Tuesday – Wolves & Sheep
Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priest and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. But not during the Feast, they said, “or the people may riot.”
- Mark 14:1,2
. . . It is now Tuesday. Jesus and the disciples once again rise with the sun coming over the Mount of Olives and casting light onto Jerusalem. They see the city where the Lord’s anger burned a short while ago. They pack up only what is necessary, talking very little and eating even less. They are headed back into a hive of treachery and threat. Their minds and stomachs turn at the prospect of resistance and confrontation.
Yesterday, Jesus forced the events and strode out of Jerusalem leaving men guessing, questioning and preparing – preparing to strike back. It was only Sunday that the people gladly followed in his wake, but now the crowds are thinning – worried by the cruel arm of the authorities. Most people, in fact, stand at a distance this day, watching and talking amongst themselves as he and the disciples head towards the Temple. They are certain confrontation waits.
In the Temple, the sellers have restored their stands and tents; the business continues, but nothing is the same. Everyone watches Jesus with curious eyes as he walks into the stone courtyard.
It doesn’t take long for the chief priests to come towards him, approaching here one, then another. They do not come at him directly. They are looking to land a crafty blow. Using deceit, they try to trap him behind the law and discredit him with riddles. “By what authority are you doing these things?” They seek to break Jesus down by tapping holes in his character. They are cunning. They are manipulative. They are persistent. But they are without success. For the one they approach is without blemish, and his mind and heart consistently turn their questions into folly – making them, not he, the fool. Questions aimed at Jesus become riddles for the inquisitors.
And as he casts his enemies aside with a question here and a quick division there, he continues to look through them and beyond them – walking towards a young family to rub a child’s hair as he talks. Jesus is not in the temple to play mind games with the chief scribes or to fight over syntax with the Sadducees; he is there bringing mercy and truth to those desiring words to fall from the very lips of God and into their hearts. He has a message to proclaim, and his passion is to deliver the good news.
See how quickly he turns the Pharisees efforts to confuse into an opportunity to teach. Turning the focus away from his accusers, he watches a poor woman deliver a small coin into the Temple coffers, and he gets up and walks towards her, teaching as he goes: “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” And he lets his words hang before them as he looks at her and then back towards the leaders.
Feel Jesus’ excitement lift the air as he finds a student who has listened and drawn near to his teachings. The Rabbi is interacting with a disciple.
And on he continues to teach and baffle the crowds with his wisdom. Some say, “Who is like this man that he is able to settle issues so quickly and so clearly?” Others smile, finding his oratory skills delightful, as if his words are forming a tapestry of truth. Still, the naysayers nag and pick at him.
He can stand it no more. He turns to them directly and delivers the harshest of words: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Their faces turn sour with the invectives. Their eyes peer through him, returning his judgment with their anger and bitterness.
As Jesus and his disciples walk out of the temple and beyond the city walls of Jerusalem, the sun is now setting behind them. They are headed back to the Mount of Olives, and the darkness that is before them is nothing like the darkness beginning to rise in the city. Hurt egos and sinister minds are gathering together looking to terminate their pain. Like wounded beasts, they are desperate now to end the game they are losing; they are prepared to take His life to save their image. It won't be long.
Jesus and His disciples are now back at the Mount of Olives where they should be resting, but they too are thinking, “It is only a matter of time now.” They are anxious to see the promises. They are itching to experience the revolution. They cannot help approaching Jesus even as he seems to be near sleep.
“Tell us, when will these things happen?” they ask – hoping to prod Jesus a little and stir some more secrets out of him. They seek only a little, but Jesus feeds them with abundance and coats all of his words with mystery. He fills their minds with stories of destruction and judgment. Pictures of lightning bolts and thieves flash before them as they hear him speak, “The day and the hour is unknown, but be certain to always be ready and to watch!”
Left unsettled and uncertain, Peter, James, John, and Andrew each mull over His words and chase their thoughts into their dreams. The small band of hopefuls and Jesus find themselves finally sleeping after a long day.
It is the close of Tuesday. Deceitfulness was the offensive that was launched today, but the measures of Jesus’ enemies were turned away. Instead, truth was the passion that opened Jesus’ lips. He was driven to feed the sheep even as the wolves sought His life . . .