The Four Unusual Public Actions of Jesus in Holy Week marked the end of His three-and-a-half-year public ministry. Each of these four actions is not usual nor typical of Jesus’s public ministry. However, they are central to who He is and to His purpose in entering history. They form part of what makes Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday the most important eight days in human history. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends with the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ on Good Friday.
The sequence of the first Holy Week commenced with these four unusual public actions of Jesus, continued with Jesus’s private actions in instituting the Eucharist and having personal prayers with His disciples and culminated in Jesus’s virtual silence at His trial by Jewish and Roman authorities. This message focus on the Four Unusual Public Actions of Jesus. These four actions are captioned below.
Jesus Choreographed a Grand Entry into the Jerusalem on Palm Sunday: Luke 19:28-40
This grand entry is carefully planned and choreographed with a prearranged password for the release of a colt on which Jesus rode, leading a large crowd. In the ancient world this was symbolic of a King entering a city in peace. Jesus courageously led His grand entry through the front gate to Jerusalem knowing that the authorities plan to kill him. The commotion caused the whole city to be aware that He was there. Called to constrain His disciples’ claim of His Kingship, Jesus stated that if they did not rejoice in this claim, stones would. In ‘The Three Crowds of Holy Week’ I traced Jesus’s ambivalence with crowds. There was no ambivalence on Palm Sunday. Jesus took the emphatic and unusual action of leading this cheering crowd.
Jesus Cried at the Sight of Jerusalem: Luke 19:41-44
Joy turned to sorry as Jesus turned the corner coming down from Mt Olivet and saw Jerusalem. There is only one other record of Jesus crying. Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. Those were silent tears. Jesus’s tears over Jerusalem were audible. It was audible anguish over the insolent and impertinent city that had rejected prophets. It was audible anguish over the irreverent and ignorant men of the city, oblivious to the coming destruction resulting from their violent rejection of prophets and then Him, the Messiah. It was audible anguish over all who, by neglect or conscious decision, reject God’s way and His salvation. Jesus’s anguish and pain were public. They revealed the very heart of God toward unrepentant sinners.
Jesus Cleansed the Temple as the High Priest of the Order of Melchizedic: Luke 19:45-48
The Aaronic and Levitical Priesthood was nearing its end. It was a temporary type of atonement for sin. The shedding of the blood of bullocks, goats and doves could never permanently atone for disobedience to God. The once and for all sacrifice for sin is by God himself, arranged before the foundation of the world. The High Priest pleading for the redemption of sin would be the Lamb of God who was slain. The veil separating the Holy Place from the Holiest of Holies was about to be rent, allowing direct access to God by those cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb.
The Temple had replaced the Tabernacle. The Temple had become corrupted by High Priests, Chief Priests, Priests and Levites. A Cambio, owned by the High Priest, exploited foreigner worshippers. Priests and Levites were vendors They sold, at a premium, animals they determined fit for sacrifice. Levites enriched themselves at the expense of strangers, widows and orphans: an abomination in the sight of God. Jesus cleansed the Temple in order emphasize its purpose as a place of prayer. This was not gentle Jesus meek and mild. This was Jesus in righteous rage. An unusual sight.
Jesus Condemned the Mindset and Lifestyle that Typified Scribes and Pharisees: Mathew 23: 13 to 32
Jesus’s final unusual public act was an unequivocal denunciation and condemnation of the mindset and lifestyle of the two groups that were central of the theocracy that was Jerusalem: Scribes and Pharisees. Scribes were scholars who devoted themselves to learn Tora, the Laws of Moses. Pharisees were a sect that had voluntarily separated themselves to live Tora. What could be more exemplary than serving God by learning and living His precepts? Jesus did not condemn their knowledge but their mindset and lifestyle.
Jesus told the audience, listen to Scribes and Pharisees but do not live like them. They did not live what they taught or preached. Jesus called them hypocrites. They were always pretending; putting on a show; acting a part; wearing a mask; concealing anger, arrogance, envy and bitterness. They loved ostentation; delighted in wearing robes; demanded titles and presence on platforms; occupied front seats; basked in social recognition; and meticulously multiplied rules by meaningless distinctions. In so doing many Scribes had made learning their god and Pharisees had made self-righteousness their goal. Their lifestyle and learning had lost connection with God. Instead of leading people to God through their learning and lifestyle they led people to themselves. The outcome was religion devoid of relationship with God.
Jesus had some choice words for self-righteousness and knowledge that did not lead to God: missionaries of evil; going to great lengths to make people like themselves; tithing mints and cumin while ignoring justice, mercy, and faithfulness; elevating outward and ceremonial cleanliness but ignoring inward holiness and purity; appearing beautiful and righteous but being inwardly wicked; and condemning their forefathers for harming the prophets, claiming that they would have acted differently but being no different.
In affirming being King of Kings; in weeping as the compassionate but rejected Messiah; in exercising His authority as the High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek; and in stridently commending false religion Jesus took His affirmative public stand in Jerusalem for all to see and hear. The choice of the religious and secular authorities was not to repent but to arrest, charge, try, convict and crucify Him.
Oh, that we would hear and follow Jesus.