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Monday, 31 October 2011

Day 305: Jesus’ authority

Jesus goes berserk.  
Second cleansing of the Temple
Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48
Cursing of the fig tree
Matthew 21:18-19, Mark 11:12-14
The fig tree withers
Matthew 21:20-22, Mark 11:20-25
Jesus’ authority is challenged
Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 2-:1-8
The parable of the two sons
Matthew 21:28-32
The parable of the wicked tenants
Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19

Jesus makes an incredibly clear demonstration of his antipathy to the Jewish authorities. He accuses them of making money out of Temple worship, of excluding the marginalised, of saying with their mouths that they are faithful, but not backing it up with their deeds, of consistently disobeying and flouting God’s laws, to the extent that God will come and tear their precious Temple away from them and give it to others.
We all know about the cleansing of the Temple, and how Jesus was incensed at the buying and selling going on in the outer court, where Gentiles and god-fearers would be trying to pray. But what follows is equally meaningful - the cursing of the fig tree is an acted parable - God is fed up with waiting for his people to produce fruit, and after being challenged about his authority, Jesus tells two parables that are very very pointed and very very aimed squarely at the religious status quo. I can’t see the leaders taking this lying down. It’s now only the protecting crowds that are keeping Jesus from being arrested - the authorities will have him as soon as they can get him on his own.

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