Matthew 21:23-24:51, Mark 11:20-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:38, John 12:20-38
Jesus and His disciples spent their days teaching and ministering in the temple during Passover week, and their evenings at the Mount of Olives. Scripture is filled with teaching during this week: paying taxes to Caesar, the resurrection, signs of the end of the ages, the widow’s offering, the coming of the Son of Man, and many more teachings.
That morning, back at the temple, the religious leaders were furious. They were upset about Christ’s teaching. They were upset about the crowds being healed and ministered to. Now they wanted to know why and by what authority Jesus was operating. Their intent was to trick Jesus and arrest Him.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean (Matthew 23:23-26, ESV).
In Matthew 23, Jesus issued seven woes to the religious leaders. He told the people the religious leaders are doing their deeds to be seen by others (Matthew 23:5). It was confrontational. It was revolutionary. Christ was setting the record straight and liberating His people from religious bondage. It was during these teachings and Jesus’ ministry that Judas Iscariot began negotiating with the Sanhedrin for Jesus’ arrest.
The message of the cross is confrontational. Christ’s message during the Passover week challenged His hearers. The religious crowd was confronted, and the broken and infirmed were healed and made whole. Even one of Jesus’ closest began plotting to betray Him. Jesus taught that if we are to follow Him, we must take up our own cross (Matthew 16:24). Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, but we also will deny our flesh, sacrificing it on an altar of worship to follow faithfully after Him (Romans 12:1).
As you read through Christ’s teachings from the Passover week, take time to reflect on what He is speaking to you this week. The signs of Christ’s return are all around us. Let us diligently prepare the altar of our own sacrifice and look up with great anticipation, for He is coming again!