Lent 2023, Day 35: Holy Monday

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

From Greg Grandchamp at Christianity Today, on the importance of Holy Monday:

Can you imagine how the disciples felt on the Monday after Palm Sunday (referred to as Holy Monday)? Just the day before, Jesus had made his grand entrance into Jerusalem. He had ridden in on the foal, the colt, of a donkey that no one had ever ridden. All of this is in fulfillment of the prophecy found in the Book of Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

The disciples followed this man Jesus for three years. They had witnessed all of the miracles, but more importantly, they had been with him virtually every hour of every day. They knew this man. Peter had declared him to be “…the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). 

Their hearts must have been overflowing with expectation. They were the first to throw their cloaks on the donkey and the ground in front of Jesus. But they were indeed not alone in their celebration.

Many people celebrated the King’s coming into Jerusalem, throwing their own cloaks on the ground. Many others grabbed branches of trees — assumed to be branches of palms — to place on the royal pathway.

They yelled out, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:6-9) “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:13)

Holy Monday – the Beginning of Holy Week

As this triumphal entry took place on a Sunday, we can only imagine the exhilaration felt by his disciples — and shared by the people. After all, they expected a conquering king to free them from the domination of the Roman Empire. To free them from their slavery in Rome.

Their expectation was for a conquering king. Little did they expect what began the very next day — Monday. But Jesus knew. Jesus knew he would fulfill every promise, every Old Testament prophecy — and it was coming down to the final week.

Holy Monday. The second day of what we now call Holy Week. The last Monday leading up to Easter, or Resurrection Sunday.

The triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is remembered and celebrated on Palm Sunday. It provides a prelude to many sad events leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.

Of course, having the benefit of knowing the outcome, we indeed recognize the events for what they were — but to his disciples at the time, these days must have been increasingly disturbing, ultimately culminating in his death.

We can be sure that the disciples considered the week anything but holy — that is, until the following Sunday.

It is clear, though, that what occurred was a deliberate march by Jesus toward the cross as he intentionally and progressively pointed out the hypocrisy and corruption of the religious leaders of the day.

What Happened on Holy Monday? Fruitless Faith and a Temple Cleansed

Upon this celebratory entry into Jerusalem, the Pharisees had ordered Jesus to silence the crowd’s joyful praises (Luke 19-37-39). Then, only five short days later, Pilate would be unable to silence that same crowd calling for Jesus to be crucified.

It is worth asking — what did Jesus do and say during that final week, Holy Week, that caused such a dramatic change of heart? Jesus would use the next day, the second day of Holy Week, to demonstrate what true faith in God meant, and to affirm his authority as the Son of God. Holy Monday.

The Gospel of Mark tells us that upon entering Jerusalem, since it was already late, Jesus went to Bethany with the Twelve. Bethany was only a short mile away, at the foot of the Mount of Olives (Mark 11:11). The next morning, Monday, it all began.

Upon leaving Bethany the next morning, Jesus and disciples passed by a fig tree that was full of leaves but bore no figs. Completely fruitless.

Since the tree could have been expected to bear fruit just two months or so later, there should have at least been unripe fruit to eat, but there was none. Jesus cursed the tree for being fruitless, and it withered by the next day.

Jesus was about to judge a generation of those who practiced rites and rituals of a fruitless religion. He used the moment to teach the disciples about genuine faith — such that faith even the size of a mustard seed could move mountains when it is aligned with God’s will (Matthew 21:21-22).

Indeed, the faith of his disciples would be greatly tested in the coming days.

Jesus proceeded to the courtyards around the temple. He found utter irreverence for the Lord’s house of prayer.

Read the rest here.

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