Not every day perhaps, but today, Mutinous Monday, let’s remember this aspect of Jesus’s life and character:
He entered into a place of worship and caused carnage.
He physically forced people from a room like a security guard. Turned over cash registers like an anarchist. Prevented people coming through like a bouncer unconcerned about it all kicking off.
This was no benign clergyman musing out loud, “As we approach Easter…”
This was a working class northerner in his early 30’s manhandling people.
We don’t approach Easter.
Easter squares up to us.
He’s revealing who he is.
Riling the religious establishment.
Raising up the prayer movement.
Like every Sunday.
“Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.”
Even in the bleakest and bitterest moments – beaten and betrayed by your brothers, favourite jacket blood soaked and torn, lost to your father, high hopes crushed, left for dead, people trafficked, forced to go to a foreign land, heading for an Egyptian prison – the most powerful force in your life continues to be: The Covenant Faithfulness of Yahweh – For your good and for the saving of many.
Croydon High Street. January. Sunday afternoon. Shadowing a scouse evangelist, Scott.
“Can I ask you a quick question? Have you seen this picture before? Do you pray?”
The dapper looking guy in his twenties engages with the conversation. Scott talks to him about Jesus, about Jesus knocking on his door.
“You work in banking don’t you?” “Yeah, I do, how did you know that?” “Yeah, how would I know that?” Me thinking ‘how did he know that?!’ – the guy looked like a hairdresser.
“You went in to banking to impress your father, didn’t you?” This was in fact the case, and me and the guy were moving toward flabbergasted.
“Can we pray for you?” “Sure, ok”
The guy was visibly moved by the prayer and moved on with the words, “I’ll never forget this meeting, thank you so much.”
“We look for the fruit that’s ready to fall.” Says Scott, for whom this interaction doesn’t make the top 5 most interesting of the weekend.
Sure, Derren Brown could replicate this. David Blaine could better it. Could have been a lucky guesses. But maybe, just maybe Jesus still speaks to Scousers like he spoke to Samaritans, and some proportion of Croydon’s 400,000 inhabitants are ready to hear and take steps forward today.
Even in the book of Acts (6:1), smack bang in amongst the miracles, the marvels, the mission, and the multitudes converting: the worst ministry to fail (the mercy ministry) breaks down for the worst reason (racial division). The PR team didn’t sleep well that night.
I’m grateful that they didn’t call a meeting when this became clear, shrug their shoulders and say, ‘guess we failed guys, movement over, back to the fishing’.
They acknowledged the errors, put in the work to fix them, moved forward and kept it as part of the story.
The word of God, of course, multiplied all the while.
For some of us, walking with Jesus is a spacious place right now. It’s a great big park where you can’t even see the fences. There’s options, sunshine, joy and freedom. You can woosh down the slides, swing on the monkey bars, enjoy your ice cream. Hey, take your top off and swing it round your head if you fancy, why not? You’re running around a spacious place.
For others of us, we’re currently super aware of how narrow the path of discipleship is. It’s struggling over stepping stones in the middle of a storm. The next rock is barely visible and we’re not sure we’re going to reach it. It’s chiselling away hard at us, cutting into the very core of who we are. It’s carrying an instrument of Roman execution on our weary shoulders and fighting to get through to the end of the day.
Both of these extremes, along with every shade in between, are totally valid in the life of the disciple. Both will be being used by the Master Craftsman to form your heart and make you more like Jesus. The One acquainted with grief, anointed with joy and absolutely unflinching in his commitment to lay his life down for a lost world in service and love.
So, whether you’re enjoying or enduring today, lean in to Him.
and is too concerned about your character, to allow the trajectory of your life to follow an unbroken line of steady promotion.