Sunday’s Scripture – March 7, 2021
It’s easy, and even tempting sometimes, to focus solely on the softer side of Jesus. In the words of the bumper sticker and t-shirt: “Jesus is my homeboy.”
Jesus is nothing less than our friend, of course, but he’s also our judge. After all, the Bible calls God an “all-consuming fire.” And, even friendship with Jesus requires obedience. (See John 15:14)
Some think the Old Testament God is different than the New Testament Jesus. The former is wrathful and mean, the latter kind and gentle, they claim. But Christian doctrine affirms they, along with the Holy Spirit, are the same God. Jesus is the full-revelation of God: both grace and truth, mercy and justice, loving and holy. We must keep these seemingly opposing characteristics in tension. If we don’t, we create God in our own image, believing only in a God we feel comfortable with, not the One, True God.
If there’s ever a season of the Church Year in which we acknowledge the seemingly harsher qualities of Jesus, it is Lent. The lectionary reading for this Sunday is a good example.
In John 2:13-22, we see Jesus travel from Capernaum to Jerusalem in order to celebrate the Passover like a faithful Hebrew. There, he finds that the temple has become a marketplace. Money changers are selling sacrificial cattle, sheep, and doves, no doubt exploiting people’s desire to offer a proper sacrifice.
Zeal for God’s house consumed Jesus to the point that he made a whip of cords and drove all the animals out of the temple. Next he poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned their tables. Then he gives a stern command to those involved: “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”
Reading this story alongside Psalm 19 reminds us the law of the Lord is perfect, decrees sure, precepts right, commandments clear, and ordinances true. (Psalm 19:7-9) God sets the standard, which God reveals in the inspired words of Scripture and in the Word-Made-Flesh, Jesus Christ. These are the straight edges with which our bent and curved lives must align.
Lent in an opportunity to re-align our crooked hearts with God again. Remember: it’s God’s kindness (not his wrath!) that leads us to repentance. May we thank God for the opportunity before us, and accept it with joy.
- In what ways are you tempted to create God in your own image?
- What thoughts, desires, actions do you need to let Jesus overturn in you this Lent? In the quietness of your heart, confess this before God and offer it to God.
- How is your Lenten journey so far? Reaffirm your commitment to stay the course.