November 17, 2019

Monday in Holy Week 2019

Monday in Holy Week 2019
Temple

When Jesus came closer and could see Jerusalem, he cried and said:

It is too bad that today your people don’t know what will bring them peace! Now it is hidden from them. Jerusalem, the time will come when your enemies will build walls around you to attack you. Armies will surround you and close in on you from every side. They will level you to the ground and kill your people. Not one stone in your buildings will be left on top of another. This will happen because you did not see that God had come to save you.

When Jesus entered the temple, he started chasing out the people who were selling things. He told them, “The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be a place of worship.’ But you have made it a place where robbers hide!”

• Luke 19:41-46

The way I’ve heard people talk about Jesus’ act of cleansing the temple is largely inaccurate and misses the point. This was not the day Jesus lost control. This was not about his anger. What he did was not an explosion of rage. Emotions were no doubt involved, but we are not to read this merely as an act of righteous personal indignation, acted out when the final straw had been added.

What Jesus did in the Temple in Holy Week was a prophetic action, a symbolic gesture — attention-getting in its violence, to be sure — and not a mere, spur of the moment expression of utter exasperation at the commercialization of the Temple grounds.

No, Jesus is pronouncing judgment on the whole Temple enterprise.

As Tom Wright explains:

The Temple had become the focal point of the national ideology. As in Isaiah’s day, it stood in the public imagination for the unshakeable promise of Israel’s God to keep Israel safe, come what may. Israel had to face the challenge that unless the promise was met with faith and obedience it would count for nothing, and indeed worse than nothing; it would turn into a curse. If you’re in covenant with the holy God, disobedience doesn’t simply prevent blessings, bringing you back, as it were, to square one. It calls down the judgment that a sorrowful God will pour out on his people when they reject him and his purposes.

You might think their history of having lost Temple, land, kingdom, and nation, and never having ever fully recovered from that might have created a sense of humility and openness to something new God could do in their midst. However, the fact that Jesus had to undertake this action shows that they were still placing their trust in the Temple as the presence, approval, and protection of God amongst them.

The Temple is a theme that reoccurs throughout this Holy Week as Jesus goes straight into the heart of his people’s religious life and presents himself as God’s promised One — the true incarnation of God — who came to truly restore them from exile and inaugurate God’s rule in their lives.

The dreadful alternative, should they reject his gracious offer of peace, is portrayed at the commencement of this Holy Week through Jesus’ striking prophetic action.

Comments

  1. If you’re in covenant with the holy God, disobedience doesn’t simply prevent blessings, bringing you back, as it were, to square one. It calls down the judgment that a sorrowful God will pour out on his people when they reject him and his purposes.

    And in what way did Israel fail that the Church in its subsequent long history of unfaithfulness hasn’t? Has it not put its own equivalents of the Temple at the center of its ideology, sometimes tantamount to a national ideology, rather than faithful relationship to the living God? Why should we believe that we haven’t been brought back to square one again and again, and aren’t being brought back there this very moment, if Israel was, and by just as severe a judgment?

    • “And in what way did Israel fail that the Church in its subsequent long history of unfaithfulness hasn’t?”

      The only way I can think of is they had Jesus actually physically present with them when they rejected Him.

      “Why should we believe that we haven’t been brought back to square one again and again”

      *looks around at the state of the American church*

      Why indeed.

      • And the Church has had and has Jesus totally present to it, through the Holy Spirit, when it has rejected and continues to reject him again and again, and by present by the power of his resurrection and ascension. The Church’s betrayal must surely be greater than Israel’s.

        The American church — yes, indeed. Under a judgement no less severe, or merciful, than Israel’s.

    • Burro (Mule) says

      Oh, I dunno Robert.

      I’ve been to some pre-t-t-t-t-y liberal churches, the kind of churches that talk about God the Parent and sing ‘Bakerwoman’ unironically, but I’ve never seen a statuette of Krishna on the communion table.

