By Roy Stetler
March 4, 2024

The temple leaders of Jesus’ day were distracted by competing concerns related to the oppressive Roman occupation.  Its main function as house of prayer and school of the Scriptures was lost.

The behavior at the temple was shocking enough for Jesus that he decides to speak up with action.  Jerusalem’s leaders have neglected their call and responsibility.  His rage momentarily breaks the status quo.  He turns over tables, drives animals away, shouts God’s judgment.  The Spirit of God has all but departed because of their callousness toward God’s desire.  They have abandoned their duty (Micah 6:8) “. . .to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.”

The religious leaders bristle at this outsider trampling their authority.   Most reject the message and strengthen their resolve to get rid of the trouble maker.

But Jesus also resolves to continue to proclaim the good news in word and action.  His passion is not diminished by their threats.  His final message will be the sacrifice of his life.  Jesus will allow them to execute him.  There is nothing more he can do.  He is not afraid.  He trusts God.  All will be well—even in his death.

We also find ourselves at a precarious moment of faith.  Why do we do what we do as a congregation, as congregations?  How do our practices and decisions, our agreements and disagreements proclaim the meatier issues of prayer and practicing justice with compassion for our neighbor?

We are invited by the Spirit to release our comfort and habits for the good of all.  This is the Good News of Jesus.

Thus, the main issue of ongoing ministry is not how we worship, but how we pour ourselves out in love for our neighbor.  Jesus chose to give of his life for the least.  If in faith we follow Jesus, we will do the same.

And the result will be joy—not blissful happiness but—love-centered joy.

Thanks be to God.