Eight Days of Glory

8DaysofGlory
Eight Days of Glory

Reflections on the Holy Week

By Leslie H. Woodson
Published: 2/9/2015
Publisher: Westbow Press, A Division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan
Format: Physical (Soft Cover) or E-Book (available as ePub, Mobi, and PDF files)
Pages:150
ISBN: 978-1-49086-716-8
Print Type:B/W

 

 


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How would you spend your last week on earth? What would you do if your best friend had one week to live? Take a walk with Jesus and his disciples through the holiest of weeks. Move through the valleys of wrath, betrayal, abandonment, and death. Climb the peaks of a triumphal parade, a sacrificial anointing, and an empty tomb. Experience Jesus’ humanity and deity as you never have before.

“The eight days from Palm Sunday to Easter have been unequaled in importance in all of human history. 8 Days of Glory combines biblical scripture, historical context, theological analysis, spiritual insight, and pastoral warmth as Dr. Les Woodson explores the significant meaning of each day. Do not miss this spiritual journey, either individually, in small groups or in Sunday school.”

—Ken M. Howard, Lay Leader at Memorial United Methodist Church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Dr. Les Woodson began his journey with Jesus as a teenager and followed faithfully his whole life. This close, daily walk brought insight and enthusiasm to his preaching, writing, and ministry. He penned a score of books and was a conference speaker as well as pastor. His work continues through the nonprofit ministry of Century House Evangelistic Foundation in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

MONDAY

In A History of the Jews

My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples. But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves (Mark 11:17, TEV).

A Religion That Made God Angry

Only Matthew and Mark record the episode surrounding Jesus’ failure to find anything on a pretentious fig tree at which He hoped to be able to break His night-fast. John does not mention the instance and neither does Luke, unless the parable which is related much earlier in the third narrative (Luke 13:6-9) is a version of this same event. After the night of rest—and it is probable that Jesus slept little after the disappointment of the previous day—the Lord commenced His return journey to Jerusalem fully intent on creating dramatic situations of judgment which could not be misread by even the dullest Jew. When lie found a fig tree without fruit, nature had provided him with a ready-made object lesson for the disciples.

Although “it was not the season for figs,” the tree was in full leaf and it is a known fact that the Palestinian fig tree bears its fruit before its foliage. The presence of leaves was recognized as a definite sign of figs. When Jesus approached the tree, however, and pushed aside the leaves, there was not a single fig to be found. “May no one ever again eat fruit from you!” He exclaimed. This was not the remark of a peeved child who, unable to get what he wants when he wants it, throws an ugly temper fit. The Lord was not angry with a tree, but He was indignant with a nation which He found to be perfectly symbolized by the tree. As Farrar, in his inimitable way, puts it, “The sap was circulating; the leaves made a fair show; but of fruit there was none. Fit emblem of a hypocrite, whose external semblance is a delusion and a sham— fit emblem of the nation in whom the ostentatious profession of religion brought forth no fruit of good living—the tree was barren.”

There are some who accuse Jesus of acting in a manner unbecoming to a holy prophet. He is said to be “throwing his weight around,” pronouncing judgment on an unconscious tree, out of a sense of personal injury. This is not so. John the Baptist had said, three years earlier, “Already the axe is laid to the roots of the trees; and every tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire” (Matt. 3:10). Luke recalls Jesus having told a parable to enforce the truth of the Baptist’s word of violent judgment.

Now, at the end of His preaching ministry, the Lord is using the most powerful form of teaching available—the dramatic medium of didactic influence which leaves its indelible impression upon the mind through the window of the eye. They might forget what John and He had said, but the disciples would not be apt to forget soon what they were about to see happen to the fig tree. The next morning Peter called attention to the desiccated tree which stood before them as a warning against hypocrisy and impenitence. Having found no fruit on the precocious fig tree, Jesus was strengthened in His resolve to proceed to the Temple and confront the deceived multitudes with the true nature of worship in contrast to that which the priests were endorsing. With predetermined resolution, the Master walked briskly up the Temple steps and into the large court where travelers from afar were bargaining with the sellers of sacrificial birds and animals for a specimen worthy of the Passover. These sacrifices could have been purchased much more cheaply in the marketplaces, but the priests usually found blemishes in such lambs and doves which rendered them unacceptable. Outside the Temple a pair of pigeons could be obtained for as little as 65 cents. Inside the sacred precincts the charge was in excess of $2.00! This was a convenient and nefarious way for the priests to line their own pockets. It is no wonder that the Lord, sensitive to this prostitution of the sacrificial system, called the Jewish authorities behind the traffic in the Temple “a den of robbers.”

As if it were not enough that the people should be fleeced in the purchasing of victims, the priests had also set up “money-changers’ tables” where a charge was made to convert the traveler’s money into the shekels of the sanctuary. Currencies, normally carried about by foreign pilgrims at the Passover, were not acceptable in paying a debt to God. Neither the Roman denarii nor Attic drachmas were permitted because of the pagan portraits which were imposed upon them. To get his money exchanged, a poor Jew often paid as much as he earned in a full day’s work. The exploitation of the poor, in the name of religion, is an ever recurring practice in church history. Martin Luther was reacting in the sixteenth century against just such an abuse as that which our Lord deplored in Jewry.

John places this incident at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, after the miracle at Cana in Galilee (2:13-22). Some scholars, like Edersheim and Farrar, take this to mean that this Messianic act was performed twice, once at the outset of our Lord’s ministry for warning and again at the conclusion for judgment. The fact that John does not mention the incident in the proceedings of the last week and the other narrators fail to include it any earlier reflects the idea that John was not interested in writing a chronological history but only in the facets of Jesus’ life which threw light on His deity. The authorities would not have been so surprised—in fact possibly they would have been on guard—had the self-acclaimed Teacher from Nazareth scourged the Temple before. Be that as it may, the cleansing of the Temple fits in here and was another reason for the mounting bitterness which led the Master to the brow of Golgotha.

Some significance may be attached to the interesting observation that it is John only who mentions the “whip of cords.” Each of the other three narrators uses the verb for drive, which certainly suggests force, but he does not employ any term describing how the word of Jesus was enforced. No sticks or rods were allowed in the Temple and it is probable that the cords mentioned were rushes used for animal bedding. Those who object to the use of force by a God of love should remember that the one disciple most deeply loving was the one who did not fear to mention the use of a whip. Genuine love always has judgment in it and, while we may rightly assume that the whip was not laid upon the men themselves, the sight of a whip may have reminded the greedy priests that God’s judgment will have real sting in it! …