After upsetting the money changers and the merchandisers, Jesus goes back to the temple the next day. Now that he’s got their attention, he figures he’ll teach them a thing or two.
As we know when we think we have put somebody ‘in their place’ we succeed in making enemies. Those who Jesus upset yesterday are ready today with a whole host of questions. We’ll teach that Jesus a thing or two. “By what authority are you doing these things?”
He answers them by asking a question. Since they can’t answer his question, Jesus says he won’t answer theirs. Later, others try to trap him with clever questions and scenarios.
He is asked, “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?”
Now they’ve really got him: if he says “yes”, he’s a traitor to the Jewish cause; if he says “no” he’s a traitor to the Roman cause and they’ll turn him in.
The Sadducees, who don’t believe in the after-life, decide to box clever: they ask Jesus a question on the existence of an after-life to find out what he thinks about it.
Jesus sees right through their trickery, reads their minds and directly confronts their misconceptions about heaven and the resurrection.
The Bible tells us there was one man there who witnessed Jesus’ wisdom. ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ He really wanted to know, he wasn’t just asking Jesus this to trick him.
The intellectual sparring match had come to an end as Jesus answers,
“The most important one is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbour as yourself.”
There’s a lot more that goes on at the temple that day, Jesus sparred with brilliant minds concerning politics, the after-life, the finer points of the Mosaic law, and other puzzles.
This year, possibly more than any other year, we are looking at the events of Holy Week
through very different eyes. Our focus more than ever is about what happens next. As we find ourselves addressing questions such as these: Is Jesus an authority in my life?
Or, like the teachers of the law, do I scoff at his wisdom and power, questioning him?
Do I love God with my whole being?
Is Jesus coming back this year?
Could he come back this week?
What would that be like?
The questions we have to ask go so deep as to reveal the heart of our being, so deep as to reveal the nakedness of our soul which stands in need to be clothed as Paul says in Ephesians chapter 6, ‘in the full armour of God.’
In that week leading up to the cross Jesus felt the rollercoaster of the emotions of human life. He wrestled, just as we wrestle with the complexities, pressures and temptations. We do not know how we would have been if placed in his shoes. As we remember this week the quiet acceptance of human evil that was directed against him, the one who had done no evil and knew no hate. This Holy Week many are struggling as they or someone they know and love are falling or have fell victim to the coronavirus. Now more than ever the church need to be place of hope.