There are many sad verses that accompany Holy Week scripture passages. The beginning of the week usually doesn’t get much attention, even though there is literally a ton of activity and dialogue and teaching surrounding Jesus. And all of it is so important because it tells the story of how things turn on Jesus throughout the week.
Today I want to highlight one of these verses – Matthew 22:46.
No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.
(Source: NRSV bible)
Throughout the day, Jesus spent time in the Temple in Jerusalem, teaching and talking. We’re told in Matthew 21:45-46 that
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.
They had to shame Jesus to turn the crowds. They had to discredit him. They had to show that he was a threat to the people. How? Well, one way would be to show that if Jesus was a threat to the Roman empire, the empire would come down on everyone. Hence, people would die. They were essentially saying to the people – you want your prophet and the death that comes with it from Rome, or would you rather be alive and have the status quo?
The Pharisees gave it a shot and it didn’t work. The Sadducees, not to be outdone, tried. Failure. And finally the Pharisees, lead by a lawyer, tried one last time.
And when those attempts failed, discussion ended. The break of the relationship was complete. There would be no reconciliation. No more discussion. Only war. Only death. There were no other options. Jesus simply wouldn’t comply. Or seen from another angle – they weren’t open to other possibilities or to listening and learning. Too much was at stake. When you are leadership in the status quo, you have everything to lose. When you are leadership in the status quo, there is no incentive to change. You must grasp onto all that you have.
And when those who are attempting to upset the status quo gain some traction, look out. The status quo will turn violent, will stop talking when the “other” can’t be reasoned with to maintain the status quo.
On this Tuesday of Holy Week, I can’t help but think – How is Jesus upsetting the status quo today? In our world? In our church? In our lives?
And how are we reacting? Have we shut down communication with Jesus because he’s not doing things our way? Because he’s calling on us to do things differently – not the way they’ve always been done?
Are we angry with Jesus because he just won’t stay up on the altar and stick to the text?
Are be upset because Jesus calls up to pray for and to love our enemies? How dare he! Doesn’t he know we are “in” and they are “out”!
Are we mad as hell because Jesus demands loyalty to him and to the Father’s reign over all else – even the flag that is in the sanctuary? Or maybe we just shouldn’t bring that up – it might upset people. It might make us consider that God and country are not one and the same. That might be unnerving to us.
On this Tuesday of Holy Week, we see a transition taking place. It’s ultimately a transition of who Jesus is. Or rather, recognition of what Jesus is actually calling for. It’s far different from what the crowds wanted. It’s a far cry from what the leaders of the Temple wanted too. Yet, it’s what Jesus wanted. How will we respond?