Monday, February 22, 2016

Daily Devotional: February 22

The Purification of the Temple, Jacopo Bassano, 16th Century

Week 5, Day 1, The Gospel According to Matthew, Chapter 21

The cleansing of the Temple is easily one of the weirdest passages of the Gospel. Oftentimes it is misused by people trying to justify their own lust for violence. It is very rarely understood for what it is. Jesus' Guerrilla Interactive Theater Piece. 

Over the centuries, God's prophets had done crazy or dramatic things to draw attention to themselves and their messages. Jesus is aligning Himself squarely in this tradition. He is showing His place in the timeline of prophets bringing the Truth of God to the people of God. In Matthew's depiction of this event, Jesus turns a few tables over and then begins healing people and ministering to the needs of the people around Him.

Hosanna, save us from ourselves

If money can be made off of something, someone will find a way to make money off of it. That is one of the oldest rules of our species. In the case of the first century Temple of Jerusalem, the sacrificial system--a system that kept the people worried they were out of sorts with God--presented an opportunity to make a few people extremely wealthy. As people became convinced they needed to do more, buy more, give more, sacrifice more in order to keep God happy with them, they were met with open arms by people willing to take their money. It isn't hard to see the parallels in our culture today. So many people are still convinced by religious leaders that they aren't good enough, and if they just gave a bit more or did a bit more, Jesus will be happy.

Hosanna, save us from ourselves

Any system that keeps some people extremely wealthy and others extremely poor is the antithesis of the message of unconditional Love. Tables need to be turned in our society, in our hearts, and in our lives. We need to turn over the tables that keep people convinced they are worse than others. We need to turn over the tables that block anyone from the feeling of Love and acceptance offered by Christ. Jesus shows us that sometimes the Gospel looks less like KLove and more like Rage Against the Machine. 

Jesus turns the tables over, then begins ministering to the people there, because He had just removed anything that stood in the way of experiencing the healing Presence of God. We can't be effective followers of Jesus without calling out inequality, breaking down walls, and turning over societal tables of an unjust culture. 

We cry Hosanna today, acknowledging our need for a Savior, and asking for deliverance from a culture of greed. 

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.