Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Jesus seems to have continued teaching in the temple in Tuesday.  As mentioned in the discussion of Jesus’ temple teachings on Monday, the material falls into two major blocks, making it natural to treat the second block, the authorities’ attempts to catch Jesus in his words, on this second day. This day also seems to have been the occasion of Jesus’ powerful prophecies about the future.  

Both of these episodes signal the imminent shift from the kingly to the priestly phase of the Savior's last week.  Because the questioning of Jesus coincided with the priestly examination of the the paschal lambs that were to be sacrificed later in the week, it underscores that Jesus was the actual Lamb of God "who taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Likewise, his prophecy of his future return in glory makes clear that his actual reception as the True King of Israel lay in the future with his Second Coming, his first coming being focused instead on his great atoning work.

Gary Smith, Christ Laments over Jerusalem

Scriptural accounts for Tuesday: Mark 11:20–13:37; Matt 21:23–25:46; Luke 20:1–21:38; John 12:37–50

Episodes for Personal Study
  • Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree (Mark 11:20–26)
  • More Teachings in the Temple: Attempts to Trap Jesus in His Words (Mark 11:27–12:44; Matt 22:15–23:36; Luke 20:20–21:4)
  • Jesus’ Lament over Jerusalem in Matthew (Matt 23:37–39)
  • The Olivet Discourse or “Little Apocalypse” Concerning Jesus’ Prophecies Regarding the Last Days Before His Second Coming (Matthew 24:1–25:46; Mark 13:1–37; Luke 21:5–36. Because few events are recorded for Wednesday, parts of Tuesday’s Olivet Discourse can be read on Wednesday).
  • Summary of Jesus’ Teaching (Luke 21:37–38; John 12:37–50)

For Further Reading: Jo Ann Seely, "From Bethany to Gethsemane," in From the Last Supper to the Resurrection, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ 3, edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003), n.b. 51–56.

Kent P. Jackson, "The Olivet Discourse," in From the Transfiguration to the Triumphal Entry, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ 2, edited by Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006), 318–343.

Ideas for Families
  • Using the final lesson from the fig tree, talk about how things are possible with faith and why we should always forgive others.
  • Read Luke 20:45–47 and discuss why Jesus was unhappy with the scribes but pleased with the widow’s modest offering.
  • Discuss how the questioning of Jesus paralleled the examination of the lambs that were being selected for the Passover that year. How is he the true Lamb of God?
    • Listen to Handel's "Lamb of God"
  • Read Mark 13, the shortest version of the Mount of Olivet discourse and discuss why it would have reassured Jesus’ disciples once the Lord had been taken from them?  How could it have reassured them that Jesus would still be the rightful king even though he was rejected by his own people? How can we prepare for the Second Coming?
  • Sing "Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth" (hymn 269)
For lovely images and blocks of scripture quotations that nicely supplement what I am doing on this blog, please see the blog of my friend Chad Emmett, Beit Emmett, Holy Week: Tuesday.

Anglican collect of the day:
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Right: The verdant cross represents how the shameful means of Jesus' death, a dead tree of cursing, became through his sacrifice on it a New Tree of Life for us.

Brief Discussion of the Events of the Tuesday before Easter 
See the longer discussion in God So Loved the World, 27–37

This path along the Mount of Olives leads from Bethany to Jerusalem


On Tuesday Jesus returned to Jerusalem after having again spent the night in Bethany, presumably with Lazarus and his sisters. Crossing the Mount of Olives, according to the Marcan sequence, he saw the fig tree he had cursed for fruitlessness the day before and found that it was withered. As already noted, the literary result of "sandwiching" the cleansing of the temple between the cursing of the fig tree on Monday and the finding of the tree dead on Tuesday graphically illustrates that contemporary Israel was fruitless and warned that their similarly fruitless temple would be overthrown. The Matthean order, which can be taken to place the parables illustrating the rejection of Old Israel also on Monday, further underscores this fact, showing that the fault for the destruction of the temple would lie primarily at the feet of those who had usurped its control and had misused it. Yet rather than obsessing about the failing of the biblical chief priests and Pharisees, it is probably best, as always, to see how they most frequently represent our own failings.  As the prophet had declared, and as  a chorus of Handel's Messiah so vividly portrays, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord had laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6)

