“EWW! Mark, you’re gross!”
Shirlee walked into the Sunday School room, obviously annoyed already. “What’s gross about Mark this week,” she grumbled.
“He said the Pope has to make the Easter Bunny pregnant or there won’t be any Easter eggs, and that’s gross,” cried an indignant Ginny, as Mark and John howled with laughter.
“The Pope?” Shirlee glared at Mark. “Why would you bring up some doddering old fool who ignores the Bible for the traditions of man?”
“Geez, Shirlee, I was just telling her about Easter. She thinks it’s all about Easter eggs and bunnies, you know.”
“Does she?” Shirlee turned on Ginny. “Didn’t you read the paper I sent home with you last week, about eggs and bunnies?” Ginny gazed guiltily at her desk. John looked out the window, and Mark doodled on his notebook.
“Well, we will fix that,” snapped Shirlee. “I’ll tell you the real story of Easter!” Huffing with anger, she flumped into her chair and plonked her heavy Bible onto the desk. “The story begins at Passover, which we talked about last week. Jesus and His disciples were on the way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover,” Shirlee began.
“Jesus celebrated Passover?” John looked confused. “But you said Passover was about God making a name for Himself by tormenting and killing the Egyptians, and encouraging the Israelites to steal, which is a sin.”
“No, Mark said those things, John. Remember? He gave the lesson on the Passover. Though I guess it’s approximately correct.”
“Well, why would Jesus celebrate the killing of innocents, and stealing?”
Shirlee sighed. “How many times have I explained the Trinity to you, John? God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, remember? All three personalities of the one God.”
“John’s good at math, Shirlee. That’s his problem,” joked Mark. “He can’t figure out how 1 + 1 + 1 = 1!” Everybody laughed. Except Shirlee.
“This isn’t math class, and God is not bound by your silly rules of addition. Getting back to our story:
Jesus and His disciples were going to Jerusalem. Jesus sent two of His disciples into a nearby village, and told them that they would find an ass and a colt tied together and that they should bring them to Him. This was so the prophecy might be fulfilled, that the King would arrive sitting upon an ass and the foal of an ass. (Matthew 21:1-5)
“Not that again, Shirlee,” grumbled Mark. “Once again, they know the prophecy in advance, and then do the things required specifically so the prophecy can be fulfilled. And even call it out as why they did it! What more evidence do you need . . .”
“Of what, Mark? That it was all a plot within a single family, since Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins, to create a fake religious movement? I thought you got over that weird conspiracy theory of yours back at Christmastime! Really, let’s not get into that again, or Ginny will never know the true story of Easter.” Without waiting for a response, Shirlee turned back to her Bible and continued paraphrasing the text for the kids.
So Jesus rode on the ass and the colt, on a pile of the disciples clothes. As they went, lots of His followers gathered and threw their clothes on the road ahead of him, and palm fronds, and sang praises to Him. When they got to Jerusalem, the followers told the people of Jerusalem that He was Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth. Jesus went to the temple with a whip of small cords and threw over the tables of the moneychangers and the people who sold doves and such for sacrifices (John 2:15-6).
“That seems rude. Where else would people get their doves to kill as sacrifices?” asked John.
“They could buy them in the marketplace, John. Jesus was angry that there were people making a profit running their business in the temple, instead of worshiping God. That’s why He said that ‘It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.'” (Matthew 21:13)
“So He was mad that they were selling doves to be sacrificed to Him instead of praying to Him?”
“To God, John.”
“But Jesus is God, remember?”
“The earthly form of God, yes. Here to teach us and to be the ultimate sacrifice. Now, Jesus is going to perform some Easter miracles, so let’s get back to it!”
After driving out the moneychangers and salesmen and striking a blow against unregulated capitalism, Jesus healed a number of blind and lame people. The scribes and Pharisees were mad at Jesus for disrupting their temple with His showoffery, and were particularly disturbed by the multitude singing Jesus’ praises, and asked Him if He heard what they were saying. He said yes, and asked them whether they’d read that ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?’ They had no reply, so He left Jerusalem for the night.
“Did Jesus just call His followers babies?” Ginny thought that a rude thing to say.
Shirlee paused a moment. “Yes, I guess He did. Remember, He is eternal, so all of us are but infants by comparison.”
“But it sounded like He was comparing the followers to the Pharisees. That the followers were the toddlers.”
“Maybe He meant that they were innocent,” suggested Shirlee.
“Or ignorant,” added Mark.
“No, Mark. Innocent. Like babies. And then Jesus left Jerusalem for the day,” she continued, not looking up.
Jesus went to Bethany to stay for the night. The next morning, He was hungry. He saw a fig tree from far away, and it had fig leaves on it so He hoped to find figs. But alas, it was not yet time for figs, so there were none. So, Jess cursed the tree, that no man would ever eat fruit from it again. And the next day, they saw that the fig tree had died, dried up from the roots! (Mark 11:12-20)
“Jesus killed a fig tree for not having figs when it wasn’t fig season?”
“That’s right, John! It should have had figs for Him.”
“Out of season.”
“So He killed it.”
“Correct! And He explained to Peter that this was an example of faith in God, and that whatever we desire, if we pray for it and believe that we will receive it, indeed we shall! (Mark 11:21-24)”
“Even if it’s to kill a fig tree for not having figs when it’s not supposed to have figs.”
“Right! Now, let’s take a break, and then we’ll come back and continue with Part 2: The Last Supper!”