Jesus prepares his disciples for what will happen in the next few days.
Starting on Palm Sunday, the Church likes to slow down and follow in the footsteps of Jesus as he prepares his disciples for his Passion, death and resurrection. While most of the stories found in the Gospel accounts have no particular date or time reference, those that occurred during this week are relatively easy to find.
On Tuesday during Holy Week, only two days before Jesus’ betrayal on Holy Thursday, the Bible explains Jesus’ activities in and around Jerusalem (see Matthew 21-26).
Lesson of the fig tree
Jesus walks to Jerusalem from Bethany and notices a withered fig tree.
Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went over to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again.” And immediately the fig tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed and said, “How was it that the fig tree withered immediately?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith and do not waver, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:19-22)
Questioning of his authority
Shortly after entering the city of Jerusalem, Jesus goes up to the Temple. There the Pharisees and Sadducees try to trip him up, asking him about his authority.
When he had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things?And who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)
Parables on the Mount of Olives
Jesus engages in their questions, but soon enough departs from Jerusalem near the evening to return to Bethany. On his way back he stops at the Mount of Olives and relates various parables about the end times (see Matthew 24-26). He concludes his parables by preparing his disciples for what would happen next.
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:1-2)