Tuesday of Holy Week :
The Three Years
In the early morning Jesus
enters the city with His disciples once more. The waves of acclamation
and enthusiasm have long since died away. Jesus is already involved
in the tension of His coming decision, but He will be obedient
to the Law up to the last moment and fulfill the sacred customs
of preparation for the Passover. There is the feeling that He
Himself is the sacrifice to be offered. The people's hatred is
already surging up to Him as flames that will consume the sacrifice.
From day to day the powerful sense of His spiritual presence
in the city has increased. The more silent the crowds, the more
majestically His sovereign will shines in His countenance. Now
the day of Mars has been reached and the conflict flares up in
earnest. The crowd is silent; their leaders are full of anxiety;
their fear produces the hatred which leads to the attack. Every
hostile group sends out assailants. One after another they accost
Him with their crafty questions. What would otherwise be a blow
in the face or a dagger-thrust takes on the guise of questioning.
First of all the members of
the Jewish Sanhedrin approach, i.e., the High Priests, Scribes
and Elders. They ask Jesus what authority He has for His actions;
He is required to legalize Himself. Then come the others, the
Pharisees and the Herodians, and put the insidious question:
"Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?" The Sadducees
follow. They ask Jesus' opinion concerning the resurrection of
the dead. Finally, a single question, intending to expose Him
before all the people, asks which commandment He considers the
most important of all.
These attacks, marking the
outbreak of hostilities, are the best proof of how strongly the
Being of Christ was making itself felt. Just as dogs bark and
bite only when they are afraid, so these ostensible questions,
which are really arrows of hate, are the outcome of fear.
Jesus answers each of the
four questions. He is not satisfied, however, with parrying the
blows aimed at Him; He accepts battle and fights back with weapons
of the spirit. He uses powerful pictures. During the three previous
years He has spoken to the people in poetic parables, and to
the disciples in parables of deep mystery. To His opponents He
now speaks parables of conflict. He tells the Parable of the
Husbandmen to whom the vineyard has been entrusted; how they
afterwards refuse to surrender the harvest, slay the owner's
messengers, and finally even his son. The opponents realize that
they themselves are meant. In fact, Jesus is telling His enemies
that they will slay Him. His parable is a last endeavor to reach
the soul of His enemies. Perhaps it may yet bring them to an
awakening; perhaps even now they may be shocked into self-knowledge.
The parable of the Royal Marriage
Feast follows. Guests are called to the marriage, and they all
excuse themselves from attending. Then the invitation is passed
on to strangers, to people who seem to have no occasion for coming.
Because the duly licensed and established seekers after God have
proved to be hypocrites, God finally summons people whom one
would not credit with seeking the Divine. This is a direct thrust
at His opponents, who are the privileged church people by ancient
tradition. But when the fate of those wearing no wedding garment
is described, a stern mirror is held up before the whole of humanity.
The Parable of the King's Marriage Feast is the strongest thrust
dealt on the Mars day of Passion Week, directed ultimately to
The Christ goes further; He
now questions back: "Whose son is the Messiah?" He
asks. They answer: "He is David's son." Christ cites
the words of the 110th Psalm, well known to them, to show that
David describes the Messiah as his Lord. He asks, "How can
David call the Christ his Lord, when it appears that he is his
son?" Christ exposes the superficial piety of his questioners;
they are looking only at the earthly. The first step towards
grasping the divine is to see that the Messiah is a Son of God
and not a son of men. Christ is showing them at this moment what
they should recognize in Him, but they do not recognize it.
And so it comes to the fourth
counterblow. This is the ninefold "Woe," the denunciation
of the Pharisee's which is followed by the lament over Jerusalem,
as over a world doomed to destruction. At the beginning of His
work, in the trusted circle of the disciples, Jesus once pronounced
the nine Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, the nine-fold
ideal of Spirit-Man. Now at the close of His earthly path He
sets the nine-fold shadow over against the nine-fold Light. The
Denunciations are a combative unmasking of those who are inimical
to God, just as the Beatitudes were a revelation of man's nine-fold
relation to God. In the lamentation over Jerusalem there is the
reverse of the promise of the "city set upon a hill,"
which in the Sermon on the Mount calls up for the first time
the picture of the heavenly Jerusalem.
As the day begins to decline,
Jesus leaves the city with His disciples, as was His custom.
He climbs the hill of Gethsemane beyond the vale of Cedron, and
enters the garden which had been the scene of so much intimate
teaching; but He does not continue towards Bethphage and Bethany.
