This is post #4 of a series entitled RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 27 podcasts and blogs that focuses a bit deeper on the first five days of what we now call Holy Week. Using the Gospel text found in Matthew 21 through 25, we explore the major differences between organized religion and true relationship with Christ. Practical sessions that give us Jesus’ view of spirituality as compared to the religiousness found in so many people today. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text: “My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves.” Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and He healed them. When the religious leaders saw the outrageous things He was doing, and heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, “Hosanna to David’s Son!” they were up in arms and took Him to task. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” Jesus said, “Yes, I hear them. And haven’t you read in God’s Word, ‘From the mouths of children and babies I’ll furnish a place of praise’?” Fed up, Jesus turned on His heel and left the city for Bethany, where He spent the night. Matthew 21: 12-17 (MsgB)
It should never be lost that the very first action Jesus takes after entering into God’s Holy City on Palm Sunday is to go immediately to the Temple and start rearranging the furniture!
You see, it was no accident that Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Selma, Alabama in March of 1965. Historians look back at the horrific events of Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965) and know that when King responded by assembling 1,900 peaceful protesters to march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, the nation was watching. Within a few months after King’s powerful speech from the steps of the state capitol (March 25, 1965), President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, opening the door of new-found freedom for millions of African-Americans across the fruited plain of America.
Where did King get his ideas for peaceful resistance? How did MLK find the strength to stand against the horrors of modern-day racism?
Many believe that King, a passionate follower of Jesus of Nazareth, took his cue from the Master, Himself. And it was Palm Sunday, 33 A.D. in Jerusalem, God’s Holy City, when one impassioned leader of a grass-roots movement stood up boldly, sounding a shout of freedom for all to hear.
You see, the religious order of the day held all control over how the common people of Israel could or couldn’t worship God. A long-held system of power held all the cards when it came to how the Temple was run. Even the outer courts of the Temple, which were to be held open for the poor, the outcast, the foreigners, and others had been pirated by Temple priests, turning it into a money-making machine. Now instead of being a designated place for the under-served to be in God’s presence, the Temple Outer Courts had become a carnival of sorts, populated by dishonest money-changers, over-priced farm animals, and other assorted cheats and swindlers.
But on this Sunday afternoon, God was about to make a scene that would catch the attention of friends and foes alike. In an intentional act of freedom, designed to make a definitive statement to all, Jesus goes berserk; tipping over tables, tossing coins in the air, setting both livestock and doves free to fly the coop.
Yowsers! What a chaotic mess.
All done as an intentional way of saying to the religious order of the day…
Time’s up! Your oppressive control over God’s people is coming to an end!
It’s time for a new order of religious freedom!
Time for a new way of doing business with God and with each other!
So, whether it be Jerusalem 33 A.D. or Selma, Alabama 1965, the message is the same.
God’s freedom has come!
Hallelujah. Who will join with us?
My Prayer: It’s obvious, God, that freedom is rarely free and standing up for what’s right can often look wrong to some. But You, Jesus, demonstrated so well for us the zeal of God while also holding to a model of peaceful resistance that can still work effectively today. Holy Spirit, empower me to be actively involved for God’s work of freedom, as it is moving in my world today. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions to Ponder: So, where is God’s freedom needed today? How might the religious order of today be pressing down the poor, the oppressed, the outcast, and the foreigner? What actions of peaceful resistance might I need to become involved in so that I follow in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth, Martin Luther King Jr., and other freedom fighters who have gone before me?
So, what are you hearing from Jesus as we take this journey into the first 5 Days of Holy Week?
Religion or Relationship: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ.
A 27-session Lenten blog series from Matthew’s Holy Week Gospel.
Throughout the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday), you and I will take a deeper look at Matthew 21-25. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!