Day of controversy
"'By what authority are you doing these things?...' Jesus replied: 'I will ask you one question. Answer me and I will tell you...'" Mark 11. 28-29
The Tuesday of Holy Week (or Passion Week, as it is sometimes called) is a day of controversy. Jesus returns to the temple in Jerusalem, where he is quizzed by the authorities about the source of his own authority, particularly his right to "cleanse" the temple. Jesus resists all attempts to incriminate him, buying time to convey all the messages of hope and warning which he needed to deliver. You can read all about them in Matthew 21.23 - 24.51, Mark 11.27 - 13.37, Luke 20.1 - 21.36.
Using parables, Jesus warned people about the dangers of false teaching and the hypocrisy of those who fail to practice what they preach. He foretold the destruction of the temple and his own return. Sometime during the afternoon Jesus withdrew to Bethany, a few miles to the east of Jerusalem where he was staying with his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
It's easy to assume that we would have been hanging on Jesus' words and cheering him on as he challenged the status quo. But would we? The litmus test of that is whether, in our own day, we live comfortably within the constraints of our own society, enjoying its fruits, or whether we are prepared to challenge wherever it deviates from the teachings of Jesus, moderating our own behaviour as well - even when that is costly and/ or uncomfortable.
Jesus' teachings cut deep and affect us personally as well as collectively. But his grace and mercy reach just as far and the hope he offers is equal to all our fears. So let's make up our minds to ignore society's seductive call to prioritise our selfish interests and throw in our lot with Jesus instead: abandoning self-interest in this life, in order to gain eternal life now and in the age to come...