Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mark 11 - Jesus does an intervention at the Temple

I've always wondered why Jesus resorted to, well, violence in the oft-told story of the Clearing of the Temple. He turned over tables, chased people and cattle out of the courtyard, and (as recorded only in Mark) even stopped people from carrying merchandise through the courtyard, seemingly seeking a a "shortcut" from one neighborhood to another. Sort of like trying to save a few seconds on a busy errand by cutting through a "holy ground" graveyard.

Why couldn't he have just loudly demanded, "this part of the temple is for the gentiles to pray, so stop using it as a den of robbers"?  

I think that Jesus was doing an Intervention. An intervention is an act of "tough love" performed by mature individuals (social workers, parents) on behalf of a wayward loved one that JUST DOESN'T GET IT and are engaging in behavior destructive to themselves and others. So, UNLESS SOMEONE REALLY GETS IN THEIR FACE they are headed for certain destruction. The principle is, "cause a little pain now to prevent a lot of pain later." The practice may involve shouting, shaking, and in-your-face consequences.

Sometimes it works.....but if the recipient is truly invested in their destructive path, sometimes it doesn't. Such was the case with the Intervention at the Temple. The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law responded with fear and plans to kill Jesus. Which they did. Had they heeded Jesus and sought justice and charity for all people and welcomed the Gentiles (read: Romans) into their temple and their hearts, it is unlikely that they would have revolted against Rome. And Rome would have had no reason to destroy Jerusalem and tear down the temple stone by stone, as it did in 70 AD.

In fact, the only divine "Intervention" that has ever worked more than briefly is the Cross. On Calvary Jesus gave not just his time and words but his body and his life to rescue errant Israel and the ignorant Gentiles. And ever since, every day, people have responded to this Intervention by saying "thank you" and becoming reconciled with God and their neighbor. Tough love - it's a beautiful thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment