The Cast of the Holy Dance:
Jesus ………………….. Lead Dancer/Star/King/Messiah/Son of David/Christ
Disciples …….…….…….. Learners/Instructors
Crowd ………………..…… Participants
Audience …………………. Spectators
Religious Authority…… Chief Priests/Teachers of the Law
Act 2: Jesus Clears the Temple (Holy Monday)
Matthew 21: 12-22, John 2:13-17 (Also found in Mark 11:15-19, and Luke 19:45-48)
Act 2 opens again with lots of activity. Jerusalem is stirring with anticipation of the celebration of Passover and everyone is trying to get everything in order to make it perfect. Jesus, the Star of the show, arrives on stage with His disciples. They dance into the Temple Court and Jesus stops.
The disciples continue dancing amongst all of the activity and then, surprise!
Jesus begins turning over the tables of all of the merchants. Continuing to dance because that is what they had rehearsed, the disciples begin to forget their steps. They end up standing in place, dumbfounded.
Jesus appears to be quite angry. He is overturning the tables of those who are selling cattle, sheep, and doves. He also overturned the tables of the money changers and drove all of them, including the animals, out of the temple saying, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of robbers” (Mt. 21:13).
There is shock and confusion about His actions. The disciples didn’t see this coming. They were still excited from the day before. They were excited about being in the inner circle and walking with the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Son of David, who would save the Jews from their oppression at the hands of the Romans.
Entering the stage are blind and lame people who believed. They danced over to Jesus and He healed them. Those among the religious authority were indignant. They wanted to know what authority He had to do all of these things. This was their temple. They were the authority here.
In another perplexing statement, Jesus says, “Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (Jn. 2:19). They didn’t get it because it had taken so long for the Temple to be built. Yet, Jesus was referring to the Temple that was His body.
At that moment of the dance, everyone is again surprised. This is not what they had rehearsed. And yet, the dance went on. Jesus and His disciples left the stage (Temple) not to reappear until the next day.
Admittedly, not everything that took place in this Act came directly from Scripture. It includes some speculation and interpretation of what is written.
So many lessons jump out of this scene!
Anger isn’t always a bad thing. Maybe sometimes it is better referred to as passion. There is little doubt that Jesus was passionate about how His Father’s house was treated.
Recently, through carelessness and unawareness, I hurt a close friend. She was surprised and so was I once I became aware of my carelessness. I don’t imagine that Jesus was surprised about what He saw happening in the Temple, I think it is likely that He was already aware of it, at least on some level.
Either way, I do think that it’s not completely out of the realm of possibilities that after His reception the previous day and all of the “Hosanna’s”, He hoped things were shifting. On some level, He thought all of the people who had waved their palm branches ushering Him in to Jerusalem were coming around to see the Truth of who He was (is).
After all, He knew where He was headed later in the week and like us (or maybe it’s just me), even when we know that we are going to have to sacrifice, there’s always this little glimmer of hope that something will happen to make things a little easier on us and not require as big of a sacrifice.
The response my friend had when I hurt her was a gift to me. Because I was open to owning the part I played (not always the case), I was also able to see at least one moment of my life when I was operating on automatic pilot with self in the center and little to no regard for the good of all. I was operating in a small arena without considering the bigger picture of the moment.
One of my lessons from that incident was that even when we think we are doing good for a few, if we take our eyes off of Jesus and miss the big picture, we may be harming the whole.
The merchants and money changers in the Temple may have thought they were helping a few because they were selling provisions for sacrifices but they missed the big picture. God doesn’t ask us to sacrifice more than we have. God will always provide all we need to make a sacrifice (i.e.: Abraham, Isaac, and the ram (Genesis 22:1-19)). We are not to profit from another’s sacrifice. Sacrifice is all gift. Turning it into anything else makes it unclean.
So, that is one lesson. Another lesson has to do with prayer.
God and I had a little chuckle as I read the Scripture for today and I realized that I didn’t close the devotional yesterday with a prayer. This has me wonder what else He is going to show me through the week. Oh, so fun!
Prayer to conclude Palm Sunday devotional: Although we have heard this story before, although we have walked this journey before, although we may think we know what is coming next, I pray, Lord God, that You surprise us this week with wonder at Your majesty. I pray You open our eyes and remove our blinders a little more to see how big and glorious You are. Open our hearts, Lord God, to be able to take in a little more than we were able to prior to today. Amen.
How often I operate outside without praying and consulting God. “Pray without ceasing”, Scripture tells us. The Temple is to be a house of prayer. I (We) know this! I (We) have rehearsed this! I (We) must have forgotten the steps. Is not the Temple now located within each of us! Have mercy, dear God.
Finally, authority! Authority comes from God, the Father. It is He who calls, equips, provides, fills, and guides our every step in the dance. If we really want to get it right, it has to come from Him.
Years ago, I asked the question, “How do you know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?” In other words, “Is Jesus the ONLY way? Can’t there be more than one way?” The answer I received from the person I asked was simple (a little too simple for me at the time but not really too simple. Afterall, 12-14 years later I still remember it). The answer was, “Because He said so.”
Jesus came to set the captives free because the Father said so. Freedom in this Act is expected to be freedom from oppression from the Romans. Jesus, and the Father, have something much bigger in mind. Their plan is to free us from bondage and slavery, from shame and sin and death. Free from … but also free to. Free to love.When we love with our whole heart we risk it all … judgment, betrayal, shame, rejection, and fear. When we love with our whole heart we are freed. I think it’s worth the risk.
Holy Father, Savior Jesus, Guiding Spirit, free us to love today. Keep us low and humble in our realization that Your Way, Your Truth, and Your Life, are where freedom, and love, and grace, and mercy, and blessings reside. Open our hearts and our minds to take in a little more of Your majesty. Thank You, for the countless gifts and blessings You have and will continue to pour out for our healing and restoration. Today, Lord God, we look to You, and we welcome the surprise. Amen.
- When I mess up …
- When I forget …
- Freedom for me includes …
- My prayer today …
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Amen. God Bless You & Keep You Safe Too! Thank you!