Tuesday brings another day in the temple.  Jesus is teaching about the Kingdom of God.  He tells a parable about a wealthy landowner and his troublesome tenants.

The conclusion is that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from those who currently lay claim to it and given to others whose faith will be more genuine.  Jesus also uses the occasion of a wedding to illustrate that a luxurious banquet is being prepared by God.  His invitation is to go out to the highways and the hedges, but only those who are properly dressed (or prepared) will enter in and rejoice.  The key is the garment is to be provided by the host for free.  Although this is the case, Jesus says, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

After this, the religious leaders test Jesus, trying to trap him.  They use the threat of Roman taxation, the assumption that one woman cannot possibly be married to seven men in the resurrection, and finally the test of prioritizing over 613 religious statutes .  In each case, Jesus responds with compassion and brilliance confounding those who seek to trap him while ingratiating himself all the more to the pilgrim masses.  

Going further, Jesus excoriates the priests and temple authorities in front of these pilgrims.  Encouraging them to “beware the scribes and pharisees.”  He proclaims them to be a “brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs” that look good on the outside, but hide death within.  Lastly, on his way out of town, Jesus looks upon the great edifice of the temple and proclaims that “Not one stone will be left on another, but every one will be thrown down.”  This outlandish claim shocks his disciples, but overheard will become a capital charge against Jesus in 3 short days. 

Today, consider the Kingdom of heaven.  It is free, but not cheap.  Dietrech Bonhoffer coined the term, “cheap grace”.   He wrote, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”  We must not ever think grace is free.  It cost Jesus everything.  He could have easily ducked the crowd, avoided the controversy, fled the scene.  But no, he engaged in the struggle, was falsely accused, and condemned to die so that we might forever live.  Praise be to His High and Holy Name.

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