When looking at this series through Holy Week it is difficult to glean a nice western 21st century historical time-line through the last week of Christ’s life, as we might wish to. Aside from the way the gospel writers liked to move events around their own accounts in-order to emphasise different facets of Jesus’ teaching and life, there just wasn’t ever a ‘Monday Jesus did x’ attitude to their writings at all.
At this point of the week having carefully told us of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and turning of the tables on Sunday and his interaction with the Priests on the Monday the next few chapters just descend into a sea of red letters, well in my Bible it does anyway. Jesus seems to spend a huge amount of his time for next day or so teaching.
There is much, much more to explore about these verses we read today – but enough to say that they are words that must speak to every Church leader today, especially to those of us with a model of ‘priesthood’ (whatever that is!).
But I also think there is something significant going on here. Jesus is entering the last week of his life, he knows the task he has before him and what is going to happen next. So he spends his time teaching. Acres and acres of teaching and parables. It’s as if he wants to ensure that we are given all the information we need. He’s unpacking everything he’s not yet had chance to speak on, and re-emphasising the most important things he came to impart.
“These are the things you need to know, listen to me. It’s important”
We may find ourselves wishing Jesus had waited another year before fulfilling his mission. Perhaps he could have been more explicit about the problems we wrestle with today – maybe he could have said something about human sexuality, or something really obvious about women in ministry but that sort of misses the point – these are issues that are for the Church of now and in the scheme of things not of the importance we perhaps believe they are. (I do not mean to reduce their importance to us now!) Actually another 20 years of ministry wouldn’t help, that’s why he gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us through the centuries.
Jesus is on his way to the cross and he spends his time imparting all that he can to his people before the fateful hour of his betrayal is before him.