Christ’s arrest did not really go that smoothly considering all that happened. It was not carried out in stealth, it was not after the feast of unleavened bread, and ironically Christ told them how they could have executed this arrest with greater precision. Christ told them that if they quietly escorted Christ out of the temple it would have gone a lot smoother. If the leaders of Israel desire to maintain credibility they better hope that the trial goes much better. So, does the trial go better? Is there proof against Christ that grounds their claims that He is a legitimate problem? Or is this another example where fallen man cannot competently conspire against the Lord?
This is a narrative that is not that encouraging read. The disciples are told that they will abandon Christ, Christ collapses, Judas betrays Christ, and his disciples fall asleep instead of praying after claiming to be heroes of the faith. So, what do we do with this discouragement? How can we see the sovereign hand of God in the midst of all that transpires in this story?
I wonder what it must have been like for the disciples to have the last supper with Jesus. They would expect this to be a normal day where they could enjoy the day and the time with one another recounting the history of Israel. Their experience is something that is radically different as Christ is preparing them for what awaits Him in His ministry: His betrayal and death. The disciples are horrified, and so what is the assurance in this text that there is no need to worry? How do we know that Christ is still in control?
We know that our Lord is one who cares for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. We know that our Lord is the one who heals the sick, takes away diseases, and is one tho ultimately takes away the sting of death. If this is true, then why is Christ so cavalier by respond to the disciples that they will always have the poor? Why not hear their suggestion to sell the ointment, give the money to the poor, and then just use a cheaper bottle? What does this story have to do with the tragic decision of a disciple and the leaders of Israel finally having the fortitude to send Christ to the cross?
Christ continues to talk about suffering and struggle in these last days. We can be assured that as the temple was destroyed with Jerusalem that the end of the world is guaranteed. So, if we know that the end of the world is coming then how shall we live? Really? Do we need to get very busy to make sure that this world is prepared for the Lord? Do we just be fatalistic and say it is coming what can we do anyway? Or is there something to Christ exhorting us to watch out and be on our guard that puts the coming end in a positive light?
Christ has talked about a life of suffering and struggle. The reality is that it is not encouraging to to think that one can pursue the kingdom only to find that there is just more and more suffering in this world. So, why continue if the Christian message seems to be suffer, then suffer some more, and then eventually die. Is that really the message? What is the comfort we take in the midst of the tragic day that happens in Jerusalem? How does that tell us this suffering will not always continue and be the thing that defines us?
The Christian life is a life that has high points and low points. When we face the trying seasons are temptation is to wonder what we have done wrong. When we face seasons of life when things go well for us then our temptation is to think that we have done something that is honorable or right in the Lord. Should we anchor or lives in what we see and experience in this world or is that a faulty life orientation? What should we expect as we go through this life and what is the basis of our expectation?
One scribe at least appears to be willing to talk with Christ and understand what Christ is teaching. Finally, we see a teacher of Israel at least treating Christ as an equal. We know that Christ is not an equal, but it is better than the previous context where the leadership desires to trap Christ. So, will the leaders follow Christ and submit to Him? How does a woman who gives with a cheerful heart indict the current leadership?
The pharisees and the sadducees finally have Christ right where they want him. In their minds they have trapped Christ into either losing credibility with the people or being charged as an insurrectionist. How is Christ going to get out of this trap? What does Christ teach as He responds to their trap?
When Christ is in the midst of Israel it seems that Christ has a challenge making friends with the leaders of Israel. Why does Christ have such a problem and what does Christ say about them? Why does Christ speak of a vineyard and troublesome tenants? Most of all, why would this offend the leaders of Israel?