Every day during Holy Week this year, I will post a blog that simply walks through the events of that day from 2000 years ago and each of the 4 gospel writers' perspectives. All 4 gospel accounts will be woven together to form a single storyline. Check out the intro post that explains the Bible version I'm using and the format of the posts.
This is the mixed account from the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, of the Tuesday of Holy Week.
The next morning on the way back to Jerusalem, they passed a tree that had withered down to its very roots.
Peter (remembering): That’s the fig tree, Teacher, the one You cursed just yesterday morning. It’s withered away to nothing!
Jesus: Trust in God. If you do, honestly, you will be able to wither a fig tree with one glance. You will be able to say to this mountain, “Mountain, uproot yourself and throw yourself into the sea.” If you don’t doubt, but trust that what you say will take place, then it will happen. So listen to what I’m saying: Whatever you pray for or ask from God, believe that you’ll receive it and you will. When you pray, if you remember anyone who has wronged you, forgive him so that God above can also forgive you. If you don’t forgive others, don’t expect God’s forgiveness.
As they arrived in Jerusalem and were walking in the temple, the chief priests, scribes, and elders came to Jesus when He was teaching the people in the temple and proclaiming the good news,
Leaders: Tell us, who has given You the authority to say and do the things You’re saying and doing?
Jesus: I will answer your question if first you answer one of Mine: You saw John ritually cleansing people through baptism for the redemption of their sins. was his authority from heaven or was it merely human?
The priests, scribes, and elders huddled together to think through an answer.
Leaders (to themselves): If we say, “It must have been from heaven,” then Jesus will have us. He’ll ask, “Then why didn’t you listen to him and follow him?” But if we say, “John’s cleansing was merely human, all the people will stone us because they are convinced that John was a true prophet.
So they said they didn’t know where John’s ritual washing came from.
Jesus: Well then, if you won’t answer My question, don’t expect Me to tell you where I get the authority to say and do these things. But I will tell you a story, and you can tell Me what you make of it: There was a man who had two sons. He said to his first son,
Father: Go and work in the vineyard today.
First Son: No, I will not.
But later the first son changed his mind and went. Then the father went to his second son.
Father: Go and work in the vineyard today.
Second Son: Of course, Father.
But then he did not go. So which of the sons did what the father wanted?
Chief Priests and Elders (answering at once): The first.
Jesus: I tell you this: the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God ahead of you. John came to show you the straight path, the path to righteousness. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. Even as you saw the prostitutes and the tax collectors forgiven and washed clean, finding their footing on the straight path to righteousness, still you did not change your ways and believe.
Here is another story: A landowner planted a vineyard. He put up a wall around it to fence it in; he dug a pit for a winepress; he built a watchtower. When he had finished this work, he rented it to tenants and went for a long trip to another country. At the harvest time, he sent a servant to the tenants to collect his rent—his share of the fruit. But the farmers grabbed the slave, beat him, and sent him back to his master empty-handed. The owner sent another slave, and this slave the farmers beat over the head and treated him disgracefully and sent him away empty-handed too. He sent a third servant who was injured and thrown out. A third slave, the farmers killed. This went on for some time, with the farmers beating some of the messengers and killing others until the owner had lost all patience.Then the vineyard owner said, “Now what am I going to do? I’ll send my much-loved son. They should treat him with respect.”
But when the tenants recognized the owner’s son, they said, “Here’s our chance to actually own this vineyard! Let’s kill the owner’s heir so we can claim this place as our own!” So they threw him out of the vineyard and murdered him. What do you think the landowner will do when he comes and sees those tenants?
Chief Priests and Elders: He will eviscerate them, to be sure! Then he will rent the vineyard to other tenants who will pay him at harvesttime.
Crowd: No! God forbid that this should happen!
Jesus: Why then do the Hebrew Scriptures contain these words:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.
This is the work of the Eternal One,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Therefore, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to people who will tend its sweet fruit and who will give the Creator His due. He who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces, and he on whom the stone falls will be crushed.
And so the chief priests and the Pharisees, the teachers and the elders, knew that when Jesus told these stories He was speaking about them. Not believing, they looked for a way to arrest Him—a stealthy way, though. They were afraid to make too bold a move against Him because all the people believed He was a prophet.
Jesus went on speaking in parables.
Jesus: The kingdom of heaven is like a king whose son was getting married. The king organized a great feast, a huge wedding banquet. He invited everyone he knew. The day of the wedding arrived, and the king sent his servants into town to track down his guests—but when the servants approached them with the king’s message, they refused to come. So the king sent out another batch of servants.
King: Tell those people I’ve invited to come to the wedding banquet! Tell them I have prepared a great feast! Everything is ready! The oxen and fattened cattle have all been butchered, the wine is decanted, and the table is laid out just so.
