A Journey Through Holy Week – Wednesday

It’s Wednesday, April 1, AD 33. All seems quiet. It’s the calm before the storm; it’s the eye of the hurricane. Maybe the crisis could be avoided. Compromise may be an option between Jesus and the religious leaders. It’s not too late to have peace. Though few and seemingly insignificant, the events remind us again that the cross was not an accident but an appointment written down at the foundations of the world. Matthew and Mark both tell the story of the anointing at Bethany. On Wednesday, there is no public appearance or teaching of Jesus. However, while Jesus was quietly going through His day, Satan and His demons were working hard, planning on how to kill the promised seed from the Garden.

Judas is an interesting story. He had the same opportunities as all the other Twelve. He was in close proximity with Jesus and was even empowered to do miracles. He sat under Jesus’ teaching and even had his feet washed by the Messiah. Yet, he never understood all Jesus was doing and succumbed to the influence of Satan through compromise. He was living a double life. On the one hand, he was a disciple, and on the other hand, a thief (John 12:6). In times of distress and pressure, the true you will always surface. Judas may have considered himself a disciple, but he proved himself a pawn in Satan’s hand. But Judas going out from the Twelve proved he never really belonged to them (1 John 2:19).

In this light, we learn that Satan entered Judas (Luke 22:3), and he met with the chief officials to conspire with them to betray Jesus. As we consider the Passion Week, keep in mind that Jesus always knew Judas would betray Him. It was always part of God’s plan. You can see this well when comparing the Gospels to the Prophet Zechariah.  

‘Then I said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” So they weighed my wages, thirty pieces of silver. “Throw it to the potter,” the Lord said to me — this magnificent price I was valued by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw it into the house of the Lord, to the potter” (Zechariah 11:12-13).

Notice:

  1. They negotiated over the wage – In Luke’s account, we see where Judas goes to the chief priests and the officers and discusses with them how he might betray Jesus. Note, “They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented …” Luke 22:4-5a).
  2. They paid him 30 silver coins. “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you [negotiations]? So, they counted out for him thirty silver coins” (Matthew 26:15).
  3. Zechariah also said he took the thirty pieces and threw it into the house of the Lord. After Jesus was arrested, Judas became remorseful. According to Matthew 27:5 where did Judas throw the money? You guessed it, into the temple.
  4. Finally, notice the money is thrown into the house of the Lord, to the potter. Let’s continue with Matthew’s account. In 27:7, Scripture tells us the chief priest “decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field.”

Satan was not in control; God is sovereignly in control over all of history. Compromise with the world is never an option. Let me challenge you with this thought: Who are you when no one is looking? Are you Christlike in the secret place? Use these days to draw near to God. Prepare your heart to worship. 

 Wednesday is relatively quiet. But make no mistake, Jesus will die; Satan will be defeated. But just not on Wednesday. For a few more moments, “darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53). 

A Journey Through Holy Week – Tuesday

It is now Tuesday, March 31, AD 33. Jesus is a threat to the Jewish establishment. This young, uneducated Nazarene was threatening the very existence of the Jewish religion and way of life. He had to be stopped. Tuesday begins innocently enough. Matthew writes, “Jesus entered the temple courts” (Matthew 21:23). However, this placed Jesus on an inevitable collision course with the Jewish authorities.

Tuesday is marked by the Jewish religious authorities watching Jesus and trying to have him misspeak and thus trap Him and make His followers agree. The leaders ask unanswerable questions. Interestingly, in Matthew 21:23, the chief priests and elders approach Jesus to test Him. In 22:15, the Herodians join the Pharisees to test Jesus with a question they knew would trap Him. Nothing was working, so others approached Jesus. In 22:23, the Sadducees join the entrapment party. Nothing they did worked. Jesus would not incriminate Himself. The crowds were increasingly impressed with Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 22:33).

The religious leaders would not give up; too much was at stake for them. They lined up, one by one, to trap, trick, and topple the Son of Man. They would not give up. Lastly, they sent an expert of the law (Matthew 22:34). Jesus, an unqualified religious nut, would be no match to the expert. However, Jesus meets the expert head-on and answers with divine wisdom.

Finally, it was Jesus’ turn to ask a question. “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:41). Don’t miss how Jesus answers. He affirms His humanity as a son of David and His divinity as David’s Lord. Yet still, the leaders were so self-centered, hardened, and lost they missed the point Jesus was making. Jesus then proceeded to hammer the first nail of his crucifixion. He pronounced seven woes over the Jewish leaders. As if that were not enough, Jesus prophesied to his disciples the judgment of God and the destruction of the Temple that would come in AD 70. Toward the end of Tuesday, he tells his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2).  

Verse 2 of chapter 26 reminds me of a Divine Necessity. Sunday, our church will be looking at the resurrection story of Luke 24. In it, the angels remind a group of faithful women, “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.”  The Son of Man must be delivered, this is a Divine Necessity. It has often been said, the cross is not a human accident but a divine appointment. Jesus had to die; it was a divine necessity. And He had to die Passover weekend. As I see it, everything Jesus is doing is making sure the religious leaders hate him enough to kill Him. He could have run away, but instead, He remained steadfast and faithful even unto His death.

By the end of Tuesday, Jesus’ work as an antagonist was bearing fruit. Matthew writes, “Then the chief priest and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him” (Matthew 26:3-4). You know what Friday holds for Jesus. Make no mistake, Jesus, our Passover Lamb, also knew what Friday had for Him and He was going to great lengths to assure the cross becomes a reality for the Son of Man.