Reading Large Chunks of Scripture
Today's chunk tells the story of Palm Sunday and the first day or so of Holy Week...up until about today. Jesus arrives in glory in the town. The crowd that is gathered welcomes him not only with hospitality but with admiration and anticipation. Is he the one? We've seen what he's done. We've heard the stories running through the press. Maybe he's the one to fulfill the ancient prophecies, to be the new king, the promised Messiah, to come and change things, to chase off the Romans, to bring the rich low and raise up the poor....could it be? Undoubtedly the crowd was not as big as we make it out to be...how could the whole town be for him and within 5 days be against him?
Well....today's chunk tells us how. I've been struck the last few days by the biting comments and polarizing statements by Ferraro, and the Obama and Clinton machines - comments that spew hate, anger, division and destruction in order to be chosen, to become the leader, to bring peace. It gives a glimpse into how a crowd can change so quickly.
Jesus makes much tougher comments. He's not talking in the abstract he's condemning his own people and their religious practice. If you thought Rev. Jeremiah Wright's comments about "God damn America" were inflammatory, then Jesus comparing the temps to a "den of thieves" is more than the equivalent in terms that were religious, cultural and nationalistic. Jesus marvels the crowd with his comments and actions, which they deem as offensive or below-such a famous one, but Jesus does as consistent with his vision. He doesn't call the people to warfare, to violent overthrow of the rich, the Romans or other oppressors. Instead he calls them to lives of prayer, of peace flowing from a passion for God's heart, priorities, and purpose. Is it any wonder that they quickly wanted to kill him? He not only didn't live up to their expectations, he actively and strategically subverted and challenged them, calling everyone to a new way of living by faith. Would we - would I - have done any differently?