Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 30, 2021

the Master’s class

As we walk deliberately through Jesus’ final days before dying and rising, we find ourselves, like the ancients, on this Tuesday in a MasterClass … or, more truly, in the Master’s class. Teaching is on tap for today. Teaching, teaching, and more teaching. There will be mountains moved by morning, mites magnified after midday and a meaningful mention of staying awake as no one knows whether the Master will return at midnight or morning. How does one tell of today when it would take all week to do it well?! My head is swimming a bit as I expect would have been true of an ancient who was with Jesus from waking to sleeping that Tuesday.

In passing by the wasted and withered fig tree the very next morning after it was cursed, Jesus chooses to teach. He answers Peter’s notice and amazement with a not-of-this-world truth for all that echoes to us today. Namely, how even the most trace amount of true faith in God can pick up a mountain and move it. And, oh, if there were time to unpack the deeply meaningful and yet seemingly unrelated lesson of the correlation between prayer and forgiveness in those same moments. But we need to keep moving. My own compel causes me to think of the Messiah’s that day. Wondering whether He felt the burden of being constrained by time in meeting and moving through all the purposed moments of today. My own sense of unease reminds me of a story my father has shared several times about a dear friend and a visit to Washington D.C. My father grew up just outside our nation’s capital and made several trips during my adolescence as a “tour guide” of sorts for friends who had never been. He had a deep knowledge of the city and keen sense for seeing its sites in a limited window of time. On their very first morning in the very first museum, my father’s friend walked up to the very first exhibit in the grand lobby and began reading the placard. Turning back to see his friend reading, my father casually returned to his friend’s side. Leaning in close to his friend’s ear, he encouraged his dear friend in this way. “If you only want to see this one museum during our time here, please continue reading. But if you would like to see anything else while we’re here, it is time to move on.” And so shall we.

The truth confounds and contorts those who set out to deceive. And so it was as Jesus and his disciples reached Jerusalem Tuesday morning. Jesus goes immediately to the temple and is met by a pack of elites who challenge the authority of His work and words. I’m not sure I noticed that first part before, or at least to the degree I did this year. Maybe a bit obscured by the crowd and the challenge of the religious elites was the setting where it happened. Perhaps this was another understated, intentional visit by the Son to have a look around at his Father’s house a day after making things new. Or, perhaps, He would answer me as He did his parents as a boy, “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49b (NLT). Whatever the reason for the where, Jesus ties the “Have’s” in a knot by answering their question with one of His own. He then answered their non-answer with one of His own.

He went on to tell a story to all who were gathered but was aimed squarely at those who were even then plotting. It was the story of an owner of a vineyard and evil tenant farmers. The story found its mark and sent the evil ones scurrying in fear. Over and over again on this day the religious leaders grouped and regrouped. Jesus was teaching to all those gathered, but the most intense exchanges were with those who were not there to hear. They repeatedly tried to trick Jesus with their questions on authority and taxes and brides and brothers and the greatest commandment. They were so sure they’d catch Him in a trap. They tried to catch Him with clever, but who were they kidding?! The easy answer to that is … themselves.

After repeated exchanges with the various groups of elites, we find one of the most powerful and poignant moments of the day. Jesus deliberately sits down very near the collection box in the temple and waits. I wonder (because of the way the story is told in verses 41-44 of Mark 12) if He did so alone. I can see Him in my mind’s eye sitting and observing intently as people of all walks came to give out of what they had. Scripture specifically notes the large gifts from those who had much and then … “she” arrives. When He sees her, Jesus calls for His disciples to come. I wonder if His gestures were subtle or pronounced. This was something that could not be missed today. This deserved their full attention and intention in observation (as it does ours). Amid all the temple bustle, a poor widow approaches the collection box with every last bit of what she had to live on. Two tiny copper coins which she gave to her Lord with a heart I can only expect was full and glad. As the woman who will break open the bottle tomorrow, this one also gave all — every last bit of what she had. Is there any wonder Jesus would take time out of His beyond busy day to sit and watch this lavish gift? He knew she would be there. He also knew when. And He purposed to go, and to sit, and to wait, and to watch. Watch this woman give all to Him in the form of her two mites just days before He would give His all to her (and all) in stretching out His two arms.

Scripture’s account of the day concludes in some manner of how it began, with a single disciple making an observation and Jesus teaching something deeply meaningful to all of them in response. And later, as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and looked out over the valley to his Father’s house (Temple) on the other side, He articulated to Peter, James, John and Andrew who had come to Him privately, a picture of the birth pains that will precede His coming again. If their heads and hearts were not already full from the events and declarations of the day, I can only imagine what it was like for them to take that all in. Can you imagine what it was like to hear what following Him would personally cost them? Can you see their reactions on Friday and Saturday and early Sunday differently through this lens? The thought of paying that price with Him by their side would have been monumental enough. But imagine the weight of believing they were losing Him in seeing Him accused, condemned, brutally beaten, hanging on the Cross, breathing His last, and being taken down and away quickly to be buried before the new Shabbat “dawned.” Sometimes we can be quick to shake our heads at all the disciples missed and how they failed, but they were living the story that we already know. I, for one, cannot even imagine.

The sun would soon set on Tuesday and its teaching, and Jesus and his troop of Twelve would head back to their hospitality in Bethany. Today’s fervor will reignite tomorrow, but in a far more intimate setting and all because of the favor of one. What a treasure it is to be walking together at the Master’s pace.



  1. What an enjoyable account of a day with Jesus! Thank You Father….and thank you mark. 🙂 Having His sight observations, His mind awarenesses and His heart passions revealed to those invited along. Those invited to share in the day, no doubt, with their (our) own observations, awarenesses and passions of not only the events, but of those of their Guide. A day of gracious, provided fullness. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
    John 1:16

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