Who is this man riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, the one hailed by the crowd as the Son of David? The whole city, the scripture says, is abuzz with the question. You can imagine their surprise when Jesus heads straight for the temple, establishing His authority by driving the sellers out, overturning their tables and tossing money to the temple floor. Talk about causing a stir.
Jesus said to them, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13b, ESV) Each scriptural account of the story quotes Jesus as making this distinction. A house: a place of rest and restoration and communion. A den: a place of darkness and confinement. But only Matthew tells us what happens next. After Jesus tosses out those who would pervert the temple of God into a temple of wealth and greed and convenience, He does something revolutionary: He invites the Least inside.
The blind, the lame, the children all come in and Jesus welcomes them, heals them, confirms their place among Him. He cleared out those who profaned the temple and ushered in those who humbly sought after God.
When I picture the scene I can see myself in the wings, on the outside looking in. I am nervous, I am afraid, but I am drawn to this house of God and so I watch and wait. Those inside seem to have it together, bringing riches rather than sacrifice, doing religion like a business. All I have is this humble offering in my hands, carried the long journey from my home, over rocky roads and mistake-laden miles. Then I see Him.
And right before my eyes I watch Him turn it on its side, all the pretension and injustice and darkness that kept me at bay. He sends out those who’ve come not for God but for gods. And then? He looks me in the eye. Me. Lame, frightened, filthy from days of travel, He looks at me and sees me. He motions for me to come in and then He tells me I belong.
Oh, Sisters, this is our Christ. He welcomes in the defenseless and He becomes their defense. He brings the weak to Himself and makes them strong. He desires not the shiny sacrifices our pride wishes to bring, but only a heart that is stayed on Him.
We cannot purchase Him, for He has purchased us.
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