Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rightous Anger

"And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons."

I was struck recently by the qoute of my freind Phil Crawford recently at a core meeting of Mosaic, he said that often we veiw God through the eyes of grace, we don't focus on God the peacemaker, a God who rightiously defends the weak and lonely. The God who does his darnest to defend the outcast, to bring grace to the foreigner.

When we read the Gospels, we often read them through our 21st centuary eyes and if you are from a christian background, you read the gospels with scales on your eyes built up from years and years of hearing the story and developing a film of ideas the cloggs your vision. When I read the story of Jesus and the temple, I first go, thats interesting, forgetting its importance. At best I think, that strange, Jesus the son of God is having a tantrum, what does that mean for me?

Now context time. If you know a little about the Herodian Temple, you will know that there were a number of areas, there was the centre of the temple "the holy of hollies", which was the most sacred place in the temple, then there was the Court of the Priests, where the priests of the temple would do sacrifices, then there was the court of the isrealites, this was exclusively set aside for Jewish men to enter, then there was the court of women, for women to enter, then finally there was the court of the gentiles, where Gentiles were able to go in. The whole temple compound was considered holy (shown by the fact orthodox jews pray to this day at the wailing wall.

The place where the money changers were selling goods was the court of the Gentiles. Jesus was angry for I beleive a couple of reasons, one, these money changers were taking advantage of poor people. Mark specifically notes that in his gospel that Jesus overturned the tables of those who were selling pigeons. In the torah, it stated that if you were not wealthy enough to bring a lamb you could bring a pigeon to sacrifice instead. The point of the sacrifice system was to worship God not earn a quick buck at the sake of the poor,, and Jesus took his anger out of the commercialisation of what was meant to be sacred.

I also beleive Jesus was angry because the only area where Gentiles could come had been taken over by money lenders. It stopped Gentiles from joining in on the grace that God offered them. By doing this, the religous leaders were going against Gods call on Isreal to be a light to all nations, as they had stopped access to the gentles to this.

We often do not take this story seriously and forget its importance. But in all the gospels, this story signals the demise of Jesus. Jesus completely pisses off the authorities, they are scared by the revolutionary nature of his message and worried that he will lead to their demise.

We are currently doing a series at Mosaic called the peacemaker, focusing in on the life of Jesus, how he was a peacemaker and the call on our lives to be a peacemaker. Peacemaking does not mean we are nice people, it means we fight for justice, for the underdog, we care for the lonely and hungry. It may mean we rankle the powers to get our point across, that Jesus is a saviour who is passionately for the poor and the brokenhearted and as his followers, we are too called to be for the poor and brokenhearted.

The challenge put down at Mosaic this week was look out for the small fires in our life, the small injustices that occur, but really represent bigger issues in the world, and when are put together look like one huge fire. The call was to be courageous and take it on.

What is a small forest fire in your life?

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