Throughout the world this week, Christians will be focusing on the Passion of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, the emphasis is on the events that took place on the three days we know as Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday. On those days, we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper and prayer at Gethsemane, and Jesus’ arrest, suffering, and crucifixion. But what happened during the days between the triumphal entry and the Last Supper, between Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday?
Following the triumphal entry, Jesus spent some time looking around the temple. Then, in what seems like an anti-climactic end to a day that began with crowds cheering and praising Him, calling out to Him, “Hosanna!” which means “save us,” Jesus returned to Bethany, where He had been staying along with His disciples. Over the next few days, Jesus and His disciples would travel back and forth between Bethany and Jerusalem, a trip of about two miles. The clock was ticking as the days and hours brought Jesus closer to what He had been sent here for, His suffering, His death and His resurrection.
The next day, Jesus and the disciples made their way back to Jerusalem. At the temple that day, an event occurred that was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to the chief priests’ and scribes’ opinion of Jesus. As He entered the temple, Jesus began driving out the buyers and sellers, overturning the tables of the money-changers, saying, “My house shall be a house of prayer! But you have made it a den of thieves!” The chief priests and the scribes saw and heard all this and began seeking a way to destroy Jesus. Their anger must have burned at Jesus, a person they perceived as nothing more than a rabble-rouser and a blasphemer. But since they feared the crowds who were amazed at Jesus’ words, they did nothing, and Jesus left Jerusalem for Bethany once again that evening (Mark 11:15-19). But He was now one day closer to that which He had come for, to suffer and die for the sins of man.
On the second day following the triumphal entry, as they made their way back to Jerusalem, Jesus taught His disciples (and us) an important in faith and forgiveness. Jesus said that, through faith, we can move a mountain and that any prayer that is offered with faith, without doubting, is a prayer that will receive an answer. He also spoke about the importance of forgiving the trespasses of others, pointing out that when we do, God will also forgive us (Mark 11:20-25). That began what would be one of the most event-filled days leading up to the Passion.