And off the servants went, and they carried the king’s message to the errant guests—who still paid not a whit of attention. One guest headed into his field to work; another sat at his desk to attend to his accounts. The rest of the guests actually turned on the servants, brutalizing them and killing them. When he learned of this, the king was furious. He sent his army to kill the murderers and burn their towns. But there was, of course, still a wedding to celebrate.
King (to his remaining servants): The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited didn’t rise to the occasion. So go into the streets and invite anyone you see; invite everyone you meet.
And the servants did just that—they went into the streets and invited everyone they met, rich and poor, good and bad, high and low, sick and well. Everyone who was invited came, and the wedding hall practically burst with guests.
The king looked around the wedding party with glee, but he spotted one man who was not dressed appropriately. In fact, he was dressed rather plainly, in clothes not at all fitting for a fine nuptial feast.
King: Kind sir, how did you get in here without a proper suit of wedding clothes?
The man was speechless. He had been invited in off the street, after all! Getting no response, the king told his servants,
King: Tie him up, and throw him out into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and grinding of teeth.
For many are invited, but few are chosen.
The priests, scribes, temple leaders, and elders knew the story was directed against them. That was the last straw for the religious scholars and the chief priests; they were ready to attack Him right then and there. But they couldn’t because they were afraid the people would rise up against them. So they left Him alone, and they went away furious.
Then some Pharisees determined to trap this Jesus with His own words—hang Him by His own rope, you might say. They would keep Him under constant surveillance. They would send spies, pretending to ask sincere questions, listening for something they could seize upon that would justify His arrest and condemnation under the governor’s authority.
They sent a batch of students to Him, along with a group that was loyal to Herod.
Students: Teacher, we know You are a man of integrity and You tell the truth about the way of God. We know You don’t play favorites. You’re not worried about what anyone thinks of You, so You teach with total honesty what God would have us do. And that is why we trust You and want You to settle something for us: is it lawful that we Jews should pay taxes to Caesar’s occupying regime, or should we refuse?
Jesus (seeing through their ruse): Why do you test Me like this? You hypocrites! Why do you show up here with such a transparent trick? Bring Me a coin you would use to pay tax.
When they had brought it to Him, He asked them another question.
Jesus: Tell Me, whose picture is on this coin? And who owns this inscription?
Students: Caesar, of course.
Jesus: Then give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor. And give to God what belongs to God.
And those who had come hoping to trick Jesus were confounded and amazed. Once again they failed to humiliate Him in public or catch Him in a punishable offense. They could not think of anything to say to His response. And they left Him and went away.
That same day, Another group came to test Him—this time from the Sadducees, a rival party of the Pharisees, who, among other things, did not expect a resurrection or anticipate any sort of future life at all—put their own question to Jesus.
Sadducees: Teacher, the law of Moses tells us, “If a man’s brother dies, leaving a widow without sons, then the man should marry his sister-in-law and try to have children with her in his brother’s name.”
Now here’s the situation: there were seven brothers. The oldest took a wife and left her a widow with no children. So the next oldest married her, left her a widow, and again there were no children. So the next brother married her and died, and the next, and the next. Finally all seven brothers had married her, but none of them had conceived children with her. Finally the woman died too. Here’s our question: in the resurrection [when humans rise from the dead], whose wife will she be? Will she have seven husbands, since they were each married to her?
Jesus: You can’t see the truth because you don’t know the Scriptures well and because you don’t really believe that God is powerful. The answer is this: The children of this era marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain the resurrection of the dead in the coming era do not marry and are not given in marriage. They are beyond mortality; they are on the level of heavenly messengers; they are children of God and children of the resurrection.
Since you brought up the issue of resurrection, how can you fail to see the truth of resurrection? A key to this resurrected life can be found in the words of Moses, which you do claim to read: Don’t you remember in the Book of Moses in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are, in fact, raised. After all, he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” “I am,” God said. Not “I was.” So God is not the God of the dead but of the living. So all live to God. You are sadly mistaken.
And again the crowd was amazed. They were astonished at His teaching.
Religious Scholars: Teacher, that was a good answer.
After this no one had the courage to ask Him any more questions.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, a group of Pharisees met to consider new questions that might trip up Jesus. One of the scribes who studied and copied the Hebrew Scriptures overheard this conversation and was impressed by the way Jesus had answered.
Scribe: Tell me, Teacher. Of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?
Jesus: The most important commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Eternal One is our God, and the Eternal One is the only God. You should love the Eternal, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, “Love others in the same way you love yourself.” The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes. There are no commandments more important than these.
Scribe: Teacher, You have spoken the truth. For there is one God and only one God, and to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves are more important than any burnt offering or sacrifice we could ever give.
Jesus heard that the man had spoken with wisdom.
Jesus: Well said; if you understand that, then the kingdom of God is closer than you think.
Nobody asked Jesus any more questions after that.
Through this whole period of time, He taught in the temple each day. People would arrive at the temple early in the morning to listen. Then, at day’s end, He would leave the city and sleep on Mount Olivet.