Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holy Week -- Cleansing The Temple

But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people did not believe in him. This is exactly what the prophet had predicted: LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?
~ John 12: 37-38

We are in the midst of Holy Week. All over the world believers are prayerfully contemplating each sobering footstep of Jesus' sacred journey to the cross where their redemption was secured.

Have you ever taken time to piece together the last week of Jesus' life as told in the gospels? Last Sunday, Keith (Sr. Pastor at Christ Community Church) asked us to do so in preparation for Easter. The story is filled with dramatic events that capture and culminate the earthly ministry of Jesus. Each step was intended to leave a an emphatic message. In the next few posts I would like to look at Holy Week a couple of days at at time.

Looking back at Palm Sunday, as we now call it, we are left in disbelief. Would anyone have guessed that voices from the same throng that called out -- Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise God in the highest heaven -- would soon be spewing the blood-thirsty chants, Crucify him?

Before I move on to Monday, I want to preface it . . .

For a short time I was privileged to observe the life of Henry Blackaby from a fairly close distance. Henry is the most godly, humble, merciful, Christlike servant of God I have ever known. With a broken heart, the Elder Statesman preaches and pleads for the repentance, revival, and return of the Church to its Author and Finisher. He is the real deal.

More than once, I watched the same man put on the prophet's mantle, and with
holy fire in his eyes, preach against hollow piety and the spirit of religion. I recall a time when I sat beside him as a man turned the powerful message of the gospel into something akin to soliciting members for the local country club. When the man concluded, Henry turned to me and said, I don't know what that guy was offering, but it wasn't the gospel. No repentance . . . no mention of sin. Bill, don't you ever do that!

I can honestly say, I haven't . . .

That leads us into the Monday of Holy Week.

On Monday Jesus purposefully instigated direct conflict with the religious elite. Entering the Temple, he cleansed it -- not with the gentle flick of a wrist, and a few drops of sacred oil or water. Scripture paints the gentle Jesus with flashing eyes, consumed with the zeal of a holy vengeance -- absolutely ransacking the cash registers of greedy money changers.
Sounds of crashing furniture echoed off the temple pillars, and Jesus' voice thundered, You have made my Father's house of prayer a hideout for religious criminals! Those who profited from the penance of the very people they led astray were labeled a band of outlaws. The scene was chaotic as the flailing hooves of four-footed animals slipped and skidded and clopped across stone floors. Frenzied doves -- freed from their cages -- flew toward the nearest crack of daylight.

Have you ever continued on in that story?
The Son of God gave a display of a sanctified rampage, yet the blind and the lame came to him in the aftermath -- in the Temple -- and Jesus healed them. Children gathered around Jesus and sang praises to him. So much for prophetic preaching scaring away seekers . . .

There are churches where the need for teaching and comforting the saints needs to go out of vogue. Prophetic preaching is desperately needed. As in the Temple, Jesus needs to be brought in to clean up -- not cheer up -- the weekly gatherings. Unless that happens, the spiritually blind and lame will never come to find Jesus, and babes in Christ will never be singing his praises.

That is one of the dramatic messages Jesus left in the week of his passion.

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