One of my favorite things to do during Holy Week is to follow along day by day in Scripture what was happening during Jesus’ last week before his crucifixion. Here’s what happened the day after Jesus road into town on the donkey:
“On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. And when evening came they went out of the city.” Mark 11:12-19)
As I read through Jesus’ actions, even knowing some of the purpose behind them, Jesus seems a little harsh all of the sudden… cursing fig trees and overturning tables in the temple. What I love though is that if we read a few verses before as well as these passages as accounted by other gospel writers, we realize these were not just knee-jerk reactions, but rather responses to things that broke Jesus’ heart. Verse 11 tells us that the night before he had walked into town and simply looked around at everything. Luke 19:41 put it this way:
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it…”
Nearing the end of his earthy days, Jesus saw things that broke His heart and it was finally the right time to do something about it. That’s what I’m reminded of this Holy Monday. Not only did Jesus turn over tables in hopes to return his temple to a house of prayer. But as He experienced anger and sadness about the sinful, broken world later on in the week we would see Him take action to do something about it. This time, it would mean giving His life.
So as I reflect on the action Jesus took to right the wrongs of this world, I sense him calling me as well to give up any apathy that might be present in my heart. That when I see injustice and things that aren’t right… to do something about it… to get a little angry.
Thinking about fasting or “giving up” which is a typical Lenten topic, I can’t help but think of Isaiah 58, which shows what true fasting is all about…
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard….
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.” (Isaiah 58:6-8)
Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours. May I never “fast for fasting sake” but may I pour myself out for those in need. Give me a heart that gets angry at injustice, that refuses to stay content in apathy. Call me to action and give me all I need to right the wrongs and serve those in need around me. May I speak for those that have no voice, fight for those without any strength, and stand up for those who can’t stand for themselves. Bring light to darkness, and use me to do it! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!