Pastor’s Corner: “Passion Week”
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1
Passion Week, which is also known as Holy Week, starts on Palm Sunday and continues until Resurrection Sunday. It covers the major events of Jesus’ last days on earth before His crucifixion and resurrection. It is a great week to slow down and observe the last moments of Jesus’ life.
- What did Jesus do during His final week?
- What was He like?
- What was He teaching about?
- How were other people treating Him
All of these things help us get a fuller picture of those last days, and help us understand what it was really like for Christ.
MONDAY: The Cleansing of the Temple
Matthew 21:12-20 (AMP) – Cleansing the Temple – 12 And Jesus entered the temple [grounds] and drove out [with force] all who were buying and selling [birds and animals for sacrifice] in the temple area, and He turned over the tables of the moneychangers [who made a profit exchanging foreign money for temple coinage] and the chairs of those who were selling doves [for sacrifice]. 13 Jesus said to them, “It is written [in Scripture], ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.” 14 And the blind and the lame came to Him in [the porticoes and courts of] the temple area, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful and miraculous things that Jesus had done, and heard the boys who were shouting in [the porticoes and courts of] the temple [in praise and adoration], “Hosanna to the Son of David (the Messiah),” they became indignant 16 and they said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus replied to them, “Yes; have you never read [in the Scripture], ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies You have prepared and provided praise for Yourself’?” 17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
Jesus moves from intense grief and weeping upon His descent into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to passionate anger in the Cleansing of the Temple. This clearing of the Temple is one of the most physically striking moments in all of Jesus’ ministry. Much of what we tend to focus on about the life of Jesus centers around scenes where He was teaching a captive audience or healing with compassion. We often have very gentle ideas about Jesus in our mind when we envision what He was like. The clearing of the Temple stands in stark contrast to the popular images of Jesus we tend to hold. Consumed with holy zeal, Jesus stormed into the Temple, no doubt frightening and confusing to many who were present, including the disciples.
He saw greed and people being taken advantage of. Money changers popped up and were a regular sight in the Temple out of convenience to the people. But fees for this service were added on and those money changers made an excessive profit that oppressed the poor. They added even more exorbitant prices by bringing in doves, pigeons, cattle, and sheep from afar. People knew their sins needed to be atoned for, but their pocketbooks couldn’t afford it. He made a whip from some ropes and chased the greedy salespeople from the Temple. Jesus turned those tables over, scattering coins over the floor. His anger and disapproval were right and just because His Temple was never meant for that. His disciples remembered that the Scriptures said that passion for God’s house will consume Him (Psalm 69:9).
The key word here is PASSION. Jesus passionately grieved over Jerusalem and how they missed the visitation of God and the ensuing destruction coming upon Jerusalem. Jesus also was passionately and righteously angry over people being taken advantage of in His house. Jesus as God does not take lightly being misrepresented! Jesus is passionate about His Temple and today His temple is not a building but the Body of Christ, the church (we are living stones I Peter). 1 Corinthians 6:19 (AMP) – 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? Jesus is Passionate about YOU!
And He is Passionate about Holiness and the cleansing of this temple. A prophecy made around 500 years before Jesus came witnesses to Christ’s holiness and purity. Malachi 3:1-4 (NIV) – “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
The religious leaders didn’t understand what He was doing. But at this moment in the story Jesus did something even more unexpected and extraordinary. He paused when He saw the blind and the lame that had gathered and then He went over and healed them. He often stopped on His purposeful journeys to help people. Jesus always thinks of people first. He didn’t come into the world to condemn it; He came to save the people within it. The leaders in the Temple saw these miracles but instead of thanking God, they complained about the children’s praises. Jesus reminded them that the Scriptures say to teach children to praise.
People before Money: We should always remember that people come before money. Helping the hurting people who are praying for help means much more than making money. Donations to churches are important to keep them running and they need to run in order to equip believers to live rightly. However, these efforts shouldn’t be put above helping people. When we seek to love our neighbors as brothers and sisters, it keeps us from committing sin. When we don’t love our neighbors, we become jealous, angry, or bitter, and therefore capable of committing even the most horrendous sins. Love really does cover a multitude of sins. The most important commandments have love at their base: love God wholeheartedly and love your neighbors. God and people are the most important things in this world.
In His Grace,