Monday is not known for being the most hopeful of days. Songs have been written about Mondays. Monday marks the end of the weekend. Though it offers a new start and a new beginning, most don’t see it that way. Monday means back to the grind in most people’s minds.
Jesus’ experiences on Holy Monday are a precursor to the work he would do the rest of the week. On Monday He set in motions the dominoes of instant responses for what would lead to Good Friday. The disciples didn’t seem to have a clue. Coming off of the high of Palm Sunday, they might have had their hearts and minds set on some more of the same for this day. Perhaps they wanted to sleep in after such a draining Sunday. This would not be the case.
Rather, they followed Jesus as He led them on an intense day of mysterious events with important lessons. Monday, in the week that changed the world, would be a day of teaching about prayer. He would rely on the dramatic to drive His teaching home. Unbeknownst to the disciples, Jesus was planning to rock their world this Monday. There would be nothing quiet about this day.
During His previous visits to the Temple, I’m sure it was hard for Jesus to resist throwing a table or two all those times when He witnessed the way the devout were falling prey to the greedy. In fact, John’s gospel has the event of the clearing of the Temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. There were either two Temple clearings, or John put it near the front (John 2:12-25) as a demonstration of His Deity. Jesus gave them something to talk about. It wasn’t a miracle or a demonstration of His supernatural power; it was the demonstration of His right as God to demand that the Temple be what God gave it to the Israelites to be. It was a place where God would meet with them. It was a place of prayer, and the religious leaders had let it become a den of robbers.
It was like the lightening, blowing of trumpets, and smoke on the mountaintop that the people saw when God gave Moses the Law and directions for building the temple. This place was built so that people could have a relationship with God, and it was no longer being used for what it was meant to be. Jesus took Monday to set things straight. In dramatic fashion he overturned tables and threw out the hustlers. Jesus was showing that His House should be a house of prayer.
Later, on the road, he saw a fig tree full of leaves but no fruit. Here was a second lesson of prayer for the day and one of the few miracles that week. Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had no fruit. He then challenged the disciples, the witnesses to this event, to discover the power of their prayer.
“Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea, and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:21-22).
So Monday of Holy Week began with a message that prayer should be a priority. How is your prayer life? (Matthew 21:12-22; Mark 11:12-26; Luke 19:45-48)
Note: I’ve written Holy Week Devotions which are available at http://www.pcbc.org/holyweekdevotions if you would like to think about what Jesus did each day of Holy Week. May you have a blessed Holy Week!