The Bible accounts of Holy Tuesday are found in Matthew 21:23; 24:1-51, Mark 11:20-25; 27-33, 13:37, Luke 20:1; 21:36, and John 12:20-38.

As Jesus and his disciples headed back towards Jerusalem they came across the fig tree that Jesus had cursed the previous morning:

Mark 11:20-25:
The Lessons from the Withered Fig Tree

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[b] it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”[c]

Notice that Jesus uses the withered fig tree as an example of what ‘faith’ can do. Obviously the disciples were amazed at this demonstration of Jesus’ power over nature. Most English translations have Jesus saying in verse 22: “Have faith in God,” with God as the object of faith, but the emphasis is far different in the original Greek: “Exete piston Theou.” Literally word for word says: “Have faith God’s” or in better English- “Have God’s faith.” In Greek, ‘God’ is in the genitive tense, what we would say in English as in the possessive. God is not the object of faith but the possessor of it. So if you are going to move mountains you need to have God’s faith. Where can you get that kind of Faith? Only from God—it takes his kind of supernatural faith to move mountain or even to destroy fig trees at one’s declared word.

Jesus continues the lesson by instructing his disciples that if they want that kind of supernatural God kind of faith then they are going to have to pray for it. In the process, Jesus teaches them that if they are going to pray for miracles, then they have to live a life of forgiveness. That teaching reflects what Matthew recorded in Matthew 6:14-15. Later in the week Jesus would demonstrate how radical and complete his ‘forgiveness’ teaching is by personally forgiving every one who was killing him from the cross.

As they entered the temple, Jesus was immediately confronted by the temple leaders over his actions of the clearing the temple of commerce the previous day. They were implying that Jesus had no authority to do what he had done. But Jesus sends the challenge back at them by asking if  they considered whether John’s baptism (John the Baptist) was from God. They refused to answer because John had challenged their authority and they did not accept his ministry but nearly every one in Israel, but them, considered John to be a prophet of God. In the end, during his teaching that day, it is Jesus who ultimately questions the authority of the temple leaders and they are obviously not happy about it.

Matthew 21:23 (ESV):

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”

Mark 11:27-33 (ESV):

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28 and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Luke 20:1-8 (ESV):

20 One day, as Jesus[a] was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Jesus sends the challenge back at the temple leaders by asking them if  John’s baptism (John the Baptist) was from God. They refused to answer because John had challenged their authority and nearly every one in Israel, but them, considered John to be a prophet of God.

Following that initial confrontation with the temple leaders, Jesus continued to teach the people gathered in the temple. the parable of the ‘Wicked Tenants’ was obviously directed at the ‘unfaithful’ temple leaders themselves.

Luke 20:9-16 (ESV):

The Parable of the Wicked Tenants

9 And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant[b] to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!”

The temple leaders listening to the teaching of Jesus rightly sensed that Jesus was talking about them and was declaring that ultimately God would kick them out and give the leadership responsibility to others. They replied indignantly: “Surely not!” Jesus continued his teaching against them by quoting Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14:

Luke 20:17-18 (ESV):

The Stone That Was Rejected

17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?[c]

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Jesus applies these scriptures to himself as the one rejected by the leaders but divinely appointed and blessed. He implies that the ones who reject him will be ultimately broken and crushed.  Again the temple leaders rightly sense that Jesus has directed this parable against them.  They want to take him right then but they feared the response of the huge crowd that was listening and accepting Jesus.  So they tried to ask Jesus questions that would result in disapproval by the crowd and give them a good pretense for putting hum under arrest.

Luke 20:19-20 (ESV):

19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people. 20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor.

They hoped to stump Jesus with some clever questions that would get him in trouble with the crowd.  The first one is ingenious. They perceived that no matter how Jesus answered he would be in trouble. Nobody wanted to pay the Roman taxes imposed upon them at the time. So if he stated that one should pay the taxes, everyone in the crowd and in all of Israel would be against him. But if Jesus told the people not to pay the Romans, then he would be subject to arrest and in violation of Roman law and authority:

Luke 20: 21-26 (ESV):

Paying Taxes to Caesar

21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality,[d] but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius.[e] Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.

Note that the ‘super intelligent’ temple leaders themselves ‘marveled’ at the answer of Jesus and gave up and became silent. Then came the Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection with a question which they had traditionally used to silence the Pharisees who did believe in a life hereafter. No one had ever given an a good answer before and the question usually caused division:

Luke 20: 27-40 (ESV):
Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man[f] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”

34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons[g] of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Little did they know or understand that they were challenging the very one who would make the resurrection and eternal life possible. with that answer, the temple leaders and authorities gave up and left Jesus alone to continue to teach the people gathered in the temple. At this point they wanted to find a way to arrest Jesus when the crowds were not around.

Luke 20:41-44 (ESV):
Whose Son Is the Christ?

41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
43 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

Jesus again challenges the temple authorities but this time the ‘experts’ were silent and refused to answer because they were stumped by the passage. The quote here is from Psalm 110;1 which is considered to be a ‘messianic’ scripture that the educated Jewish temple leaders could not explain or answer. With that, now Jesus directly challenged the leaders before his disciples and the crowd with the following:

Luke 20: 45-47 (ESV):
Beware of the Scribes

45 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

In this case it was not a parable or a scriptural quote, but a very clear condemnation of the scribes and temple leaders themselves. The worst of the condemnations against the scribes and leaders is found in Matthew 23. Here’s a sample:

Matthew 23: 1-3, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28  (ESV):

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. …

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d]  …

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! …

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

The account of Jesus in the temple that day continues with his observation of offerings being given that day:

Luke 21:1-4 (ESV):

The Widow’s Offering

21 Jesus[a] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.[b] 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Again, the response of Jesus to the offerings was a back handed challenge to the temple leaders who were all wealthy and liked to show off in front of others with their large impressive offerings. The temple observers would have been commenting and approving of the huge offerings given by the rich. But it was the tiny offering given by the widow that drew the attention of Jesus and was really worthy of note that day.

The Gospel of John notes that there were Greek believers (either Jews who spoke Greek or converts) in Jerusalem that day who wanted to meet with Jesus.

John 12: 20-26 (ESV):

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

In their case, Jesus makes it plain that those who serve him will be honored by God. But also in this passage Jesus refers to his soon coming death and resurrection. Not only that, but those who believe in him and follow him, regardless of what happens in this life in the world, will receive eternal life.

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving the temple, some of them noted the grandeur and beauty of the temple:

Luke 21:5-7 (ESV):
Jesus Foretells Destruction of the Temple

5 And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, 6 “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Matthew 24:1-2 (ESV):

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2 But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

The disciples had to be shocked by his response. After all, they had been raised on the hope that the Messiah would suddenly come to his temple, over-throw the Romans, and rule the entire world from there. Now Jesus was predicting that the temple which gave them Messianic hope would be completely destroyed.

As they travel out of Jerusalem they were probably silent considering what Jesus had predicted. That evening and probably into the next day they would question Jesus about that prediction:

Luke 21:7 (ESV):

7 And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?”

Matthew 24:3 (ESV):

3 As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus and the disciples left Jerusalem and traveled to the Mount of Olives and then back to Bethany to spend the night and the next day resting. 

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