By what authority are You doing these things? Who gave You this authority?
Tuesday of Christ’s last week was a day marked with challenges to His authority. The Herodians asked him about paying tribute to Caesar. The Sadducees asked Him about the resurrection. The Pharisees queried Him about the greatest commandment. Each came with a mock-enquiry, not a genuine searching for truth, and each formed their question around their own perspectives, biases, and concerns. The crowds observed a match of wits and of understanding. They could not trap Jesus in their silly arguments. He rose above all three and asked His own of them. We would expect nothing less from God Incarnate.
With the day ending Christ then left the temple complex never to return. It is appropriate that the following discussions in the gospels are about the end times and Christ’s Second Coming, for even the disciples who were often slow to understand and believe must have grasped the significance of the moment. As they were leaving they pointed out to Him the magnificence of the temple buildings – Herod’s temple was a beautiful structure! Yet Christ was unimpressed. He saw through the duplicity of the priests, the hollowness of their faith, and the pretense of their religion, and saw certain doom coming, not merely political problems ahead but the judgment of God upon them for they “knew not the day of their visitation.”
The two final touches of the Artist to the canvas of history for that Tuesday reveal the tenderness and compassion of Christ. First, He wept over Jerusalem, likening them to chicks and Himself to a mother hen. He would like to gather them under His wings of love and protection, but they were unwilling (Matt. 23:37-39). Second, He took note of a simple widow’s gift in the treasury of the temple, who gave out of her poverty, and “put in everything she possessed” (Mark 12:44) – two pictures of Christ’s tender-heartedness, but also two insights into the mind of God. How often Christ has called out to the world and the world has turned a deaf ear to His voice.
God’s heart longs for this world to turn to Him, not because He is the supreme egotist, but because He knows it is right. He made us for Himself and the rugged cross of redemption speaks of how far He was willing to go to win us back to Himself. But His heart also looks for faith, even among the simplest and most obscure of people. No faith in Him in any heart goes unnoticed. No good deed for Christ is unknown in heaven. In the face of rejection, questioning, trials, anger, threats, and the almost carnival-like atmosphere of that day, His intent remained pure and His focus was upon His mission. On Tuesday we see the same Christ who on Friday would forgive the crowds who mocked Him and win a man hanging on the cross next to Him as a convert to Himself. He came not for acceptance’s sake, or popularity, but He came to seek and to save the lost.
The inspired author of Hebrews calls us to keep our eyes focused upon Jesus in our race of faith, and these final days of His public ministry provide us with a rich picture of the Man. Often the only remedy to the trials and concerns of life is to meditate on the Christ, on His life and devotion, on His character and peace. Even if we do not understand all about how it happens, the Spirit uses the gospels to lighten our burdens, to build up our faith, to heighten our devotion, and to increase our peace. Place your eyes upon the real Christ today. Let the depth of richness of this Life, of this Person, touch your heart. He knows the plans He has for you, plans to bless you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope. He knows also every thought of your heart, every worry, and every notion of faith, as well as every good deed as well. Commit your way to Him and He will open up your heart to receive blessings indescribable and immeasurable.
Lord, it pains us to read of Your rejection, but You are enlarged in our hearts and in our minds through the way You faced rejection by Your own creation. Let us fix our eyes on You. Attract us to Yourself in faith and in devotion. Give us Your peace. Amen.