Matthew 21 – Kingdoms in Conflict

Day 21 of #Daily Matthew.

Did you notice that as the last days of Jesus get closer, the intensity of people’s responses to him increases?  From a narrative point of view, we can feel the tension rising.  Something is about to happen.

Before the final clash, though, we read in Matthew 21 the story of Jesus and his dramatic actions in the Temple in Jerusalem.  And if we read it carefully, we will see a collision of incompatible kingdoms.

Jesus looked in the Temple grounds and saw the kingdom of commerce, currency exchange, and dishonesty, and he reacted with passion and physical cleansing.  The religious leaders looked in the Temple grounds and saw the kingdom of compassion, healing, and worship, and they responded with anger.  A kingdom of profit vs. a kingdom of peace.  A kingdom of self-interest vs. a kingdom of worship.  The two kingdoms clashed, but the worst was still to come.

This story is a powerful reminder that Jesus did not come so that everyone would be happy and everyone would like him.  In fact, the life, actions, and teachings of Jesus were (and still are) often offensive.  Following Jesus demanded (and still demands) a massive paradigm shift.  Some embraced it, but some fought it.

The way of Jesus is about loving and serving God, and loving and serving others.  It is not about serving self.  If you and I want to follow Jesus, we may need to overturn some of our beliefs, attitudes and actions in the same way that Jesus overturned the tables 2,000 years ago.

Jesus isn’t someone who we add to our lives, rather, Jesus is the one to whom we give control of our lives.  Switching allegiance to a new kingdom isn’t easy.  But really, if you and I are going to follow a religious revolutionary, what else would we expect?

Mark

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