Tuesday of Holy Week has been referred to as “Entrapment Tuesday.” Knowing the religious leaders are seeking to trap Him, on Holy Tuesday Jesus used a lot of words to teach, rebuke, warn, and challenge. In Mark’s version of the events that transpired that day, Jesus implored the disciples to do one thing in the months and years to come. In at least seven different ways, Jesus begged the disciples to watch. To look. To be alert. To be on guard. To see things. (Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 29, 33, 37)
The last thing Jesus pleaded with His disciples to do (according to Mark’s version) prior to the events that happened in the Upper Room (Maundy Thursday) was to look. See. Watch. After He ascended, He wanted them to carefully see.
Why? Because the ways of God, the ways of His kingdom, the path of Jesus is unnoticed by the world. It’s almost invisible. It’s the opposite of what culture says to notice.
Consider what Jesus says just prior to His litany of exhortations to “watch” in chapter 13. . .
“He also said this in his teaching, ‘Beware of the scribes, who want to go around in long robes and who want greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and say long prayers just for show. These will receive harsher judgment.‘” (Mark 12:38-40)
Translation: Be leery of those who draw attention to themselves. Watch out for those whom everyone is in awe of, especially in the religious world.
And then . . .
“Sitting across from the temple treasury, he watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury. Many rich people were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. Summoning his disciples, he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had – all she had to live on.'” (Mark 12:41-44)
Translation: Of all the people and the huge amounts of money being given at the temple, Jesus noticed the least noticed. Jesus noticed the smallest. What caught Jesus’s attention was the poor, pitiful (in the eyes of the world) widow woman.
If you are keeping score, it’s unnoticeable widows – 1; high falootin religious leaders – 0. Jesus wants us to see. Watch. Look. Be alert for.
And then, the very next thing Mark records is a disciple telling Jesus to notice something:
“As he was going out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Teacher, look! What massive stones! What impressive buildings!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Do you see these buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another – all will be thrown down.'” (Mark 13:1-2)
Translation: Jesus isn’t impressed by big and fancy. Jesus isn’t concerned with glitz and glitter. Jesus is always quick to put perishable things into perspective.
If you are keeping score, it’s unnoticeable widows – 1; high falootin religious leaders – 0; big, ornate, man-made structures representing human strength – 0.
Or, to put it another way: Big money and powerful people – 0; Unnoticed religious leaders worshiping God – 1; Humans depending on the strength and power of God – 1.
After these three accounts, Jesus pleads seven times for His disciples to notice. Watch. Look. See. Pay attention. Be alert. Why? Because if we aren’t careful, we will miss the work of God and the power of the kingdom that is right under our noses. We will miss the widows for the big money. We will miss the priest who worships God for the priest who is high and mighty and popular and powerful. We will miss the poor folks living in awe of God for the tall, ornate, buildings constructed as altars to mankind’s strength.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, yeast, a grain of wheat. If we aren’t careful, we miss it. We’ll miss the widow fully relying on God for the lady getting out of the Mercedes. We’ll miss the message God has for our soul’s for the slick preacher that everyone is in awe of. We’ll miss the point of worship for the renovated building. I fear we miss the work of God and the kingdom of God in our midst because our minds and hearts and ears and eyes are trained to notice the big, the flashy, the powerful, the popular, the rich.
Could it be that we are missing the work of God right in front of us? Could the person in front of us not “fit” our understanding of how God works? Could the smaller crowd than we were hoping for contain God’s presence? Could that man or woman that seems so annoying be the one God has sent to us to experience His presence and peace and power? Are we looking? Do we see? Do we notice? Are we alert to the work of God according to the way He works? Or are we missing it because we are alert to the way the world thinks God is working?
It’s Holy Tuesday. Be alert. God’s presence is real. Close. Near. Don’t miss the widow. She’s where Jesus is focused.