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 Wednesday of Holy Week.
Later Jesus was teaching in the temple. Since the Pharisees were gathered together there, Jesus took the opportunity to pose a question of His own.
Jesus: What do you think about the Anointed One? Whose Son is He?
Pharisees: But, of course, He is the Son of David.
Jesus: Then how is it that David—whose words were surely shaped by the Spirit—calls Him “Lord”? Don’t you remember how David himself wrote in the psalms,
The Master said to my master:
“Sit here at My right hand,
in the place of honor and power.
And I will gather Your enemies together,
lead them in on hands and knees,
and You will rest Your feet on their backs.”
If David calls Him “Master,” how can He be his son?
No one had an answer to Jesus’ question. And from that day forward, no one asked Him anything.
The crowd listened to Him with delight. Jesus spoke to His disciples and to the crowds that had gathered around.
Jesus: Beware of the religious scholars. Watch out for the scribes who occupy the seat of Moses. So you should do the things they tell you to do—but don’t do the things they do. They heap heavy burdens upon their neighbors’ backs, and they prove unwilling to do anything to help shoulder the load. They are interested, above all, in presentation: they wrap their heads and arms in the accoutrements of prayer, they cloak themselves with flowing tasseled prayer garments, they act so religious. They like to parade around in long robes. They love being greeted in the marketplaces. They love taking the best seats of honor at fine banquets and in the synagogue, and they love it when people recognize them in the marketplace, call them “Teacher,” and beam at them. But in their greed they rob widows of their houses and cover up their greed with long pretentious prayers. Their condemnation will be all the worse because of their hypocrisy.
But you: do not let anyone call you “Rabbi,” that is, “Teacher.” For you are all brothers, and you have only one teacher, the Anointed One. Indeed, do not call anyone on earth “Father,” for you have only one father, and He is in heaven. Neither let anyone call you “leader,” for you have one leader—the Anointed One. If you are recognized at all, let it be for your service. Delight in the one who calls you servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees. There is such a gulf between what you say and what you do. You will stand before a crowd and lock the door of the kingdom of heaven right in front of everyone; you won’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from doing so.
Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees. What you say is not what you do. You steal the homes from under the widows while you pretend to pray for them. You will suffer great condemnation for this.
Woe to you Pharisees, woe to you who teach the law, hypocrites! You traverse hills and mountains and seas to make one convert, and then when he does convert, you make him much more a son of hell than you are.
Woe to you who are blind but deign to lead others. You say, “Swearing by the temple means nothing, but he who swears by the gold in the temple is bound by his oath.” Are you fools? You must be blind! For which is greater: the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, “Swearing by the altar means nothing, but he who swears by the sacrifice on the altar is bound by his oath.” You must be blind! Which is greater: the sacrifice or the altar that makes it sacred? So anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by the sacrifices and gifts laid upon it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the God who sanctifies it. And when you swear by heaven, you are swearing by God’s throne and by Him who sits upon it.
So woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees. You hypocrites! You tithe from your luxuries and your spices, giving away a tenth of your mint, your dill, and your cumin. But you have ignored the essentials of the law: justice, mercy, faithfulness. It is practice of the latter that makes sense of the former. You hypocritical, blind leaders. You spoon a fly from your soup and swallow a camel.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You remove fine layers of film and dust from the outside of a cup or bowl, but you leave the inside full of greed and covetousness and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee—can’t you see that if you clean the inside of the cup, the outside will be clean too?
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like a grave that has been whitewashed. You look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside you are full of moldering bones and decaying rot. You appear, at first blush, to be righteous, selfless, and pure; but on the inside you are polluted, sunk in hypocrisy and confusion and lawlessness.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build monuments to your dead, you mouth pieties over the bodies of prophets, you decorate the graves of your righteous ancestors. And you say, “If we had lived when our forefathers lived, we would have known better—we would not have joined them when they rose up against the prophets.” Even when you are preening, you make plain that you descended from those who murdered our prophets. So why don’t you finish what your forefathers started? You are children of vipers, you belly-dragging snakes. You won’t escape the judgment of hell.
