#81: On the Big Stage

Luke 19:47–48

Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Tuesday morning in the final week of Jesus’s life, what we today call Holy Week. He began on Palm Sunday by entering the powerhouse of Israel, the city of Jerusalem. On the Monday he stormed into and cleansed its central fortress, the Holy Temple. Then he makes it his own place. He has much to say, much to share and teach and he does it in the Temple. In a flash the place where animals were ritually slaughtered and offered to God becomes the place where liberating teachings are spoken out and offered to the ordinary people. The place which was the central power base of the priests has become the preaching platform for Jesus. There is a lovely quote of Maya Angelou, “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” This is exactly what he is doing, the Word is full of words. Over three days Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday he turned the Temple into a theatre, a House of Commons, a great lecture hall and an all day concert venue.

At the beginning of 2020 thousands of people were reading the novel ‘Ordinary People’. It was top of the best sellers’ lists for months and was turned into a runaway success of a TV series. Judging by my reading and watching, it seems the life of the ‘ordinary people’ in our country today is fuelled by sport, telly, masses of alcohol and lots of sex and angst. Love, long lasting relationships, deep inner thinking and spirituality, sense of journey and the discovering of God and joy seem to be completely out of the window. I expect it was pretty much the same for the ‘ordinary people’ of Jesus’ day (though without the telly).

Yet here in the Temple theatre with the great teacher before them they found meaning, wisdom and words they had never heard before. The ‘ordinary people’ become special people.

The ordinary people ‘heard him gladly’,
‘With delight’.
He spoke with an authority,
Not like their usual scribes and teachers,
Never had anyone spoken like this.
They were spellbound,
Even many of the authorities believed in him.

Still today, Jesus’s words have a special power. They are not offered to help us to live religiously but to help us to live. They are filled with light, promise, hope and deep wisdom. They are balanced, truthful and lead people through this world and into the next.

When was the last time you read the words of Jesus?
When was the last time you took just one of his parables and allowed it to slowly sink in and change you?
Following Mary, when was the last time you pondered his words? There was a time in my life when I decided to read a little bit of the gospel story every day. (I don’t actually do it every day.) This was one of the biggest game changers cum ‘step up’ cum ‘living a much richer daily existence’ of my life.
This then is the challenge, to spend some time every day listening to him. This will transform you from being an ‘ordinary’ person to someone who is special, unusual and joyful with a greater sense of peace than ‘normal people. It will give you a centre, make you a journeyer; you will have an added dimension to your whole life.

I rather like painting pictures of Jesus. This scene of his teaching in the Temple I am doing on a broad canvas so I can get the backs of lots of heads in. I am painting the heads in a full rainbow range of colours. Why? Because the words of Jesus speak to the full spread of ‘ordinary people’.

Lord Jesus,
As you speak, help me to listen,
To hear what you are saying to me.
Guidance and advice,
Encouragement and reproof,
Help me to hear it all.