      I’ve been to some pret-t-t-t-y conservative churches, where they routinely have Bring Your Gun to Church days, and read imprecatory Psalms over judges who issue pro-choice rulings, but I have never seen a statuette of Yamantaka in the foyer.

      Read Ezekiel 8. However you parse it, that’s some pretty nasty stuff for people to be doing in the Temple. Although, to be honest, the Exile weaned the Jews from this level of synchretism.

      Yet somehow, I don’t think the people of God are supposed to triumph. Google “Tolkien and the Long Defeat” and read some of the articles that present themselves across the theological spectrum. Pay special attention to Andrew Barber’s and Fr. Stephen Freeman’s articles.

      And as long as you think that the idolatries and failures of the Church are something that Those Other Idiots do, you have met the enemy and he (or she) is you.

      • Careful with your examples. “Bring Your Gun to Church Day” rather makes Robert’s point for him does it not?

        Tolkien and the long defeat. There is something refreshing about pure unadulterated nostalgia for the medieval. In the Shire everyone knows their place and no one ever dies from an abscessed tooth or from ignorance of the germ theory of disease. How many of us passionately hold onto philosophies contradicted every time we walk into a room and turn on a light switch?

        • Burro (Mule) says

          There is no inherent contradiction between a society that uses light switches and a society where everyone knows their place, (and stays there, to close the loop).

          I offer Singapore as an example.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            In my experience, whenever someone is a fan of a “society where everyone knows their place and stays there”, they usually feel that THEY’re the one whose place is obviously On Top.

            • Almost invariably, except for those with masochistic tendencies.

            • And Jesus made a career out of flipping those hierarchies on their heads (as well as flipping over currency exchange booths).

      • And as long as you think that the idolatries and failures of the Church are something that Those Other Idiots do, you have met the enemy and he (or she) is you.

        What in my comments led you to think that I believe only Those Other Idiots are responsible for the failures of the Church?

        I’m rather more concerned about nationalism and tribalism as the underlying idolatries of both ancient Israel and the Church in America than about statuettes of Krishna or even guns in the sanctuary. It is such nationalism and tribalism that leads us to refusing to recognizing the image of God in refugees and immigrants, and in our gun-loving neighbors next door.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Why should we believe that we haven’t been brought back to square one again and again, and aren’t being brought back there this very moment, if Israel was, and by just as severe a judgment?

      During my time In-country (the peak of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay), “as severe a judgment” meant one and only one thing: GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR.

      And there were a LOT of preachers who constantly reminded you of that FACT.

      • Unlike them, I don’t believe God had anything to do with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, nor that he was judging the U.S. in the 9/11 attacks — I do not believe his judgments take such forms. I was only trying to make the point that the Church down through the ages has been as guilty as Israel of putting nationalism and tribalism in the place of God. God’s severe mercy to my thinking is no more nor less than his silence in the face of our personal and communal suffering.

        • ” the Church down through the ages has been as guilty as Israel of putting nationalism and tribalism in the place of God”

          Or even worse, conflating them.

  2. . The Church’s betrayal must surely be greater than Israel’s. The church’s betrayal is our own individual betrayal. I just ask the Lord for mercy for what I have left undone. It seems to easy to criticize the church when we are the church.

    • anonymous says

      “It seems to easy to criticize the church when we are the church.”

      yet we must examine our own consciences and be repentant or we fail to be a part of ‘the Body of Christ’

  3. I don’t know how to think about the church’s checkered history and present. I’m not a prophet nor the son of one. I’m simply trying to read the story of Jesus and what it says is he came at a particular time, offered himself as the hope of Israel and the world, warned them of the coming calamity, and wept at the failure of all save a few to respond.

    • Norma Cenva says

      I concur Chaplain Mike.
      Everyone it seems has his or her own take on what Jesus meant whether way back in the times he walked, or what he means in times present.
      I hope it doesn’t sound too trite or simplistic, but the old 80s song Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Tears for Fears) comes to mind.

