As we consider the events in Jesus’ life on Tuesday before his death, we notice a very busy day. Jesus returns to Jerusalem, passing by and cursing an unfruitful fig tree on the way. He teaches the people with parables and is again confronted by the religious leaders. The Pharisees keep asking him questions, hoping he will stumble and fail in his answers. Finally, Jesus had enough, so he lashed out with strong words of rebuke for the “scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew 23:1-39.”
Imagine the religious leaders receiving a much-deserved chastisement from Jesus. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Matthew 23:13, ESV). Jesus persists for a total of seven woes to these religious leaders.
Again and again, the leaders feel such shame and fury that they want to arrest him, but they can’t find the right time or place. Nonetheless, Jesus knew they would find a way to capture him and kill him. With the cross looming before him, Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27–28a, ESV). Jesus didn’t speak of his imminent painful death on the cross; instead, he spoke of God receiving the glory. Talk about complete devotion and surrender to the Father’s will! The work that Jesus needed to accomplish did not come easy. How often would we prefer the easy path and settle for meager results? How many times do we think our plans are better than God’s because they require less of us than God does? Jesus committed himself to the entire purpose the Father planned for him.
Then Jesus says some of the most sobering words that he spoke while on earth, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:31–32, ESV). Jesus made known that His substitutionary death would strike the fateful blow to evil. The end of evil can be a present reality for anyone who places their belief in Jesus.
At the close of such a long and tiring day filled with confrontations, teachings, and warnings, Jesus and his disciples returned to Bethany for the night.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Eric grew up in the little town of Gibraltar, PA with his grandparents. He met his wife Cheryl while working at Good’s Greenhouse in Bowmansville, PA. He has three adult children and values watching them grow into the people God wants them to be.