Nonetheless, the cursing of fig tree had also vividly revealed the power of Jesus over the natural world. When Peter then noted the demise of the tree, Jesus used his action as an opportunity to issue an exhortation for his disciples to have faith: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye shall receive them, and ye shall have them." Nevertheless, faith and prayer do not come without a cost: the Lord expects us to be Christlike in the exercise of our faith, forgiving all, even as he would do so notably later in the week.  


After drawing lessons from the withered tree, he spent the morning in the temple.  The second block of these teachings in Matthew, which also cover most of the material preserved in Mark and Luke, focus on attempts by the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees to trap Jesus in his words (22:15–40.  The following chart again reviews the Temple Teachings, here emphasizing the teachings that seem to have been delivered on Tuesday:


Authority of Jesus Questioned (21:23–27)
Old Israel Rejected (21:28–22:14)
  • Parable of the Two Sons (21:28–32) 
  • Parable of the Wicked Tenants (21:33–46) 
  • Parable of the Wedding Banquet (22:1–10) 
  • Parable of the Man Without a Wedding Garment (22:11–14)


Attempts to Trap Jesus in His Words (22:15–46) 
  • Question about Paying Taxes (22:15–22, Pharisees and Herodians) 
  • Question about the Resurrection (22:23–33, Sadducees)
  • Question about the Greatest Commandment (22:34–40, Pharisees) 
  • Question about David’s Son (22:41–46, Christ to the Pharisees)

Denunciation of the Leaders of Old Israel (23:1–36)
  • Hypocrisy of Scribes and Pharisees (23:1–12)
  • Seven Prophetic "Woes" (23:13–36)

  • Mark

    Exhortations (11:22–26)
    • On Faith (11:22–24) 
    • On Forgiveness (11:25–26)

    Six Interrogations in the Temple (11:27–12:37)

  • Jesus’ authority questioned (11:27–33)
  • Parable of the Wicked Tenants (12:1–12)
  • Question over paying taxes (12:13–17)
  • Questions about the resurrection (12:18–27)
  • The great commandments (12:28–34)
  • Question about David’s son (12:35–37)
  • The scribes and the widow (12:38–44, narrative)

    • Authority of Jesus Questioned (20:1–8)
    • Parable of the Wicked Tenants (20:9–19)
    • Question about Paying Tribute to Caesar (20:20–26)
    • Question about the Resurrection (20:27–40)
    • Question about David’s Son (20:41–44)
    • Jesus Denounces the Scribes (20:45–47)
    • The Widow’s Offering (21:1–4)

    Whether the question was about the paying of taxes to Rome, about the reality of the resurrection (particularly in the hypothetical case of a woman who had married seven successive men!), or concerning what was the greatest commandment of the law, Jesus gave responses that silenced his opponents.  Finally, he posed a question to them that proved impossible for them to answer:
    While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41–46)

    Their inability, or refusal, to answer this question about himself was followed by a scathing denunciation of the these leaders of Old Israel (23:1–36). 


    This verbal sparring about authority points back to the reality symbolized by Jesus’ earlier triumphal entry: he was the rightful king in Israel, while the chief priests and elders opposed to him were, in fact, usurpers who set themselves up in Jerusalem and in the temple as leaders of Israel. In the days between the selection of the Passover lambs five days before Passover and their sacrifice when the holiday began, the chosen animals were kept separate from the rest of the flocks (Exodus 12:3–6). Because the lambs were to be without blemish, in Jesus’ day the priests in the temple spent this time examining them carefully for fault. While this very examination of the paschal lambs was going on during Jesus’ last week, his opponents were, in fact, trying to find fault in him.

