic consequences.  Peter’s denial and Judas’s betrayal were stunning choices given the three years they had spent watching and listening as Jesus taught the masses, healed the broken, and raised the dead.  But most of the disciples chose to spend the rest of their lives continuing the ministry of Jesus and spreading the Good News, even when it meant suffering horribly for Christ.  

What will I do with Jesus?  When I read Matthew’s witness of Tuesday, I see a wise, confident, smart and determined Jesus who was under persistent attack, but never lost control.  He was so committed to fulfilling His purpose that He was willing to be provocative as He exposed the religious leaders for their greed.  He was willing to be transparent with the crowd about the faults in the faith system in which He was raised and to which He belonged.  In His short ministry, He loved readily and unconditionally, welcoming children and including women. He told stories that taught us about His Father’s character, and we’re still retelling those stories to this day.  What will I do with Jesus?  I will live my life seeking to be more like Him.  I will immerse myself in His life and His words.  I’ll accept His sacrifice as the greatest gift the world has ever seen and rejoice that the gift is available to everyone.  He’ll be my all.  Jesus.  All.  

Each of us has a choice.  What will you do with Jesus?  

By Joyce Newmyer

Listen to a message on this topic from the One project gathering in Seattle, 2016

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