For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 1 Peter 3:18
On Monday of Holy Week Jesus made a bold statement by cleansing the temple, driving out the moneychangers and vendors that prevented the Gentiles from using the Temple as a house of prayer. It was symbolic of what Jesus’ death on the cross would accomplish- true religion for all. Total access to God for people of all nations. And it was a condemnation of the false religion that the Jewish religious leaders had put in place.
On Tuesday Jesus returns to the Temple to teach the people. It is in this setting that Jesus engages in an epic verbal battle with the religious leaders- answering “trick” questions, arguing theology, telling parables, and ultimately warning the people to avoid the religion of the Scribes and Pharisees.
I would encourage you and your family to read some of these exchanges in Matthew 21:23-23:39; Mark 11:27-12:44; or Luke 20:1-21:4.
Look at our Fighter Verse for this week (above). It tells us that Jesus was the Righteous One who suffered for the unrighteous (you and me). This is what every religion expect true gospel Christianity misses. You and I are unrighteous. We need a righteous Savior. We cannot earn it on our own.
Each of Jesus’ words on Tuesday of Holy Week point to this fact- “you don’t know what you are doing and you don’t have a chance without me.”
At one point on Tuesday Jesus asks this question: “Suppose a Father says to his son, ‘go work in the field.’ The son says ‘no’ but then changes his mind and goes. The Father says to the second son, ‘go work in the field.’ The son says ‘yes’ but then fails to go. Who has done the will of his Father?”
The Pharisees answer correctly and say “the first son.”
Jesus says the first son is the tax collectors and prostitutes, and the second son is the Pharisees.
Are you a Pharisee today? Do you think you have your life all figured out. Are you so good that you are actually missing Jesus? Are you deceived into thinking that you are saying yes to working in God’s field but you haven’t actually gone to work yet?
Or are you desperate and needy like the tax collectors and prostitutes? Do you see your own need every day for a Savior? Are you poor in spirit? Are you meek? Is Jesus ALONE your righteousness or are you relying on some form of self- righteousness: church attendance, sacraments, being “better” than others, doing good in order to win God’s favor, ministry, parenting, work?
I know many of us are Christians and we would say “No, I am not counting on those things for salvation!” But are we counting on those things for our daily dose of God’s grace, rather than counting on Jesus’ righteousness for our daily dose of God’s grace? Are we big picture grace receivers, but day to day Pharisees and grace rejecters?
Turn to Jesus- the righteous one who died for you- the unrighteous one.