Irritable Jesus? It can’t be. Our Lord is the Good Shepherd, patient and kind.
But looking ahead to the events of Holy Week, a different image emerges.
I suppose one way to see it is to imagine a policeman running to a crime in progress only to be cursed at by a man who only moments ago received from him a parking ticket. Maybe you could visualize a home on fire. One man races to join the bucket brigade while so many of the neighbors watch from their living room windows lest they need to brave the winter’s chill.
Maybe those images capture it a little. I don’t know.
Heading into the events of Holy Week, Jesus had a lot on his mind. He’s dashing to the rescue of the crime’s victims while so many mock Him. He’s running into the burning building to save the inhabitants, and yet so many could care less. He’s come to win for us salvation, knowing the danger, knowing just what it all entailed. The taunts and ridicule were before him. He would have to brace himself for the beating and lashes, the spitting, the crown of thorns, and then the nails. He would need to be mindful of the abandonment of friends, the complete abandonment by His Father.
I suppose when you have that much on your mind, you’re not going to put up with a lot of nonsense from those who appear to missing the whole point.
Clear out the temple.
Turn over the tables of the money changers.
Curse that fig tree that bears no fruit.
All of this is as if to say, “What are you doing, people?! Get off the couch! Never mind the sports tournament. Get your family in church! Receive what I’m winning by my bloody agony! By it, find yourself made new—stronger, vigilant, ready. Be strengthened to start speaking up for the unborn. Be enabled to give a damn about the Christians being martyred around the world. Find the muscle for showing you’re actually concerned that the LGBTQ machine is grinding up our families and the youth of our society. This mess I’m dying to redeem is for real! It isn’t a game! What’s wrong with you?!”
Now, you may say this is harsh. But then I suppose you could compare it with the familiar scenes of people who love you. Think about your parents, your mom or dad who want the best for you. Think about coaches you’ve admired, who pushed you when you didn’t want to be pushed. When we don’t care about people, we treat them with benign neglect. A government official would just as soon write you a meager check and send you away than do anything that requires him to govern according to your well-being. A negligent mother would allow you to be immersed in a family’s profanity while you play video games all night instead of teaching you respect and seeing you get the sleep you need.
Again, maybe those images work and maybe they don’t. I can’t say.
Either way, say what you will about our Lord. He’s a Savior, not an enabler. He’s faithful in the fight, and by no means a pansy. He has come bringing truth, not what makes you happy. He cares for your well being—actual and eternal—not just what makes you comfortable but ultimately leaves you to your deathly fate.
Lent is upon us. Follow it to its destination: Holy Week. You’ll see these things there.
Once there, take in all of it. Pay attention to the Lord’s warning. Stay awake. Be vigilant. Watch the Lord, but also watch with Him. Make His House your house.
We are approaching the hour of salvation. No more barren fig trees. No more couch potatoes.
This is serious stuff, Christians. At a minimum, treat it as such.