Jesus welcomes the disenfranchised.
December, 27 A.D
Another clash between the respected Jewish religious leaders and the cultural phenomenon, Jesus of Nazareth. Though there have been many so-called haters who have literally chased him from their villages, the reception in Jerusalem has been historic and unprecedented. City officials have been on high alert with the population of the city swelling to over three million for the Jewish holiday of Passover. Tensions mounted when a crowd several thousand strong began cheering this controversial figure with “hosanna in the highest” and claiming that their messiah has come at last. However, praise quickly turned to uproar as Jesus single-handedly caused a riot of sorts in the temple. He drove out everyone who was buying and selling, overturning tables and seats.
Apparently, this is not the first time this has happened. Jesus similarly harassed temple-goers three years prior, using a whip of cords to drive consumers from their wares. What inflamed the chief priests this time around was that Jesus then ushered in the blind and the lame—who are prohibited from entering this holy place. They are unanimously considered to be unworthy of approaching the House of God.
Bystanders heard Jesus sacrilegiously call the temple a “den of robbers,” referring to the buying and selling of sacrificial animals—which is how religious leaders essentially ask God, on your behalf, to forgive your sins. An extreme position to take, but not entirely unfounded. There have long been observations that major wealth disparities between social classes leads to the underserving of the poorest and most vulnerable among us. On top of that, there have been reports of temples overcharging and taking advantage of people traveling long distances to the city for Passover.
What’s truly miraculous is what happened next. Once the blind and lame came pouring into the temple—a space reserved only for the most pious—Jesus began to heal them. He treated the debilitated and the ailing; essentially the forgotten and the broken among us.
A Jewish man healed of his blindness shared his story, “I’ve been a burden to my family my entire life. I’ve believed in a God I’ve never felt and devoted myself to a religion where I’ve never been seen. Today my physical eyes were opened, but it was the first time I’ve ever seen the picture of God and the way His Church is supposed to be. I stood in the holiest place in the world and somehow felt I belonged because of this man named Jesus.”
A foreign woman, previously a cripple from birth, was limping by the temple when she felt drawn to enter. “My miraculous healing made me a believer in God’s power, but it was what Jesus said that changed my life. He said this temple should be a ‘house of prayer’ and I knew that he meant for all people. Not just one people group or social class, but for me as well. For everyone.”
It’s undeniable that these events have shaken the city. This story is continuing to develop, and the chief priests are still reeling from today’s comeuppance, but what’s clear is that this man Jesus has turned the very idea of the “church” entirely on its head. An interesting conclusion to draw is how this disturbance dissolved all social norms previously associated with the church. This Jesus is truly its defender, and He has made it clear that perhaps everyone one of us has been the blind and the sick and the lame all along.