This morning in my devotion time I read from Matthew 21… the cleansing of the temple. I have been using the daily reading book from The Message and there are always good questions that pull you into the stories and make me think.
This morning, I realized that following Jesus can give a person whiplash. I imagined myself in the midst of the temple, trying to resolve my own guilt and sin, working ou my own salvation, scraping together coins to pay for the doves or goat or whatever I needed for atonement… redemption. I remember this sickening feeling that others were profiting from my mistakes.
And in walks Jesus. I’ve heard about him… seen him once… and before I realize whats happening, the table where my doves were sitting in a cage has been overturned and the birds fly free… the guy who was charging me an arm and a leg for my ticket to redemption is on his heels looking for an exit. I feel so free in that moment… like the birds.
My sin ever present, I need healing as much as the disabled and ill who crowd around him. I press in closer and realize how fortunate I was to have been “in” the system already… I was struggling… but I was not a beggar. I had opportunities many of these never had to be here and connect with God and worship in this temple… and so I fall back and let others move ahead of me.
I want to be close and I want to give others a chance… I want salvation and in a way I feel like simply in the presence of Christ it is already mine. I feel joyful and free and giddy…
And then the priests come running out. I notice the commotion… birds flying free, goats crapping in a corner, kids running through the building, the wall of people around Jesus.
I… well, ‘m going to say it. I feel a bit ashamed. I’m not entirely sure why, but perhaps it is because these are figures of authority in my life. These have been he agents of God in my life. These are the people who always told me what salvation was. And I feel like I have betrayed them, like we are all doing something wrong.
There is a confrontation between them and Jesus and he turns his face against them and leaves as quickly as he came. And the shame and anxiety and yet residual joy and hope I felt co-mingle and I run after him. I wan to hear what he is saying. I am a flutter of so many emotions and yet I know the truest ones I felt were at his side.
Sometimes as we follow Christ we get a glimpse of possibility… only to have that hope squelched by the world, or parents, or our church… sometimes the people we have loved so dearly and who have loved us so dearly disappoint when it comes to sharing our new hopes. I’ve heard some of those stories recently and as my work… following Jesus… leads me deeper INTO the structure and the “insiders” my prayer is that I never forget that whiplash… never fail to hear Christ’s voice… never overlook those who are thoughtful and hungry and full of ideas and hopes and dreams right next to me for the sake of what I think I’m supposed to be doing.