I love Easter! I do. This is our BIG celebration as believers. Easter marks the JOY of our salvation. Christ's death and resurrection are our redemption, the only hope of salvation, promise of being made whole. Jesus IS the only way! This week, we get to acknowledge that truth freely.
So, Palm Sunday's events unfold as I'd expect. Of course droves of people would line the streets to worship and praise Jesus, their Savior! What else would they do? How else could they respond?
Then, something happened between Sunday and Friday. The crowd that worshiped on Sunday became the the crowd that crucified on Friday.
Scotty and I try to have a short devotion time with the kids each morning. They have scripture to read. At 7:00, when we all sit down for breakfast, we have a rushed discussion of our reading.
(If for any reason you are feeling guilt while reading about this breakfast practice of ours, please know that it rarely goes as I would like it. More times than not, it's a train-wreck, and I end up having to apologize for losing my temper over their lack of interest. But, we are committed to carry on. One day, I'm certain Scotty and I will be met at the table with Jesus loving kids excited about diving into scripture as a family. From my keys to your ears, Lord. Let it be!)
Anyway, this week we've decided to study the scriptures that correlate with Jesus' life during Holy Week. On Monday, Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple. First, I DID NOT realize this event happened during Holy Week. I'm sure I've heard the timeline before. This morning, though, it was fresh revelation for me. Jesus entered the Temple and became angry, because people were selling doves. Scotty explained to the kids that believers couldn't enter the Temple without a sacrifice. During this yearly event, God's people were able to bring their sacrifice to atone for sin. Some of the people traveled long distances. So, rather than travel with their sacrifice, they opted to purchase it once they'd arrived at the Temple. Apparently these money changers were taking advantage and charging extremely unreasonable amounts of money for these doves.
I digress, but I'm thinking about ball parks that do not allow outside food and drinks during steamy July and then charge $15 for a bottle of water and $25 for a hotdog. OK, so that's extreme, but we're getting there.
Mark's account has an interesting verse,
And the chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for all the multitude was astonished at His teaching.
Afraid? So they sought to destroy?
Is that the answer?
Did fear lead the religious Jews to kill the Savior of the world?
And, if so, what were they afraid of?
This is speculation, because I'm truly on a mission to find full freedom in Christ. In that, I'm asking a lot of questions. Here's one, were the chief priests afraid that Jesus was taking away their special status by correcting them and healing sick in the crowd?
See, in the Old Testament, the chief priests were the ultimate authority. Now, it was authority given by God, but they led their people in spiritual matters. Then, Jesus came and seemed to change the order of things.
The sick were getting attention before the well.
The young and immature were being taught and healed even though they hadn't followed the steps those more knowledgeable in the scripture knew to follow.
The religious process that had been extremely difficult for God's chosen people to follow was being simplified, and multitudes of people were joyfully receiving the gift of Christ's presence freely.
Is it possible that the religious elite were afraid Jesus was taking away their stature, their position, their importance? Were they scared Jesus was making everything too easy? And, if so, does their fear expose the fact that they'd not really come to know the power of their God? Did the religious lose sight of the law's purpose to drive us to our Savior?
The Christian life isn't actually easy. It's hard! However, in coming face to face with Jesus, I've realized the greatest difficulty is in the letting go. He wants to change our hearts, to transform us into His image. But, we've got to lay down our ways, because they lead to captivity and to death. His ways lead to freedom and life. But, we've got to choose trust even when the way looks different.
Every single person in the Temple on that Holy Monday needed a Savior. All of them were blinded by sin. For some, the sin was religion. The process given to bring them into an awareness of their brokenness had become their idol causing them to miss their real-deal Redeemer. For others, all manner of sin left them sick and broken. They didn't look like much next to their religious leaders, but they recognized their Savior.
Today, I'm spending time with Jesus and asking Him to show me where I am on this Monday. Is my heart prepared to receive the genuine truth of His salvation? Have I fully received the Easter story? Are there any areas where religion still keep me from the full experience of freedom? I'm thinking that the religious elite really believed they were doing what was right. But, they missed it! They missed Jesus. I really, really don't want to miss Him.
Happy Easter Week!