holy-week-tuesday-72e21fa5ad697af8Raising Lazarus from the dead was the catalyst which brought cheering crowds into the streets of Jerusalem just a few days earlier (Palm Sunday).  This is the last straw for the religious establishment, who now have had just about enough of this man, Jesus of Nazareth.

The word on the streets of Jerusalem is that He has performed such astounding miracles, how could the Messiah do better?  Therefore, if it is impossible for the Messiah to perform greater acts, then perhaps Jesus is the Messiah.  The people appear to have hailed Jesus as their Messiah on Palm Sunday.  This must be stopped, say the High Priests.

So, as the streets are cleared of palms from two days earlier and preparations are being made for Passover two days hence, Jesus preaches at the Temple. This is where He confronted the money changers yesterday, an episode which also did not go down well with the established order. 

Jesus is outside the main Temple, in what is known as the Court of Gentiles.  The Gospels of St Mark and St Luke tell us that he spent the day there, fielding questions from the crowds.  The High Priests and elders survey the scene.  Mark 14:1-2 tells us:

Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

After having challenged Him before and received His rebukes in front of the people (Matthew 21-23), the High Priests were now afraid.  What would happen if people embraced Jesus as the Messiah?  The people would then turn against them.  This would upset the whole balance of power.  It must not go on, they said amongst themselves.

Jesus already knows what is happening and is prepared for a confrontation.  The Old Testament has prophesied it (Isaiah 53:1,3; Psalm 41:19).   

We will continue this story of betrayal tomorrow, which is known as Spy Wednesday.

Incidentally, today or tomorrow (Wednesday) is also the day that Catholic bishops celebrate the Chrism Mass, during which they bless the oil used in Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and the Anointing of the Sick and Dying. Although the text for this falls in the liturgy for Holy (Maundy) Thursday, the reason for celebrating this Mass before Holy Thursday is to give as many priests as possible the opportunity to participate in it with the bishop.