At the top of the Mount of Olives, where a wonderful peace surrounds
them, He makes the disciples rest. Still imbued with the conflict
which has been waged all day, He begins to speak to His disciples
in the open air for the last time. And the words with which He
instructs them are no less powerful than those He has spoken
in the spiritual fight with His opponents. The courageous deeds
which have been accomplished by the soul during the day call
up an echo from the Gods. The Christ can make revelations to
His disciples as never before. What He gives on this evening,
sometimes known as "the Little Apocalypse," opens vast
horizons of the future.
So it is always in life. If
real deeds have ripened during the day, then evening and night
call down a heavenly echo. The results of a day do not only lie
in what has been directly achieved. When the activities of the
day have knocked on the doors of the spiritual world, then with
night descending the gates of another world can open. Genuine
inner strength employed during the day is met by a spiritual
The present moment becomes
translucent. All through the day the disciples have been with
Christ near the Temple. He has shown them that it is all doomed
to destruction. The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was
a spiritual necessity and it had not come to pass four decades
later through the Roman army, it would have had to be brought
about in some other way. As the vision of the downfall of the
Temple rises before the disciples, a great cosmic catastrophe
seems to shine through it. It is the downfall of a whole world
that the Christ sets before their souls. The division, manifest
all day between the hostile opponents and the little band striving
for discipleship -- this too becomes translucent. The history
of the world will bring nothing less than a great dividing of
mankind. Some strive towards the divine; others strive against
it. And no matter how imposing what is accomplished on earth
by the antagonists, it is only the outcome of a hidden fear.
That which silently germinates in the little group seeking union
with the divine will bear in itself the future of the world.
Jesus continues the apocalyptic
discourse, and gives the disciples the most intimate parables
that He can possibly give them, the two parables of the Second
Coming. He had already spoken of the Son of Man coming in the
clouds, while all around the universal storm is raging. He had
pointed to a future where a new revelation of Christ must force
a way for itself amidst hurricanes of destruction. Now, in the
two parables of the Ten Virgins and the Talents, He shows the
disciples what people must do to prepare themselves for the return
of the Christ. Some day the Bridegroom of the soul will come;
some day the One who entrusted the talents to his servants when
He went way, will come again to claim the reckoning. Down below
in the Temple the "woe, woe" sounded as anti- beatitudes;
now the day ends with another Sermon on the Mount, one even more
sublime. With this final and most intimate teaching Christ arms
the disciples with equipment of courage for millennia ahead.
The parables of the Second Coming, and in particular the concluding
vision of the division of mankind into sheep and goats, are to
serve the disciples as provision on the road for many incarnations.
The words of the Tuesday in
Holy Week, taken together, are wonderfully relevant to every
battle of light with darkness, every struggle for Christian discipleship
in conflict with Christ's enemies. Goethe's statement that world
history is nothing else than a continuous fight of belief against
unbelief touches the truth that is given in all detail during
the Tuesday of Holy Week. All opposition to Christ and hostility
to the Spirit has its root in unbelief, in deeply hidden weakness
and fear. Discipleship of Christ means courage and strength.
The battle is not necessarily fought by one group of men against
another. It must be carried on within ourselves. In each human
soul fear and courage, opposition to Christ and discipleship
of Christ, are mingled.
The fighting parables directed
against Christ's opponents make it clear that fear is always
at the root of enmity to the spirit. The egotism of the husbandmen
of the vineyard, who are unwilling to surrender the fruits of
the harvest, is the offspring of inner weakness and fear-- as
is every egotism. When a man learns to leave and sacrifice all
because he realized that all he can ever possess is the property
of God, the first seed of courage is born.
The denunciations uttered
by Christ are an ever plainer unmasking of unbelief. They begin
at once with words which tear away the mask not only of denial
of the spirit, but of every kind of dragooning of human souls:
"Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees! For ye shut up the
kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves
neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."
To work upon one's own soul
demands the greatest courage. The wedding garment is the soul
become radiant through purification and prayer. The oil in the
lamps is a picture of the forces of the soul to be won by struggle.
The talents increased by personal effort are the spiritual organs
in man brought to further development.
In His answer concerning the
tribute money, Jesus shows that true courage attained through
constant inner effort is able to hold the balance between earthly
duties and spiritual ideals, and in so doing gains sovereignty
over all earthly conditions. Even if, as at that time, a monster
occupies the throne, He is able to say "Render to Caesar
the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things which are
In the concluding vision of
the dividing of mankind, the true quality of inner courage is
described: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the
least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." The
true path to the spirit shows itself in the power to love. Love
is the opposite of fear. All genuine inner development begins
with inner courage and finds its goal in love. True love of men
is identical with love for Christ Himself, so His words of spiritual
battle end in words of love.