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Holy Tuesday: The Last Parables

03.12.2024

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How intentional would you be with your time if you knew you only had a few days left to live? How purposeful would you be with your words? Who you spent time with? What activities or experiences you do? The thought of an impending loss naturally heightens the importance of the minutes and moments that come before. That’s why most of us who have lost someone can still recall, likely in vivid detail, a last conversation or a last experience; loss tends to imprint memories in the deepest part of our souls.

Knowing this, I want to challenge us not to skip over Holy Tuesday as we’re often prone to do. In our effort to get to the intimacy of the Passover meal, the utter chaos and despondency of the Crucifixion, the tension of Saturday, and the celebration of Easter Sunday, we often leave very little room to sit and reflect on what happened between the Triumphant Entry on Sunday and the Last Supper on Thursday. But it’s here, in these oft-forgotten moments, where Jesus shared some of his last words before He was crucified.

Make no mistake, he knew the timeline perfectly. He knew that the triumphant entry into Jerusalem would be one of his last rides into the city, that while his miracles and power were reaching a critical mass of influence (he had just raised Lazarus from the dead with nothing but the power of his voice, leading to a fervor of praise and worship that we call Palm Sunday), that even at the seeming height of his earthly ministry, it would all come to a head by the end of the week.

He knew the stakes, that a devastating betrayal was coming, that the torture and agony and unfathomable pain was drawing closer. He knew it all, and what did he choose to do on those last days before his crucifixion?

He did what he’d been doing for years. He taught. He loved. He ministered, answered questions, and asked some of his own. He didn’t demand an audience or clamor for a platform. He spoke to the people who wanted to listen, and he didn’t hold back any punches. After all, how could he? These were his last days, his last words. They were intentionally selected to fall in these early days of Holy Week, weighty and important messages, and if we’re willing to see them as such, we’ll likely have a new appreciation for these parables and truths.

If you go back and look at all four gospels, you’ll realize a startling truth: 29 of the 89 chapters (nearly one-third of the recorded life and journey of Jesus) take place during the Holy Week or the days leading up to his resurrection. In particular, if you look at the gospel of Matthew, we note that Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is recorded in chapter 21, and his resurrection ends the book in chapter 28. The Passover meal is eaten in Matthew 26, so that means it’s likely that everything that happens from Matthew 21:12 all the way to Matthew 26:5 happens between Monday and Wednesday of this special week, with Holy Tuesday being the center of that timing.

In these days between Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, Jesus taught on the parable of the two sons, the parable of the tenants, and the parable of the wedding feast. He shared his well-known response to the question of paying taxes to Rome when he said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” He talked with the Sadducees about the resurrection and the Pharisees about the Greatest Commandment.

He exposited on Psalm 110, warned the Jewish leaders of the consequences of their wrongful actions, lamented over Jerusalem, foretold the destruction of the temple (both his body and the physical temple), and spoke about the end of the age and the times to come. He spoke about preparedness in that no one knows the day nor the hour of his returning and second coming, and he backed up his teaching with a parable of the ten virgins, five of whom carried extra oil for their lamps and therefore were ready when the bridegroom came.

He told a stunning story about four servants whose master gave them each talents and a responsibility to be good stewards. It’s this parable from which we draw the often-spoken words: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” He talked about the final judgment and how it’s not just the outward perception of our faith and Christianity that saves us. True and saving faith moves in action towards the least, the last, and the lost.

All of this and more took place somewhere between Monday and Wednesday of Holy Week. These were the last public teachings of Jesus before his crucifixion (the gospel of John records what is known as the Upper Room Discourse from John 13-17, but that was a private teaching made to the select few disciples with him, not public teaching).

We don’t actually know exactly which parables or teachings fell on which days, which is actually pretty beautiful in its own way. In the absence of the exact timing of the teachings, the gospel writers are letting us know that the location or the day wasn’t what was most important; the words and the messages were the main points.

If there is one main takeaway from Holy Tuesday, it’s that Jesus is faithful to the work of shepherding the people whom God had entrusted him, even as the more dire of circumstances threatened to crash into his life.

Knowing his days were limited, he chose to equip. To steer hearts once again to the love and generosity of the Father and to the responsibility and invitation of the saints to obey, eagerly working and waiting for the ultimate victory over every expression of darkness.

His actions on Holy Tuesday should give you great confidence that no matter what is on your horizon, no matter what circumstances may come up tomorrow, Jesus isn’t backing down from loving and leading you.

He isn’t hiding or simply looking out for his best interests. In fact, had he “laid low” during Holy Week, the vitriol and malice of the religious elite may have never crescendoed into crucifixion.

He is faithful, steady, sure, and true. He is the model of obedience, putting his Father’s words and plans before whatever human temptations arose in the face of his impending death.

As such, he can strengthen our resolve to be likewise obedient no matter the cost because, as we now know the full story, we believe that if we live like him on Tuesday, we will eventually be raised with him in victory on that last and final Sunday.

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Scripture References

  • Matthew 21:12-26:5
  • John 13-17
Jake Daghe Jake Daghe is a theology teacher and writer at Passion City Church. He is an avid learner and has written widely in topics such as faith, professional development, and leadership. Jake lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife Lindsey, and their twin girls. He enjoys diner coffee, The Inklings, board games, and visiting as many National Parks as possible with his family.