    MESSIAH Chorus for the Day: "Behold the Lamb of God"

    The examination of the paschal lambs in the temple early in the Savior's last week reminds us of the testimony of John the Baptist that Jesus was the Lamb of God and explains why Charles Jennens chose to begin Part II of Handel's Messiah, the Passion section, with a powerful quotation from John 1:29: 
    Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 
    Francisco de Zurbarán. Agnus Dei.

    This text is the subject of the opening chorus of Part II, a chorus that is incredible powerful even as it is pervasively sad, moving performers and audiences alike from the joy of the Promise that was the subject of Part I to the heaviness of Jesus' weighty atoning work 

    Frequently this verse is misquoted, people often reading, and singing, the plural "sins" instead of the scripture's singular "sin." In accordance with the high christology of the Gospel according to John, Jesus' work is about far more than redeeming us from our individual sins and transgressions. Rather it is about totally undoing the effects of the Fall, overcoming not only our mortal state but also the state of spiritual death that holds us captive. As Jacob in the Book of Mormon wrote, “O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit” (2 Nephi 9:10).

    This, then, is the cosmic Sin that holds us prisoner. This idea of the Sin of the world as a cosmic force, which is also found in the early letters of Paul, is analogous to the "weakness" of all men and women described in the Book of Mormon (see Jacob 4:7; Ether 12:26-27, which are also frequently misquoted in the plural). This weakness is perhaps best understood as our inability in our mortal state to do anything good or lasting without the grace of Christ. And this is the captivity and death for which Jesus, our Passover, came as a sacrifice.

    Panoramic view of the Mount of Olives from today's Old City Walls


    Leaving the temple, Jesus took his disciples to Mount of Olives, where he gave them a prophetic discourse that dealt with both the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and its temple and also focused on the destruction of "the world" at his second coming. The oldest and shortest version of this seems to be in Mark, where it is sometimes referred to as "The Little Apocalypse." Longer versions of this eschatological sermon are preserved by Matthew and Luke. The JST revision of Matthew 23:39–24:51 is an inspired expansion of part of the Olivet Discourse; it continues through 25:1–46 with parables about the last days.


    Prophesies: Warnings of Destruction (24:1–35)
    • Destruction of the Temple (24:1–2)
    • Signs of the End Time (24:3–8)
    • Persecutions Foretold (24:9–14)
    • Abomination of Desolation (24:15–28)
    • Parousia (Second Coming) Foreseen (24:29–31)
    • Lesson of the Fig Tree (24:32–35)
    Teachings: The Necessity for Watchfulness (24:36–25:46)

    • "But of That Day and Hour Knoweth No Man . . ." (24:36–44)
    • Parables of the Parousia (24:45–25:46)
      • Parable of the Faithful and Unfaithful Slave (24:45–51)
      • Parable of the Tens Bridesmaids (25:1–13)
      • Parable of the Talents (25:14–30)
      • Parable of the King's Division of the Sheep and the Goats (25:31–46)


    • Destruction of the Temple Foretold (13:1-8)
    • Persecution Foretold (13:9-13)
    • The "Abomination of Desolation" (13:14-23)
    • The Coming of the Son of Man (13:24-27)
    • Lesson of the Fig Tree (13:28-31)
    • "Watch ye therefore . . ." (13:32-37)


    Destruction of the Temple (21:5–6)
    Deceptive Signs of the End (21:7–11)
    Persecution of the Disciples (21:12–19)
    Destruction of Jerusalem (21:20–24)
    The Coming of the Son of Man (21:25–36)
    • Parable of the Fig Tree (21:29–33)
    • Be Prepared (21:34–36)

    Preparing for the Second Coming

    "Some of the parables that Matthew records and that Jesus delivered as part of his Olivet Discourse—such as the ten virgins and their lamps or the servants and the talents they were given—are some of the best known of Jesus’ teachings. Reading them in the context of his prophecies about the end of the world, however, makes them clearly parables of preparation. To be on his right hand with his “sheep” rather than at his left hand with the “goats” at his return, we must prepare ourselves now.

