We usually break this passage up into bite-size lessons, but today we read them together as a whole day unfolding in and around the temple. Our distance from first century Jerusalem wears some of the sharp edge off of Jesus’ words. We must remember where he was and who he was talking to. For example, the widow’s two coins is a familiar image during offering time. “We should be more like her,” we say. In context, though, Jesus has just condemned the scribes who “devour widows’ houses.” He immediately turns around and basically says, “See? There’s one right now, being robbed of all she has.” He points her out not necessarily to commend her generosity but to condemn the injustice of the temple system. He levels these incisive critiques in the very heart of Jewish civic, economic, social, and religious life. Immerse yourself in this day in the temple with this mind—that Jesus did not deserve death, but he certainly did ask for it.
- Read Mark 11:27–13:44.
- Ask God for the grace of alertness and discernment.
- Walk through and around the temple with Jesus. Look at all the impressive architecture the disciples point out. Feel the rising outrage of the religious authorities. Why are Jesus’ words so offensive?
- What is at the heart of all Jesus’ lessons?
- Now walk with Jesus through your church. Try to transpose his teachings from first century Jewish society under Roman rule into your own social, political, and religious context. What questions and challenges does he have for us?
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Associate Minister at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta, GA and the former Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC.