Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just as I am...

[From Jan. 4, 2013]

"And Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple."
(Mark 11:15-16)

It was his first day back in the big city... a city he'd been to countless times before.  But this wasn't just ANY big city... this was THE BIG CITY!  The center of life & faith!  JERUSALEM!  And the focal point of this city was undoubtedly the temple.  So it's no surprise that's where he went first.  But it was late.  So all he seemed to do was look around & leave.

The following day was a completely different story.  Once inside, he immediately began to shake things up.  Money changers had their tables overturned.  Merchants selling sacrificial animals were driven off.  The place was in chaos!  And then Mark tells us something peculiar about what Jesus did next: "...and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple" (Mark 11:16).

That one sentence struck me as quite strange.  Why not?  Was it the vendors he was trying to keep out (or at least keep out their "wares")?  Or was this truly directed towards everybody?  If so, why would he not want regular worshipers to bring things in, like their sacrifices?  Could it be that people had gotten too caught up with the "doing" of worship (ie. what animals to bring, how much money, what specific procedures were needed to carry out these "obligations," etc.) that they had no longer recognized the simple power of BEING in God's presence?  Could it be that he was physically demonstrating God's words from scripture, "I desire your heart, not your sacrifice"?

What would it mean today for us to be forbidden to "carry anything through the temple"?  What would it mean to strip away all of the familiar patterns of worship?  All of those rituals we've come to find comforting? All of the "stuff we do" on Sunday mornings... so that all that's left is just US AND GOD?  "Just as I am, without one plea..." goes the old hymn.  Maybe Jesus was on to something?!

Lord, help me unburden myself before you.  Let me let go of the need "to do" certain things before you.  Help me un-clutter all of those things that get in the way of me being with you.  Truly with you.  Just as I am.  AMEN.

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