The biggest, brightest supermoon of 2020 will rise tonight, the evening of Holy Tuesday. A moon is considered super when it’s within 90 percent perigee, or closest to the earth, and also full. While this supermoon will be closest during the afternoon, the best time to view it will be tonight after the sun goes down.
The significance of Holy Tuesday, which occurs during the Holy Week leading up to Christ’s resurrection, or Easter, holds wonder and majesty, and it’s fitting that foreshadowing our Lord’s rising from the grave on Easter, a supermoon will fill the night sky this evening.
In a single day, over two-thousand years ago, our Lord & Savior was challenged, discredited, and then prepared by God for what was destined to come. The events of Holy Tuesday are examples of spiritual strength, mental fortitude, and unyielding resilience, all of which Jesus embodied and demonstrated in the face of extreme adversity.
This Holy Tuesday, as the supermoon rises and brightens the dark, night sky, let us consider the Lord’s strength, thank him for his grace, mercy, and compassion in our lives, and delve deep into the scriptural events that led up to Jesus' death.
The Sanhedrin tried to trap Jesus into stating his deity—that he had divine power from God—so that they could arrest and charge him with blasphemy. Knowing their motives, Jesus turned the tables on the Sanhedrin by first posing his own question:
Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”
“They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘from heaven’, he will ask, ‘then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” –Matthew 21:23-27
As religious officials, it was the Sanhedrin’s duty to know the difference between true and false prophets. Regardless of whether or not they acknowledged John the Baptist as holy, by Jesus claiming he has been acting in the authority of John the Baptist, he positioned himself with a beloved figure. The Sanhedrin knew that if they stated John was of human origin, John’s followers would riot.
The Sanhedrin’s conspiracy to get rid of Jesus escalated from there to the extent that they became suddenly willing to unite forces with longstanding enemies of Israel—the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees.
This second, stronger effort to discredit Jesus and his holy power came like an onslaught. When the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into anarchistic claims against Caesar, but the Lord was far wiser. When the Sadducees tried to trap him into giving a poor response about the resurrection, he wielded scripture against them and won. And when Jesus raises the question of whose son is the messiah, the Pharisees and Sadducees stumble over their own answer once Jesus cuts through it with the sharp sword of his holy mind.
The nations religious leaders of the time were hypocritical and guilty of unbelief, Jesus warned his disciples and the crowds that followed him. He wanted the truth that had been hidden by these leaders to be revealed to the people. Pronouncing seven condemnations, or “woes”, Jesus warned that the false religion that was prevalent throughout Israel was abhorrent to God. When questioned, Jesus maintained that the Ten Commandments could be lived as two:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on to these two commandments.” –Matthew 22:34-40
Towards the end of his Holy Tuesday, Jesus uttered his final lament over the city of Jerusalem because his people still would not believe:
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” –John 12:37-40
Though Jesus’ heart was heavy due to Israel’s lack of faith, he encouraged them to be faithful, watchful, and prepared.
Soon the Temple would be destroyed and Jerusalem with it.
What you’ve read here is an invitation to be bold, strengthened with remembrance of our Lord’s resurrection. Have risk-taking faith. Enjoy the creation but worship only the creator as you gaze up at the supermoon, and know that our Lord is behind it all.