The Monday of Passion Week has always been associated with two events: Jesus Curses the Fig Tree (Mark 11: 12-14) and Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Luke 19:45-48). Both of these events at first glance seem out of character with current stereotypes of Jesus. The harsh tree cursing man and the “wild man” in the temple cleansing are judgmental and confrontational.
Evidently the biblical Jesus was more concerned about the souls of people than with his image or the harming of flora. Jesus condemned the practices of the temple for robbing God of the glory He deserved and perverting the purposes of His heavenly Father to “bless all nations” through Israel. The killing of the fruitless fig tree is a little more enigmatic but most scholars agree that Jesus, always the master teacher, was providing his disciples and future Bible readers a powerful and poignant lesson on the effects of dead religion. A pictorial version of John 15:5 if you will. The two events were meant to be taken together and point to God’s judgment on the religious leaders and system of Israel. Jesus doling out judgment is not the Jesus the world likes to say they love. Judgment is a bad word and being judgmental is seemingly inexcusable in culture today. However, without the Monday of Passion Week, the Friday and Sunday of Passion Week would have little meaning and even less attraction. If all was good in the world then what would be the point of the death and resurrection of Jesus? Because the efforts of humanity to bridge the chasm between their sin and God’s holiness fall short (Romans 3:23, 6:23) the solution had to be independent of man’s attempts to be righteous. Fortunately this devotion is Passion Week not Passion Sunday and Monday. Fortunately, in light of judgment Monday, Friday (and Sunday) were coming. Because God is as perfectly loving as He is perfectly holy his judgment could only lead to the most loving event in history. Paul would explain it like this,
“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature God did by sending his own son in likeness of sinful man.” – Romans 8:3
Monday’s judgment would bring Friday’s sacrifice and Sunday’s hope.
Today, as you take a few minutes to reflect on the upcoming Good Friday and Easter celebrations remember that both the crucifixion and the resurrection were (and still are) amazing because the old covenant, the law, the best efforts of men to produce righteousness, were incomplete, insufficient to save (read Hebrews 8).
Questions to consider:
- Are you (have you ever been) perfect?
- Are you thankful you don’t have to offer sin sacrifices over and over again?
- Are you thankful your relationship with God the father is not dependent on your ability to be perfect?
- Are you excited about Good Friday and Easter?