Jesus Christ

Jesus, the People, and the Powers

This is my “wrap-up” commentary for this week’s Bible meditation passage (at our BibleWeek site). In this excerpt (Luke 19:37-48) Jesus enters Jerusalem experiencing

  • public praise and
  • official contempt and conspiracy.

I’ll list some themes I see, some things I do not see or know, and some ideas I think I can “take to the bank” from this selection.

Here are some themes I see being dealt with in this selection; you may have picked up some others.

  • The crowds are very impressed with Jesus and expecting him to bring the most wonderful developments for their nation and for their own lives.
  • The “powers that be” do not see the good that’s happening right under their noses, or the great opportunity they have for getting things straightened out and headed down the right road. Reality is so intensely obvious and denial so absurd on this occasion that if the crowds are not allowed to speak, “the stones will cry out.” A few minutes later, Jesus weeps because, “You did not recognize the time of God’s coming.”
  • The costs of such over-achieving stupidity are very high. “You have made it a den of robbers.” “They will dash you to the ground, you and the children.” “But … the leaders … were trying to kill him.” That is, Jesus is being dismissed and squeezed out, violently so. And they don’t realize that by doing so, they are destroying themselves and everything they stand for and have worked for all their lives.
  • Jesus sees, knows, and feels it all very clearly and intensely.
  • Jesus does not turn away or dismiss them as not worth his time or effort. He persists with active truthfulness ( speaking, weeping, throwing sellers out of the temple, teaching in the temple) right in the presence of the ignorance, contempt and hatred.

So I came up with titles like:

  • Jesus: A Man of Courage, A Man of Heart
  • Bad Things That Didn’t Have to Happen
  • The Pain of Watching Others Self-Destruct

Ideas, insights I think I can”Take To The Bank” from this selection:

Don’t Know: To illustrate the significance of what we can as individuals “take to the bank” from this passage, here’s a partial list of things I CANNOT say I know for sure from or about this passage, some of which would be very interesting to know. You can no doubt add some of your own.

Don’t know who the members of the “crowd of disciples” were or the size of the crowd. Don’t know when or how the praises and hopes of the crowd will be fulfilled. Don’t know how many Pharisees were present or what percentage of them intervened to try to stop the celebration. Don’t know how long or loudly or even visibly Jesus wept. Don’t know how he knew such detail about the coming destruction. Don’t know if the incident with the “robbers” in the temple is the same one recorded elsewhere. Don’t know how precisely he knew the coming events of this, his last week.

Things I can “take to the bank” personally

as a result of spending time with this passage:

(This list is personal, and incomplete. These are things I feel I personally can say “for sure”, today, from this passage. Your list will be different. The important thing is not whether we all agree, but that we become clear in our own minds about what we see the Bible as clearly saying. It is the response of each of us to what we DO see that will be crucial in our further spiritual development or lack thereof. )

So – what’s your list like?

  1. Jesus is a man of courage.
  2. Jesus is acutely aware of spiritual (as well as political) realities in the people, situations, and events around him.
  3. Jesus feels those things deeply.
  4. The “powers that be,” religious and political, can at times be blind, stupid, insensitive and self-destructive.
  5. Jesus was “God’s coming” to rescue them.
    Application: It’s possible to miss the very presence of God, explicitly tailored for my (our) own situation and sent directly to me (us), even if made obvious by miraculous events, by great moral depth and power in teaching and by exemplary personal character.
    Application: Let’s try not to miss it. [If a theme of this selection is honesty, so also a key to not missing “God’s coming” in our lives is honesty. To pretend you see or believe what you do not see or believe is the road to the blindness, stupidity, etc. mentioned just above.]
  6. Military resistance to entrenched corruption is not a route Jesus chooses. (As He said elsewhere, he could have called legions of angels. And he had large, motivated crowds believing in him.) He was willing to pay a very high price in lieu of choosing that option.
  7. Jesus can be pretty blunt. He says it straight.
    Application: Maybe if we don’t get it, it’s not because he didn’t say it.
  8. “Crowds” were very much attracted to appropriate words and behaviors coming from a man they know to be a person of integrity, deep moral and political/social insight, and active investment in present reality.
    Application: We also should be attracted to him.
    Application: If we present him more carefully, so that people see him more accurately, they will probably be attracted to him more than they usually are.
    Application: If we want people to be attracted to us, this pattern of appropriateness, integrity, etc. is a good one to try to learn.
  9. Jesus does not value money-making in the same way he values public prayer or public worship.
  10. Sometimes the crowds are right and the leaders are wrong.

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