That is why I am sending you prophets and wise men, teachers of breadth and depth and substance. You will kill some of them and crucify others. You will flog others in your synagogues. You will pursue them from town to town. And on your heads, stained through your hands and drenching your clothes, my friends, will be all the righteous blood ever shed on this earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berechiah whom you murdered in the house of the Lord between the sanctuary and the altar. I tell you: this generation will bear the blood of all that has gone before.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. You kill the prophets whom God gives you; you stone those God sends you. I have longed to gather your children the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you refuse to be gathered. Surely you can see that God has already removed His blessing from the house of Israel. I tell you this: you will not see Me again until you say, with the psalmist, “Anyone who comes in the name of the Eternal One will be blessed.”
Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, where people came to bring their offerings, and He watched as they came and went. Many rich people threw in large sums of money, but a poor widow came and put in only two small coins worth only a fraction of a cent.
Jesus (calling His disciples together): Truly this widow has given a greater gift than all of those rich fellows. They’re just giving from their surplus, but she is giving from her poverty—she’s giving all she has to give.
As Jesus left the temple later that day, His disciples came up to Him and asked what He thought about the temple’s opulence—the precious stones and expensive decorations.
Disciple: Teacher, I can’t believe the size of these stones! Look at these magnificent buildings!
But Jesus countered their observations.
Jesus: Go ahead, look around, and be impressed; but days are coming when one stone will not be left standing on another. Everything here will be demolished.
They took a seat on the Mount of Olives, across the valley from the temple; and Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Jesus to explain His statement to them privately.
Peter, James, John, and Andrew: Don’t keep us in the dark. When will the temple be destroyed? What sign will let us know that it’s about to happen? How will we know that the end of the age is upon us?
Jesus: Be careful. It’s easy to be deceived. For many will come in My name claiming they are the Anointed One. They’ll shout, “I’m the One!” or “The time is now!” And they will fool lots of people. Don’t take a step in their direction. You’ll hear about wars and conflicts, but you should not panic. It is inevitable, this violent breaking apart of the sinful world, but remember, the wars are not the end. The end is still unfolding. You can count on this: nation will attack nation, and kingdom will make war on kingdom. There will be disturbances around the world—from great earthquakes to famines to epidemics. Terrifying things will happen, and there will be shocking signs from heaven. But these are not the end. These are the birth pangs, the beginning. The end is still unfolding.
But before any of this happens, they will capture you and persecute you. You will be delivered to trial and beaten in the places of worship. Kings and governors will stand in judgment over you as you speak in My name. This will be your opportunity—your opportunity to tell your story. The good news of the coming kingdom of God must be delivered first in every land and every language. When people bring you up on charges and it is your time to defend yourself, don’t worry about what message you’ll deliver. Make up your mind in advance not to plan your strategy for answering their questions. Whatever comes to your mind, speak it, because the Holy Spirit will inspire it. I will give you the words to say—wise words—which none of your adversaries will be able to answer or argue against.
But it will get worse. Brothers will betray each other to death, and fathers will betray their children. Your own parents, brothers, relatives, and friends will turn on you and turn you in. Some of you will be killed, and all of you will be hated by everyone because of your allegiance to Me. And many who have followed Me and claimed to love Me and sought God’s kingdom will turn away—they will abandon the faith and betray and hate one another. The love that they had for one another will grow cold because few will obey the law. False prophets will appear, many will be taken in by them, and the only thing that will grow is wickedness. There will be no end to the increase of wickedness.
But if you’re faithful until the end, you will be rescued. Not a single hair of your heads will be harmed. By enduring all of these things, you will find not loss but gain—not death but authentic life. And this good news of God’s kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, a testimony to all people and all nations. Then, beloved, the end, the consummation of all things, will come.
