March 30, 2021
As I write this last letter to you it is Tuesday of Holy Week. It is a habit of mine to listen to “Jesus Christ Superstar” start to finish at least once during Holy Week. The songs get stuck in my head and become a reminder of what happened in Jerusalem so long ago.
Jesus’ last Tuesday was a very busy day, a full day. In the gospel of Mark, Tuesday takes up most of three chapters. At 115 verses it is the longest day in Mark’s telling of the Passion narrative and it is full of contentious conversations between the temple authorities and Jesus. They grill him on the source of his authority. They try to trick him with a question about paying taxes to Caesar. The Sadducees, who didn’t believe in the resurrection, ask Jesus “If a woman has been married more than once, whose wife is she in the resurrection?” They didn’t care what the answer was, they just wanted to see if they could get Jesus to speak against Moses and the law.
Again, and again, they asked their tricky questions and at each turn, Jesus either eludes the trap or wins the debate. Throughout the day he uses parables to teach the crowds about himself, his Father, the law, and the commandments. At no point does he falter.
At the end of the day when he is leaving the Temple, Jesus warns his friends about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. He tells them about the coming of the Son of Man and says that all these things will happen soon- during their generation. Mark, along with Paul and many others, believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime. From our perspective, we know they were wrong. Yet their belief in Jesus’ imminent return tells us of something even more important – “a deeper meaning… Namely what has begun in Jesus will triumph, despite the tumult and resistance of this world.” It is a clear sign of their confidence and enduring hope in the word of Jesus Christ.
In their book The Last Week, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan write, “The story of Holy Week as Mark and the other gospels tell it enables us to hear the passion of Jesus—what he was passionate about—that led to his execution. His passion was the kingdom of God, what life would be like on earth if God were king, and the rulers, domination systems, and empires of this world were not. It is God’s dream, a dream that can only be realized by being grounded ever more deeply in the reality of God, whose heart is justice. Jesus’s passion got him killed. But God has vindicated Jesus.”
Tuesday doesn’t get the same attention during Holy Week as Thursday or Friday. Yet it has much to offer us as we consider who Jesus was and is and will be. The stories from that day challenge us to examine our own lives. Are we hopeful? Are we confident in God’s power to change the world? Do we share Christ’s passions for justice and equity? Are we working to help bring about the kingdom of God in this place?
In closing I offer you the Prayer of the Day for Tuesday in Holy Week.
Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you. Grant that our love may not grow cold in your service, and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
+ Pastor Heidi
Quotations are from The Last Week, Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, Harper One, 2007.
The painting is Chief Priests Ask Jesus by What Right Does He Act in This Way by James Tissot. It is from Tissot’s The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ project took nearly ten years to complete. When it was done, it chronicled the entire life of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament in a series of 350 watercolors. To research the project Tissot traveled to Egypt, Syria, and Palestine in 1886–87, and again in 1890.