It had been 48 hours since Jesus’ grand entrance into Jerusalem. The scene ended but the whole place was still buzzing with questions. Who is this guy? Everyone was asking..
Is he a prophet?
A big joke?
He had accepted their welcome that day with all its gestures and palm branches, but he knew they didn’t have a clue who he really was. They were crying out for a king, but he wouldn’t be who they wanted.
One of Jesus’ stops during the week leading up to his death was the temple. He went in there after his arrival to Jerusalem and started flipping over all the table tables and kicking people out for making a profit and a mockery of what was meant to be a holy place. I both love and fear this side of Jesus. I love to think of him as getting angry at all the things I hate too. But then I can’t help but wonder what tables in my own life he’d throw across the room too if he came to see me..
The next day he went back to the temple to face off with a different group of people- the religious leaders. These leaders knew the language and the verses and the prayers and all the right things. They had the appearance of good, but really everything they did was self-seeking. Their hearts were such a mess and Jesus was there to call them out on it. He would make sure one last time before he left that it was perfectly clear what kind of people his kingdom was really about.
On that day in the temple Jesus blasted the religious leaders right there in front of everyone. It had come to that point I guess and he wasn’t there to play. He started to accuse them with pretty intense statements-
“Woe to you for tying heavy burdens onto people’s shoulders that you aren’t willing to bear yourselves.”
“Woe to you, you hypocrites, for deciding for yourselves who is good enough for the kingdom.”
“Woe to you for pretending to be clean on the outside when you know your inside is full of selfishness and pride.”
“Woe to you, you white washed tombs. You look good- but really you’re full of dead bones.”
“Woe to you, you snakes. How will you ever escape?”
..Gosh, can you imagine what it felt like to be there that day and hear Jesus saying these things? Even right now, you’re probably either thinking dang Jesus, where’s the love? Or you’re sitting really still and quiet like me because you know – you know – that what he’s accusing them of is so real. You see it everywhere. Maybe even a little bit in yourself?
I want to get to Easter this week. I do. I want to get to all the excitement and energy that surrounds it. Because the cross wasn’t the end and that does change everything! And this year more than ever I’m grateful that for some reason by God’s grace, I just really feel the significance around what we’re about to celebrate.
But I want to walk through this week and towards Sunday slowly. Because the people’s Hosanna chants turned to crucifixion cries so fast, and that scares me. And the table throwing and the bold accusations of Jesus towards the so-called holy ones that I read about today makes me want to get real real about the condition of my own heart before God.
Jesus made it so clear, especially in this last week of his life, that his kingdom coming to earth would be about humility and weakness and dying to bring life. He was unphased by politics or social standing or anyone’s facade. He broke down the self-righteous but he strengthened the weak and brought dignity to the marginalized. He lovingly engaged with anyone who just recognized their absolute need for him. He wasn’t interested in any sort of manufactured religion or empty words that didn’t involve a pure heart. He didn’t want the people’s applause.
But I’m not so sure about us. I’m not saying we’re all Pharisees. Because we aren’t. But I am checking my own heart while I read these stories this week and just asking God to help me see rightly. The Jews missed what was really happening, the religious “influencers” of their day missed it, and even some of Jesus’ closest friends missed it a little bit that Easter week…
I don’t want to miss it.