Maybe I dropped the ball yesterday if I wanted to blog every day during Holy Week. Or maybe Monday in holy week was just a bad day for Jesus.
He’s hungry and the fig tree has no figs. So what does he do? Well it’s all too much! Freaking fig tree! He curses it. Who could blame him? We’ve all been there.
And then he arrives at the temple to find the money changers and the sellers of sacrificial animals. Might as well be a slap in the face to the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. No wonder he threw a fit and drove them out of the temple.
See, I don’t think it was so much about making the temple into a den of thieves as it was about once and for all crushing the old system of sacrifice to rid ourselves of guilt and sin.
How terrible for Jesus to see the birds and cattle of that old system in the temple — and see people making a profit from the idea of removing guilt and sin from people who were hurting — when he was about to do that once for all, about to become the last and ultimate Passover lamb! I think it all just pissed him off.
So that was cranky Monday . Next day we find Jesus returning to the temple in a better mood to confound the religious leaders, but then he retreats with just his disciples to the Mount of Olives. For awesome Tuesday.
“If anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him. The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” — John 12:47-48 MEV
At the Mount of Olives on Tuesday, Jesus delivered the “Olivet Discourses”: a long and detailed teaching about the return of the Lord and judgment day.
These teachings are thoroughly recorded in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Luke and Mark. But today I discovered that the teaching recorded at the end of John 12 can also be included. Because I am partial to John, I looked here for what might be most important.
And what did I find? Jesus says: “If you don’t believe me, I don’t judge you.”
Now this is something we as the church seem to have completely overlooked. If people don’t believe the way we believe, we judge them as bound for hell right away.
But look at Jesus’ words. He is not even going to judge them! It’s as if he could see how hard the church would eventually make it to believe in him, by surrounding the faith with a lot of requirements and even in some cases a lot of politics.
It’s as if he could look through the centuries and see a hopeless 21st Century sinner looking at Christianity and seeing only judgment.
But he is quick to assure us: he doesn’t judge anyone for unbelief.
Yes, the next Scripture does say the unbeliever will be judged … but by whom? By the word Jesus spoke. And what was that word? Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. The word Jesus spoke, and the picture of God that he brought to us, as John witnesses in first John, is Love. God is Love.
So Jesus is saying, I don’t judge as the son of God, but your judge will be this word: love. Love is going to judge you. And how does love judge? Through mercy, forgiveness, peace. Who wouldn’t want to be so judged?
I wish that everyone knew Christ the Lord as I know him, and in even deeper and more wonderful ways if that were possible. But I do not think if someone doesn‘t believe in him or know him, as Jesus, that they are judged and condemned to hell.
I believe, as Jesus said, they are judged by his word of love, which offers reconciliation and resurrection. And this is really the message of Easter:
None of us are judged except by Love!
God commended his love to us in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
And now there is no condemnation.
Thus endeth the best lesson ever, on Tuesday in Holy Week.