Passion Week Tuesday

Passion Week Tuesday Devotion

Matthew 21:23-26:5; Mark 11:20-13:37; Luke 20:1-21:36; John 12:20-38

​How many times have you uttered the phrase, “It has been a long day?” You are tired, worn out, and ready for rest. That could be you right now as you read this devotional guide. We are all accustomed to long days, where the end of the day cannot come soon enough. Tuesday of Holy Week was a long day. The day began by Jesus and his disciples returning to Jerusalem. Back at the Temple, the religious leaders plotted ways to arrest him. Later in the afternoon, Jesus and his disciples would travel to the Mount of Olives where our Lord would give his famous Olivet Discourse which predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and end-time prophecy. Likewise, on this day, Judas begins to confer with the religious leaders about his coming betrayal. There is much activity on Passion Week Tuesday.

What is interesting about the events and teachings of Passion Week Tuesday is that it spans nearly six chapters in the Gospel of Matthew. That is, approximately one-fifth of Matthew’s gospel could have taken place on Passion Tuesday. Jesus spoke many parables on this day. All of the synoptic gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record an important parable that was spoken on Tuesday of Passion Week. The Parable of the Vineyard Owner can be found in Matthew 21:33-36, Mark 12:1-12, and Luke 20:9-19. The parable is preceded by some historical context. We find the context from Luke 20:1-2 (CSB):

“One day as he was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the scribes, with the elders, came and said to him, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?”

The religious opponents challenged him with one biting question, “Who is it who gave you this authority?” Jesus subverted their authority by taking charge of the conversation. He refused to answer their question unless they would answer his own (20:3). Jesus essentially said, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.” With his question, Jesus undoubtedly surprised the chief priests and the elders. Jesus asked about the baptism of John. Our Lord asked, “Tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or of human origin?” (20:3-4, CSB)

Jesus, as well as the religious leaders, knew that he was asking them a question that would reveal the essence of their hearts. It would also put them in the position where they would have to acknowledge that either John the Baptist had been sent by God or John the Baptist was a false prophet. If they declared John the Baptist was from God, then they would have to explain why they had refused John’s call to repentance. On the other hand, if they identified John the Baptist as a false prophet, they would place themselves against the people, who had the common sense to understand that John the Baptist was a prophet sent from God. The temple authorities discussed the question and understood their options clearly:

“If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ 6But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are convinced that John was a prophet” (Luke 20:5-6, CSB)

The religious opponents had correctly identified their two options and the consequences of their supposed answers. In an ultimate act of surrender combined with naked cowardice, the temple authorities answered, “We do not know” (Luke 20:7).

Those words, “we do not know” are solemn words.

It is sobering to acknowledge that hell will be filled with people who said, “we do not know.” But there will be many who spend eternity separated from God because they did know. They sinned with their eyes wide open to the truth. It is truly heartbreaking. You share the gospel with others and they develop a series of excuses to insulate them. They say, “I would come to church, but you don’t realize what happened to me there previously.” Another excuse commonly given is, “There are so many hypocritical people who are Christians, I don’t want to join their hypocrisy.” Those evading God may even raise the thinly veiled argument, “I am not sure God exists” even though there is much evidence around them (cf. Romans 1). There is an important spiritual lesson from the events of Holy Week Tuesday:

People do not reject Christ because of their mind, they reject Christ because of their will.

Those bent towards their own moral autonomy will often put on the mask of the skeptic, appealing to intellectual arguments against God. Yet, at the end of their day, the reason unbelievers reject Christ is not because of intellect; it is because of their will. Unbelievers willfully refuse to bend their will towards God.

On this Passion Week Tuesday, do not give up on the person for whom you are praying! Take another opportunity to invite them to Easter at Shandon. The religious leaders tried not to act like stewards, they tried to act like owners. Jesus wants us to act as stewards. You are a steward of everything you have. You are to steward your mind, intellect, and your gifts. You are called to give everything you have to God. You are a steward of the gospel. God has given you the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. He has commanded you to share it with others. Jesus says, “Everything we have on earth really belongs to God.” Do not give up on the person far from God, because God has not given up on them.