    "Regarding this preparation, Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught, “While we are powerless to alter the fact of the Second Coming and unable to know its exact time, we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the preparation of those around us.” Regarding the parable of the ten bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1–13), Elder Oaks further observed that “the arithmetic of this parable is chilling.” Because they were invited to the wedding, the
    ten virgins represent members of the Church, and only half of them were ready when the Bridegroom came.

    As I read Jesus’ admonitions to us in the Olivet Discourse as part of my yearly Easter preparations, my joy at the prospect of the return of my King turns to a sober sense of responsibility. His appearance in glory will be “the great and the terrible day of the Lord” (Joel 2:31): welcome and great to his Saints who are ready to meet him, and fearful and terrible to those who are not. The signs of the times that the discourse includes certainly
    lead us to make physical preparations, but we should not wait until we think the Second Coming is about to occur to prepare, because for each of us, tomorrow or even today could be our last day. Accordingly, Elder Oaks warned: “What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? If we knew that we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or through His unexpected coming—what would we do today? . . . We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult—the spiritual.”

    In the end, our judgment will be of our works and our hearts, and the best preparation that we can make for the Second Coming is to have faith in Jesus as the Christ—our anointed Prophet, Priest, and King—and then allow that faith to bear fruit in our lives as repentance, obedience to his gospel and its ordinances, and good works. The message of Easter week is that our King has made it possible for us to be found spotless and pure, with our lamps burning brightly at that last day." (God So Loved the World, 37)
    Rachel and I at the Pater Noster Church on the Mount of Olives, the traditional site of the Olivet Discourse


    The Lord’s private teaching to his closest disciples about his Second Coming was once again a natural result of the events of Palm Sunday. He had entered Jerusalem, seemingly as a recognized Messiah, and many of them may have expected him to take the throne as king. Peter and others of the Twelve had earlier obtained powerful witnesses that he was the Messiah, the true Son of God, but while they understood correctly who Jesus was, they still did not correctly understand what he had come to do. Three times on the road to Jerusalem he had prophesied in the so-called "Passion Predictions" that he would go to Jerusalem to suffer and die (see, for instance, Matthew 16:21–23, 17:22–23, and 20:17–19), and each time they had failed to understand.
    Harry Anderson, Second Coming

    Now, perhaps understanding how confused, terrified, and heart-broken they would be at the end of the week when their Master was taken, tortured, and cruelly slain, he sought to reassure them by pointing their minds forward to that future time when he would, in fact, come in glory as king of all the earth.

    And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30–31)

    The occasion of their reassurance has, in turn, provided us with a helpful road map to prepare us in the Last Days, which also fills us with hope and anticipation as we look forward to his return.  As we look for the return of our King and the establishment of his millennial reign, the words of hymn 269 reflect our united wish:

    Jehovah, Lord of heav'n and earth, thy word of truth proclaim!  Oh may it spread from pole to pole, till all shall know thy name . . . Roll on thy work in all its power, the distant nations bring!  In thy new kingdom may they stand, and own thee God and King.


    Luke summarizes Jesus’ teaching in the early part of the week by writing simply:
    And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him. (Luke 21:37–38)
    As usual, the material from John is not easily placed in a particular chronological position during the week. These passages are placed here on Tuesday for convenience, but they likewise summarize the reaction of both the people and the leaders to Jesus:
    But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him . . . Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:37–43)
    John, however, closes Jesus’ temple ministry with a powerful testimony of who the Savior is, however, and he further stresses the responsibility of each person to accept or reject him . . . something for us to think about as we review our discipleship this week and consider how strong our faith in Jesus is.
    Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.  And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.  I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:44–48)

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