Holy Week continued – Tuesday
This was a day of much teaching and avoiding the traps set for Him by the religious leaders.
On the way back to the temple the next morning, Jesus and the 12 passed by the fig tree. It was withered and dead. Good for nothing but firewood. Remember that before, the tree was alive and full of leaves, giving the appearance that it was yielding fruit. But there was no fruit. The Lord cursed the tree, and it died as a testimony of what happens to those who give the outward appearance of spiritual righteousness, but produce no spiritual fruit. When Peter spoke about the tree, Jesus responded with a lesson on the importance of faith and forgiveness. Maybe Jesus was making them understand that, without faith and forgiveness, they would end up like this tree – like the ones cast out of the temple. But with faith and forgiveness, God would make their lives fruitful as a part of His Kingdom.
Maybe He was preparing them for the teachings they would hear that day…
As they entered the temple, Jesus was confronted by the religious leaders. They challenged His authority. They asked Him who gave Him His authority to do the things He was doing, attempting to catch Him in His words. He responded by asking them a question about the authority of John’s baptisms. It was a question they could not answer without being caught in their own words. Jesus went on (in the gospel of Mark) to establish his own authority – even over them by teaching the parable of the tenants and citing a prophesy from Psalm 118:22-23. Matthew’s account recalls 2 other parables proving the religious leaders to be lost and condemned in their stubbornness, by their own words and fruitless lives and lack of faith.
Then, His allegiance was tested by asking questions about government taxes. He answered according to scripture (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)
Next He was questioned about the order of husbands and wives in the resurrection in an attempt to fool Him by the Sadducees, who didn’t even believe in the resurrection. Jesus explained that in Heaven we are like the angels in that we do not marry. He also taught that the resurrection was indeed true because God the Father is the God of the living and not the dead, quoting exodus 3:6&15. (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been physically dead for many years at the time of Moses)
Finally, His tests ended when asked which was the greatest commandment. His response was that real and pure love for God and for other people was first and greatest because real and pure love for God and men fulfills all law.
There is much more. Too much to cover in one devotion.
But this is our Lord, Jesus Christ. Teaching in grace and truth, standing up to tests, and silencing all those who would try to discredit Him. He did all this with nothing but the authority and power of God’s Word.
Another day closer to the cross.
All the haters and scoffers, all the stubborn unbelievers were given yet another chance to repent and believe the Word – to believe in Him, because He is the Word. He is the King, who has real salvation.
What do you believe? WHO do you believe?