Here’s how you will know that the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple is imminent: Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies. You will remember that the prophet Daniel predicted this—predicted the abomination that causes desolation—when you see the prophesied desolation of the holy place. (Reader, take notice; it is important that you understand this.) When you see this, if you’re in Judea, flee to the mountains; and if you’re inside the city, escape; and if you’re outside the city, stay there—don’t enter. If you are relaxing on your rooftop one evening and the signs of the temple’s destructions come, don’t return to your house to rescue a book or a pet or a scrap of clothing. If you are in the field when the great destruction begins, don’t return home for a coat. Because the time has come for the promised judgment to fall. How sad it will be for all the pregnant women, for all the nursing mothers in those days! All the land of Israel and all her people will feel the distress, the anger, falling on them like rain. The sword will cut some down, the outsider nations will take others captive, and this holy city, this Jerusalem, will be trampled upon by the outsiders until their times are fulfilled.
And as for you, pray that your flight to the hills will not come on the Sabbath. And pray that you don’t have to run for your lives in the winter. When those days come, there will be suffering like nobody has seen from the beginning of the world that God created until now, and it never will be like this again. Indeed the Lord God your merciful judge will cut this time of trial short for the sake of the ones He has chosen, that some might indeed be saved—for no one could survive the depravity for very long.
I cannot say this clearly enough: during this time, someone will say to you, “Look, here is the Anointed One!” or “Aren’t you relieved? Haven’t you seen the Savior down there, around the bend, over the hill and dale?” Do not believe them. False liberators and false prophets will pop up like weeds, and they will know a few tricks—they will perform great miracles, and they will make great promises that would entice even God’s chosen people, if that were possible. So be alert. I am warning you ahead of time: remember—do not fall for their lies or lines or promises. If someone says, “He’s out there in the desert”—do not go. And if someone says, “He’s here at our house, at our table”—do not believe him. When the Son of Man comes, He will be as visible as lightning in the East is visible even in the West. And where the carcass is, there will always be vultures.
As Isaiah said in the days after that great suffering,
There will be earth-shattering events—the heavens themselves will seem to be shaken with signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars. The sun will refuse to shine, and the moon will hold back its light. The stars in heaven will fall. And across the earth the outsider nations will feel powerless and terrified in the face of a roaring flood of fear and foreboding, crashing like tidal waves upon them. “What’s happening to the world?” people will wonder. The cosmic order will be destabilized.
Then you will see (as Daniel predicted), the Son of Man will appear in the sky. All the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming; they will see Him powerful and glorious, riding on chariots of clouds in the sky. 31 With a loud trumpet call, He will send out battalions of heavenly messengers; and they will gather His beloved faithful elect from the four corners of creation, from one end of heaven to the other.
So when the troubles begin, don’t be afraid. Look up—raise your head high, because the truth is that your liberation is fast approaching.
(continuing with a parable) Learn this lesson from the fig tree: When its branch is new and tender and the leaves break out of their buds, nobody has to tell you that summer is approaching; it’s obvious to you. It’s the same in the larger scheme of things. When you see the wars and the suffering and the false liberators and the desolations, you will know the Son of Man is near—right at the door. You can be confident that the kingdom of God is approaching.
It’s true—this generation will not pass away before all these things have happened. My words are always true and always here with you. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. Take heed: no one knows the day or hour when the end is coming. The messengers in heaven don’t know, nor does the Son. Only the Father knows.
As it was at the time of Noah, so it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. In the days before the flood, people were busy making lives for themselves: they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, making plans and having children and growing old, until the day Noah entered the ark. Those people had no idea what was coming; they knew nothing about the floods until the floods were upon them, sweeping them all away. That is how it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be plowing a field: one will be taken, and the other will be left in the field. Two women will be somewhere grinding at a mill: one will be taken, and the other will be left at the mill.
So be alert. Watch for it [and pray.] Guard your hearts. They can be made heavy with moral laxity, with drunkenness, with the hassles of daily life. Then the day I’ve been telling you about might catch you unaware and trap you. Because it’s coming—nobody on earth will escape it. So you have to stay alert, praying that you’ll be able to escape the coming trials so you can stand tall in the presence of the Son of Man. So keep watch. You don’t know when your Lord will come.
