Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Events of Holy Week Part 3--Holy Tuesday

We're trying to follow, as best we are able to guess, how the events of Holy Week occurred. We're pretty sure from the Gospel of Mark that we have some confidence of the chronology we've followed so far. In Mark 11:1-11 we read of Palm Sunday. Then in Mark 11:12, we're told about "the next day" which would be Holy Monday when He cursed the fig tree and then drove out the money changers and merchants who were gouging the poor by overcharging for Passover sacrificial animals (see the past few days blogs for all this).

It is now Holy Tuesday because we are told in Mark 11:20 that Jesus and the disciples went along "in the morning," after they had left the city the previous night following Christ cleansing the Temple.

So on Holy Tuesday, we discover these events:

First, Jesus wasn't afraid of a fight. In Mark 11:27-33 the chief priests and elders (the conservative RELIGIOUS folk!) came to Jesus and challenged His authority to teach and to do what He was teaching and doing. Jesus could see past their trap and asked THEM about the authority of John the Baptist...He caught them in a no-win situation, and they left Him alone. Then in Mark 12:18-27, other religious leaders, this time the liberals, try to trap Him. The liberals didn't believe in a resurrection, but tried to trap Jesus in a question dealing with a woman who had married seven brothers because each one had died after marrying her, one after another. Jesus ends up rebuking the liberals who refuse to believe what the Bible teaches.

The application for us is obvious: we must avoid both extremes of dead conservativism and worthless liberalism. We must seek grace to avoid becoming either legalistic, self-righteous, self-reliant Pharisees on the one hand, or cheap grace, subjective, relativistic, truth-denying liberal Sadducees on the other hand...and, like Jesus, we ought to be willing to graciously pick of fight with any of them!

Second, Jesus took the opportunity on this final Tuesday of His earthly life to teach the people. He teaches again about His impending death and teaches boldly that He is the Stone that the builders reject and becomes the Cornerstone of God's Redemptive, Restorative plan for the cosmos.

He also teaches on the role of Christians in, as Augustine wrote, the City of God and the City of Man...we're to give to the civil government the honor they require and we are to give to God the honor He requires.

Then Jesus teaches, this just a few days before His death, His greatest commandment...to love the Lord our God with ALL our heart, soul, mind and strength...and He gives the second great commandment too...to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28-34). May God give us His grace to love well!

We read that the widow's offering, two small coins that were all she had, occurred on this Holy Tuesday...are we sacrificial in our giving to the Kingdom of God?

Finally, Jesus teaches a lot on this Holy Tuesday about His Return and the End of the World. He talks about the separation of all humanity into the sheep and the goats; the former going to inhabit the New Earth and the latter suffering eternity apart from the Presence of God (Matt 25:31-46).

Now, we know that one is only rescued from hell and made a citizen of the New Earth by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ alone...but we also know that conversion is the supernatural work of the Spirit...a work that creates a new heart, a new nature...and therefore, a new lifestyle. Jesus makes it clear that those with new hearts, those who are sheep, who are destined to be inhabitants in the New Jerusalem, will take care of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the rejected and the imprisoned...how we doing there, Church?

Lastly, on Tuesday evening, most likely, Jesus teaches about the destruction of Jerusalem that would occur in 70AD. We know from Matthew 26:1-2 that Passover is still "two days away" so it's still Holy Tuesday. We read in Luke 21:5-36 that Jesus teaches on the signs of the End of the Age...wars, revolutions, EARTHQUAKES, famines, diseases and other fearful events.

This isn't fiction...this is history....and it is also prophecy. We were made for another world...a world that is quickly approaching. We are to live as those already citizens of the New Earth and we are to bring the restoring power of that New Earth to bear in all our activities, responsibilities and relationships every day. May we practice New World living on this Holy Tuesday.

Now, as far as the U2 connection for today's events on Holy Tuesday...since Jesus spoke so much on this day of the World to Come, it's only appropriate that we use what is perhaps U2's greatest song, the song of heaven, of the New Jerusalem, Where the Streets Have No Name.

Notice Bono on his knees in prayer quoting Psalm 116:12-14 from The Message translation of the Bible: "What can I give back to God for the blessings He's poured out on me? What can I give back to God for the blessings He's poured out on me? I'll lift high the cup of salvation as a toast to our God...to follow through on a promise I made to You...from the heart."

Think about this place where there is "no sorrow and no shame..."

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