Day 2: Picking a Fight
Today’s reading: Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:12-19, Luke 19:45-48
Jesus, The Outsider
Two miles east of Jerusalem, just beyond the Mount of Olives, sits the small village of Bethany—the home of sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. This is where Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead—a foretaste of things to come.
During Passion Week, Jesus and His followers stay in Bethany with their friends. Unlike the cultural kings of the day, He didn’t stay in the central palace, He stayed outside of the city.
This reminds me that Jesus was an outsider.
If you look up the etymology of the word Bethany, it translates to “house of the poor”. Historical accounts confirm that many sick and discarded people lived here.
This was exactly the place for Jesus.
I think it’s important to note that Jesus congregated with those in need—He lived and worked among the discarded. As some of His most famous words attest, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” and again, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
So, when you feel afflicted, or if you feel discarded, or if you feel like a bit of an outsider, rest confidently that you’re in good company.
The Den of Robbers
As He enters the city on Monday, Jesus makes His way to the temple. The temple is God’s holy place—the place where His Shekinah glory (The Spirit of God) dwells.
However, the temple court was a gathering place and a high-traffic area. Naturally, merchants seeking to make financial gain set up their tables there. It’s important to note that the religious leaders took advantage of this and padded their own pockets in the process. Instead of a reverent place where God was worshiped, the temple looked more like a scene from Times Square.
Jesus knew it was time to turn this corrupt system on its head. This was the purpose of His life—to bring the kingdom and establish a new covenant.
His passion to honor the Father caused Him to turn over their tables and drive them out as He shouted:
“Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’” —Luke 19:45
Jesus knew that their greed was their god, so His words were convicting and sharp. Yet, as bystanders watched this dramatic scene unfold, the power of God was still at work. “They hung on every word He said” (Luke 19:48).
This story is the catalyst for the rest of the week—the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Jesus’s life challenged the entire religious system, and in just a few days, it’s the religious people who will have him killed.
So it’s almost as if Jesus is picking a fight.
In many ways, I believe He was.
Too often, our religious systems portrays Jesus as a gentle, mild- mannered, middle-class Caucasian who sits with children on his knee as animals graze nearby. While Jesus was full of compassion, he was also full of passion—a passion for the purposes and righteousness of God.
I think many Christians focus on the baby-kissing, animal-grazing variety of Jesus’s portrayal and they forget that Jesus came to fight for the purposes of God and the hearts of God’s people.
He’s encouraging us to do the same.
As Jesus resides in Bethany and storms the temple, it reminds me that He is passionate about the Father’s purposes over self-preserving prosperity.
Jesus came to bring the kingdom of God, not a hierarchical religion. He wasn’t about padding the pockets of the insiders while leaving the outsiders wanting.
Jesus valued eternity over the temporary. He wanted our infinite to have more value than our finite. He wanted to bring the outsiders in. And He was willing to fight for it.
So today, take heart. Jesus is fighting for you.
1. Are you willing to be honest about the “poor” areas of your life? And, are you willing to invite Jesus into those places to bless them?
2. What aspects of your faith need to be redefined? How has the temporary caused you to lose sight of the eternal?
3. Jesus is a fighter. What battles are you fighting alone that Jesus can fight with you?
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