This situation is like a man who went on a journey; when he departed, he left his servants in charge of the house. Each of them had his own job to do; and the man left the porter to stand at the door, watching. So stay awake, because no one knows when the master of the house is coming back. It could be in the evening or at midnight or when the rooster crows or in the morning. Stay awake; be alert so that when he suddenly returns, the master won’t find you sleeping.
The teaching I am giving the four of you now is for everyone who will follow Me: stay awake, and keep your eyes open.
But you should know this: If the owner of a house had known his house was about to be broken into, he would have stayed up all night, vigilantly. He would have kept watch, and he would have thwarted the thief. So you must be ready because you know the Son of Man will come, but you can’t know precisely when.
The trustworthy servant is the one whom the master puts in charge of all the servants of his household; it is the trustworthy servant who not only oversees all the work, but also ensures the servants are properly fed and cared for. And it is, of course, crucial that a servant who is given such responsibility performs his responsibility to his master’s standards—so when the master returns he finds his trust has been rewarded. For then the master will put that good servant in charge of all his possessions. But imagine that the master’s trust was misplaced, that the supposedly responsible servant is actually a thief who says to himself, “My master has been gone so long, he is not possibly coming back.” Then he beats his fellow servants and dines and drinks with drunkards. Well, when the master returns—as certainly he will—the servant will be caught unawares. The master will return on a day and at an hour when he isn’t expected. And he will cut his worthless servant into pieces and throw him out into darkness with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and grinding of teeth.
Or picture the kingdom of heaven this way. It will be like ten bridesmaids who each picked up a lantern and went out to meet a certain bridegroom. Five of these women were sensible, good with details, and remembered to bring small flasks of oil for their lanterns. But five of them were flighty, too caught up in the excitement of their jaunt, and forgot to bring oil with them. The bridegroom did not turn up right away. Indeed, all the women, while waiting, found themselves falling asleep. And then in the middle of the night, they heard someone call, “The bridegroom is here, finally! Wake up and greet him!” The women got up and trimmed the wicks of their lanterns and prepared to go greet the groom. The five women who had no oil turned to their friends for help.
Ill-prepared Bridesmaids: Please give us some of your oil! Our lanterns are flickering and will go out soon.
But the five women who’d come prepared with oil said they didn’t have enough.
Prepared Bridesmaids: If we give you some of our oil, we’ll all run out too soon! You’d better go wake up a dealer and buy your own supply.
So the five ill-prepared women went in search of oil to buy, and while they were gone, the groom arrived. The five who stood ready with their lanterns accompanied him to the wedding party, and after they arrived, the door was shut.
Finally the rest of the women turned up at the party. They knocked on the door.
Ill-prepared Bridesmaids: Master, open up and let us in!
Bridegroom (refusing): I certainly don’t know you.
So stay awake; you neither know the day nor hour [when the Son of Man will come].
This is how it will be. It will be like a landowner who is going on a trip. He instructed his slaves about caring for his property. He gave five talents to one slave, two to the next, and then one talent to the last slave—each according to his ability. Then the man left.
Promptly the man who had been given five talents went out and bartered and sold and turned his five talents into ten. And the one who had received two talents went to the market and turned his two into four. And the slave who had received just one talent? He dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money there.
Eventually the master came back from his travels, found his slaves, and settled up with them. The slave who had been given five talents came forward and told his master how he’d turned five into ten; then he handed the whole lot over to his master.
Master: Excellent. You’ve proved yourself not only clever but loyal. You’ve executed a rather small task masterfully, so now I am going to put you in charge of something larger. But before you go back to work, come join my great feast and celebration.
Then the slave who had been given two talents came forward and told his master how he’d turned two into four, and he handed all four talents to his master.
Master: Excellent. You’ve proved yourself not only clever but loyal. You’ve executed a rather small task masterfully, so now I am going to put you in charge of something larger. But before you go back to work, come join my great feast and celebration.
Finally the man who had been given one talent came forward.
Servant: Master, I know you are a hard man, difficult in every way. You can make a healthy sum when others would fail. You profit when other people are doing the work. You grow rich on the backs of others. So I was afraid, dug a hole, and hid the talent in the ground. Here it is. You can have it.
