Can we stop long enough to think about maybe there is more?
This week, as we journey through Holy Week and prepare for the crucifixion and resurrection, what if we would pause to ponder, “Maybe there is more?”
For centuries we’ve understood the crucifixion/resurrection as an “atonement for our sins.” Because Jesus paid the price for our sins with his blood, we are able to be free/saved/have eternity.
Early in the week before the Passover Meal, Jesus went to the temple. Once there, he became furious, overturned the tables, and said some pretty blunt things. He accuses the religious leaders of being thieves and opportunists, a hindrance to the Jewish people being prepared to sacrifice to God.
For centuries that is how we’ve understood the story. But what if we are willing to stop for a moment and ask ourselves, could there be more?
When Jesus overturned the tables in the temple, what if it was about more than just the jacked-up cost of the sacrifice he was protesting?
What if it was the entire belief system around God being “angry” and needing to be appeased with the blood of a living thing?
A whole religious system was built around the idea of an “angry God” that needed appeasement. Jesus spent his entire ministry trying to get individuals to “see the nature of God” and understand that “Law” was much more than what had been written thousands of years before.
He wanted them to understand that the Kingdom of God/Heaven was not “out there” but “in here.”
In his book The Great Spiritual Migration, Brian McLaren writes about the possible meaning behind Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (see John 2:13-17):
“Perhaps it is not merely the cost of sacrifice that Jesus protests. Perhaps it is the whole belief system associated with sacrifice, based on the fundamental, long-held belief that God is angry and needs to be appeased with blood. Perhaps Jesus is overturning that belief right along with the cashiers’ tables, right along with the whole religious system built upon it. . . .
More than seven hundred years before Jesus, Hosea dared to say that God desired compassion, not sacrifice [see Hosea 6:6]. . . .
Around the same time, Isaiah dared to say that God found sacrifices disgusting when people weren’t seeking justice for the oppressed (Isaiah 1-2). And centuries earlier, the poet-king David made the audacious claim that God takes no pleasure in sacrifice but desires a “contrite spirit” and “truth in the innermost being” (Psalm 51). In other words, . . . when [Jesus] said the sacrifice wasn’t necessary . . . he was siding with the prophetic and mystical/poetic traditions within Judaism, even though that set him against the traditions of the priests and scholars. . . .
When the prophets Amos, Isaiah, and Micah come along, they don’t advocate rejecting religion and culture, even though they are highly critical of its spiritual hypocrisy and social injustice. They want their religion to expand, to evolve, to learn and grow. The same is true with Jesus. He came, he said, not to abolish or replace, but to fulfill what came before him [see Matthew 5:17]. . . .” (McLaren).
Jesus transcended what was and aimed/sought to include all in what “is.”
What “was” for Jesus is the same as what “is” for us here and now.
“The spirit of goodness, rightness, beauty, and aliveness, Jesus said, is always moving. Like wind, breath, and water, the Spirit is in motion, inviting us to enter the current and flow.”
Far too often, the problem is us. We stop moving. We resist the flow. We have ideas of what should be and what “always has been” and miss out on where the Spirit leads.
As we continue our journey through Holy Week, may we be attentive to the flow.