And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.
Its interesting that, for all of the “anti-religious” press Jesus seems to get these days, He was perfectly comfortable with the Temple protocol and systems. This makes sense considering He was the originator of the Temple system in it’s purest form, and God doesn’t typically throw out what He has created to be good simply because it has become corrupt by humanity’s carnal tendencies.
Jesus didn’t neccesarily set Himself up in opposition to the Temple, or the religious system, He showed Himself to be the thing that the religious system wasn’t able to be. The Temple could ritually deem someone clean from sin, Jesus showed that, through Him, sin could be completely erased from a person’s record. The Temple could pronounce you healed and acceptable after your sickness was cured, Jesus could step into the middle of the sickness and make you whole and clean. There could pronounce you healed and acceptable after your sickness was cured, Jesus could step into the middle of the sickness and make you whole and clean. There are more examples, but the point is not Christ’s violent opposition to an instiitution that He set up as a shadow of Himself, despite modern rhetoric to suggest against it. The issue that Jesus’ healing and subseqeunt instruction highlights here is that He is greater, more powerful, more glorious, than the Temple and religious system. And truly He was / is the fulfillment of what the Temple and religious system were created to be. Religion wasn’t created to be an end in itself, it was created to be a shadow of Jesus. We do a profound disservice to Jesus when we assume that every part of the “nuts and bolts” of the church’s systems is evil and was supposed to be abolished when He came. Obviously that wasn’t the case as we see Jesus Himself finding at least some value in the traditions of the church.
GK Chesterton said that before you start tearing down any fence, it’s always a good idea to find out why it was put up to begin with. The obvious imagery could easily be extended to the large open spaces throughout the east that are surrounded by three lines of barbed wire attached to wooden posts. Often there is nothing to look at as far as the eye can see. As we look at that open, lonely grassland it would be easy to see the fence as useless, or a hindrance to the “natural beauty” of the landscape. But the truth of the situation is this, if one solitary bull was being forced to consider to make a run at us as we glibly waxed philosophical, and that fence was the only opposing side in the argument, we would begin to realize just how much sense the fence makes.
Some of the practical application I’ll save for tomorrow, but just the imagery expressed through Chesterton’s illustration should give us plenty of pause.
– What “fences” have we been quick to tear down without truly meditating on the implications of what we are letting out?
– Have we become angry at anything that we didn’t “come up with”?
– Do we arrogantly think that 2000 years of church history should simply cower before our 20, 30, 40, or even 50, or 60 years of experience?
– What is the other side of the coin here? What things do we need to legitimately change in our lives, in our worship, in the structure of our days?