  4. It’s very poignant to read this scripture and post after seeing reports and video of the burning of Notre Dame Cathedral. I visited twenty years ago and this just breaks my heart. To have it happen during Holy Week seems to give it some kind of special meaning.

    • Christiane says

      a millenium of historical events were witnessed within the walls of that beautiful cathedral . . . . so much history . . . . the world mourns with the people of Paris for their loss

      • Pellicano Solitudinis says

        Our national classical radio station is playing Faure’s Requiem right now, having just interviewed an organist who has performed on the Notre Dame organ.

    • It is heartbreaking, not least for the communities that call Notre Dame their church home. Too terrible to wrap my mind around — a blow in the solar plexus.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        If anyone turns the burning of Notre Dame into an Act of God Judging Romish Popery, you have my blessing to punch them in the junk.

        • I’m afraid they may turn it into a terrorist attack by a Moslem before any evidence is in….conspiracy “theories” (do we have to dignify them with that name?) will proliferate.

          • anonymous says

            or encouraged by Steve Bannon who is out to get Pope Francis big time

            • And Bannon, who calls himself a Christian, is stoking nationalist fires not unlike the ones that made Israel believe that its national identity, rather than its loyalty to the living God, was the most important thing. That’s why Bannon has come out against the pope, because Francis has had nothing but criticism for resurgent nationalist movements in Europe and the rest of the world.

              • Christiane says

                Hello Robert F.

                I don’t think Francis has any problem being against ‘nationalist’ movements that cover for hatred and destruction, no.

                You know, I always wondered how could wealthy people ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ human beings before the Civil War (my mother’s family owned slaves then) and even sell away a ‘slave’ woman’s children and infants and break her heart;
                and then I look at the heartbreak of the caged and separated children at the border and I realize that the evil WAS possible, DID happen, and IS happening again . . . .

                where does all the hatred come from ? and all the greed?

                seems to me that ‘nationalism’ is more like breaking a nation apart for the sake of some horrific agenda that awards power to the wealthy and has no shame of how vulnerable people are treated, even children . . . .

                strange days, history repeats itself . . . . the faces change, but the tears cried are as human as the ones cried by ‘slave’ mothers and their ‘sold-away’ little ones . . . . what have we become in this country if we cannot stop persecuting the children???

                • Thank you for this, Christiane.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  seems to me that ‘nationalism’ is more like breaking a nation apart for the sake of some horrific agenda that awards power to the wealthy and has no shame of how vulnerable people are treated, even children . . . .

                  While the Christians chorus “AAAAAAAA-MENNNNNN! WE WIN! WE WIN! WE WIN!”

          • Christiane says

            these ‘conspiracy theories’ are a kind of ‘hate crime’, like the one ginned up by Alex Jones who told his ‘followers’ that the parents of the murdered children of Sandy Hook Elementary School were actors and that the whole story was a ‘hoax’ . . . . whereupon some of his followers threatened the poor bereaved parents and then, they turned around and are suing Jone’s tail, and I hope they win and the jury asked how MUCH can he be sued for, ‘we want to increase it’

            I know ‘conspiracy theories’ amuse people, but some of them are ‘weaponized’ against vulnerable people and those responsible for hurting the vulnerable among us deserve to be held to account as the criminals they are.

            • Lets not dignify them with the world “theory”; let’s call them what they are — conspiracy fantasies.

        • Norma Cenva says

          I was just going to say, give the fundagelical ‘prophesy’ crowd a few days and they’ll come up with something.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I’m surprised they haven’t been already blasting it on the airwaves.

            Fulfillment of such-and-such End Time Prophecy, Chapter and Verse, Rapture Rapture Rapture, “COME QUICKLY LOOOOOOORD JEEEEESUS!”

            (Yes, I’m a survivor of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay and Jack Chick. Almost 40 years later, the scars are still there. Like Frodo after he returned to the Shire.)

    • Patriciamc says

      Amen.

  5. I see a new book by John Hagee in the works. 🙂