We continue the consideration of the week leading up to the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Last week’s article described the cleansing of the Temple on Monday. Here we reflect upon the controversies that arose and the discourses that Jesus gave in those days just before the fulfillment of His saving mission.
On Tuesday and probably Wednesday as well, many leaders in Jerusalem confronted Jesus with difficult questions, such as whether they should pay taxes to the Roman government, how marriages on earth would be lived out in heaven, and what the greatest commandment is. Jesus responded by calling all people to a deeper understanding of the things of earth as preparing for the greater kingdom. Thus, He responded to the question about taxes by saying, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s,” recognizing an authority of the government in an earthly realm, but the sovereignty of God over all things including government officials. He spoke of marriage as a preparation on earth for the greater things of heaven, where all of human history comes together in the Resurrection. And He proclaimed the call of love for God and neighbor as the fulfillment of all law. This love is shown in even the smallest of actions, such as the poor widow’s contribution of two small coins, which Jesus praised highly because she made it with great faith and love. By contrast, Jesus warned about excessive trust in earthly powers, speaking of the coming destruction of the Temple and all of Jerusalem as an image that all powers of this earth will come to an end. He did not desire that destruction, and in fact wept over the impending doom of Jerusalem. But He both warned that death is the fate of all powers unless they are cleansed and transformed by Him who alone has conquered death.
In the modern world, this sacred wisdom is as important as it ever has been. The world relies much on great powers, whether political, economic, technological or in the media. And sometimes promoting the faith in the midst of such power may seem difficult. But Jesus tell us to put confidence in Him, knowing that He guides His people on earth through the storms of history and the crosses we bear, from Good Friday to the glory of Easter, on earth and in heaven.