The master was furious.
Master: You are a pathetic excuse for a servant! You have disproved my trust in you and squandered my generosity. You know I always make a profit! You could have at least put this talent in the bank; then I could have earned a little interest on it! Take that one talent away, and give it to the servant who doubled my money from five to ten.
You see, everything was taken away from the man who had nothing, but the man who had something got even more. And as for the slave who made no profit but buried his talent in the ground? His master ordered his slaves to tie him up and throw him outside into the utter darkness where there is miserable mourning and great fear.
When the Son of Man comes in all His majesty accompanied by throngs of heavenly messengers, His throne will be wondrous. All the nations will assemble before Him, and He will judge them, distinguishing them from one another as a shepherd isolates the sheep from the goats. He will put some, the sheep, at His right hand and some, the goats, at His left. Then the King will say to those to His right,
King: Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink. I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives. I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.
Righteous: Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find You naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?
King: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
At that He will turn to those on His left hand.
King: Get away from Me, you despised people whom My Father has cursed. Claim your inheritance—the pits of flaming hell where the devil and his minions suffer. For I was starving, and you left Me with no food. When I was dry and thirsty, you left Me to struggle with nothing to drink. When I was alone as a stranger, you turned away from Me. When I was pitifully naked, you left Me unclothed. When I was sick, you gave Me no care. When I was in prison, you did not comfort Me.
Unrighteous: Master, when did we see You hungry and thirsty? When did we see You friendless or homeless or excluded? When did we see You without clothes? When did we see You sick or in jail? When did we see You in distress and fail to respond?
King: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.
So these, the goats, will go off to everlasting punishment. But the beloved, the sheep (the righteous), will go into everlasting life.
And so this is what happened, finally. Jesus finished all His teaching, and He said to His disciples,
Jesus: The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins in two days. That is when the Son of Man is handed over to be crucified.
And almost as He spoke, The Jewish leaders—the chief priests and the scribes—gathered together with the elders at the home of the high priest, Caiaphas. They schemed and mused about how they could trick Jesus, sneak around and capture Him, and then kill Him.
Chief Priests: We shouldn’t try to catch Him at the great public festival. It might create an uproar. The people would riot if they knew what we were doing.
Meanwhile Jesus was at Bethany staying at the home of Simon the leper. While He was at Simon’s house, a woman came to see Him. She had an alabaster flask of very valuable ointment with her, and as Jesus reclined at the table, She came to Jesus, broke the jar, and gently poured out the perfume onto His head and anointed Jesus’ feet with it; and then she wiped them with her hair. As the pleasant fragrance of this extravagant ointment filled the entire house, some of those around the table were troubled by this and grumbled to each other.
Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (who was plotting to betray Jesus), began to speak.
Judas Iscariot: How could she pour out this vast amount of fine oil? Why didn’t she sell it? It is worth nearly a year’s wages; the money could have been given to the poor.
This had nothing to do with Judas’s desire to help the poor. The truth is he served as the treasurer, and he helped himself to the money from the common pot at every opportunity.
Jesus knew what the disciples were saying among themselves, so He took them to task.
Jesus: Leave her alone. Why are you attacking her? She has done a good thing. It is good that you are concerned about the poor, but the poor will always be with you—I will not be. She has done what she could for Me. In pouring this ointment on My body, she has prepared Me for My burial. I tell you this: the good news of the kingdom of God will be spread all over the world, and wherever the good news travels, people will tell the story of this woman and her good discipleship. And people will remember her.
At this point, Satan entered into one of the twelve, Judas (also called Iscariot). Judas set up a private meeting with the chief priests and the captains of the temple police to discuss a plan for betraying Jesus and putting Him in their hands.
Judas Iscariot: What will you give me to turn Him over to you?
This was just the kind of break they had been waiting for, so they were thrilled and offered him 30 pieces of silver. Everything was settled, and Judas simply waited for the right moment, when the crowds weren’t around, to betray Jesus into their custody.