The Political Passion: Tuesday

Mark’s account of the Tuesday of passion week spans 3 chapters. I don’t want to stretch this post too thin, though. So I will call your attention to three particular events that occur during these chapters:

FIRST – In keeping with his action of “destroying” the temple on Monday, the day begins with the disciples’ amazement at the withering of a fig tree that Jesus had cursed on the previous day. Could the connection between the fig tree and Jesus’ actions in the temple be any more obvious?

SECOND – Most of the events of the day involve a rather one-sided rhetorical smackdown between Jesus and various Jewish leaders. The parable that Jesus tells after the first round, however, is particularly revealing: like evil tenants who do not respect their landowner, the temple authorities have foresaken Israel and the mission of God, thinking the “inheritance” of Israel can be theirs alone. God has sent prophets to them, whom they have killed. Now, God sends his son to them, and they will reject him as well. This parable, we are told, really gets to the temple leaders – it is clear that he has come to condemn them.

THIRD – While Chapter 13, which discusses, among other things, the signs of the destruction of the temple, can be quite confusing, don’t miss the overall point – the temple, now very clearly symbolic of corrupt leadership, will be utterly and literally destroyed. (For me, the key to making sense of what Jesus says here lies in understanding that Jesus is answering not one question, but two: First, when will the temple be destroyed; and second, what will be the sign of his coming – Jesus seems to go to great length to make sure the disciples distinguish between the two. When I read it with that concept in mind, it makes more sense to me.)

The main point is, again, that Jesus’ actions on Monday and Tuesday must be viewed together as a defiant act denouncing the temple leaders for their refusal to do justice and mercy. As we will see tomorrow, having crossed the line from “good teacher” into the political realm, Jesus’ death is now all but inevitable.

[Other posts in this series: Palm Sunday, Monday, Wednesday. Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday]

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