The Tuesday of Holy Week was filled with drama.
If Monday’s arrival in the temple was marked by Jesus’ living parable of cleansing God’s house, Tuesday’s entrance was marked by a direct, verbal confrontation from the religious leadership, the Sanhedrin. They demanded to know who gave Jesus the right to behave as He has in their temple (Mark 11:27-33).
This entire confrontation was an attempt to put Jesus in His place by forcing Him to yield to the Sanhedrin’s authority. But when they tried, they failed. Jesus asked smarter questions and gave clearer answers than they did (Matthew 21:23-27). When they tried to question His motives, He exposed their hearts. When they attempted to intimidate Him by coming to Him in numbers, He never showed the slightest sign of backing down. They tried to discredit His ministry, but there were people walking around in the temple who, only days earlier, had been blind and lame (Matthew 21:14).
Jesus had literally turned the tables on the Sanhedrin the day before (Matthew 21:12), but today He had done it again—only this time with further-reaching implications. When they demanded that He submit to their authority, He exposed them as liars. If they had no integrity, they held no real authority.
This forced the religious leaders’ hand. If they wanted to contain Jesus’ influence among the people, they would have to rely on more than warnings and bravado. They would have to remove Him—because it was clear that He would not yield.
After Jesus ended the confrontation on Tuesday by refusing to regard these leaders as having any authority over Him, He elected to spend the rest of the day right there in the temple—His Father’s house—so that He might teach the people the Word of God (Matthew 21:28-23:39). Consider for a moment the strength and resolve that standing His ground would have required.
But Tuesday afternoon would be the last time Jesus would publicly teach in the temple as a free man. His words on that day would be His closing argument—His manifesto.
When Jesus left the temple that Tuesday, the chief priests and the scribes sought how to arrest Him by stealth and kill Him (Mark 14:1). They knew they couldn’t take His life from Him solely on the strength of the charges they meant to bring—not if He defended Himself, anyway.
But He would not. Instead, by His silence, He would offer up His life for a world of blasphemers, traitors, and liars who so desperately needed to be opposed and upset. This was what Jesus had come to do.
As He left the temple that Tuesday afternoon, He knew it would happen soon.
written by Russ Ramsey
adapted from Behold the King of Glory