Today’s Reading: Math 21:23-27
Upon reading this passage I am immediately taken back to my childhood. Sitting criss-cross applesauce on the cold floor, gathered around a flannel board as the Sunday school teacher pulls out an Americanized cartoon cutout of Jesus. She sticks the cartoon Jesus to the board and begins to surround him with a large crowd of felt cutout people, eagerly waiting to hear the superlative words that are coming from His mouth. In my seven year old mind, the crowd is gathered out of anticipation. I always thought this story was a picture of the wisdom and majesty of Christ and a crowd of people eager to hear what He has to say when in fact, that isn’t the complete story.
Jesus spends the entire day in the temple and indeed a large crowd has gathered but their chief purpose isn’t learning, it’s interrogation. We see in today’s reading that the chief priests, scribes and elders (the religious leaders of the day) have joined forces together and are coming to Jesus, confronting Him in the midst of a large crowd. They demanded to know what kind of authority Jesus had to be driving out the vendors in the temple court, teaching the people inside the temple walls and accepting the, “Hosanna” praises of the crowd just days before. They then asked, “And who gave you this authority?” which was an indirect way of saying Jesus had no authority at all because they had not given it to Him.
On this day I begin to feel the tension mount. Although I know well the victory that is to come, my stomach knots as I read the historical account of the heightened animosity. How ironic that the very ones who should have been the greatest promoters of the Messiah were, in fact, the greatest opposers of the Messiah.
Today is the last time we see Jesus teach publicly as a free man. He will soon bear the full weight of the Father’s wrath. In the days ahead He will be “delivered up according to the foreknowledge of God” and be “crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:23) Everything seems to be spiraling out of control as if evil will momentarily get the upper hand, but God is sovereign over all the moments and directs the spirals for His glory.