If Matthew's Gospel were being performed as a drama, this is the point where the orchestra would suddenly strike an ominous chord. Something bad is about to happen.
Up north in Galilee, Jesus had been confronted at times by Pharisees and scribes. But now he is in the big city, and in the Temple area. Suddenly, for the first time, the chief priests and the elders appear on the scene.These people have power. These people are also the ones who are most threatened by what Jesus has just been doing - entering the city like a messiah, predicting the destruction of the Temple, driving the sellers and buyers from the Temple area.
These are the people who will succeed in having Jesus executed. All of a sudden, here they are looking him in the eye.
Why do we have a Gospel like this - which seems like it belongs in Lent - when we're ten days away from Christmas?!
Because we're preparing to celebrate the birth of the child who will grow up to confront the powers of evil and sin in this world . . . and will defeat them.
Now that's something to think about.
- Little Blue Book, December 15