Today’s Reading: John 1:9-14, Luke 19:45-20:26 Jesus’ time in Jerusalem in the days leading up to His arrest and crucifixion are marked by a sharp contrast between how He is received by the chief priests and teachers of the law and how He is received by the crowds. Jesus’ words and actions don’t leave many simply shrugging their shoulders. His presence demands a response.
The reactions of the chief priests and teachers of the law do seem quite clear to us today. Put simply, they felt threatened by Jesus. Their lives were oriented around a feeling of control, a way of managing not just the religious systems of the day, but of life itself. Their response is much like that of children on a playground disagreeing over the rules of the game—they cry, “Oh yeah, says who?” While I’d like to suggest that I am oh-so-different from these men, I know the truth is that when I feel threatened, I respond in much the same way. There is great fear in losing the semblance of control that I crave over my life.
Contrast that to how Jesus is received by the crowds. For all the plotting of the chief priests and teachers of the law, they don’t dare act in public, for they fear the people.
“But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.” (Luke 19:48, NLT)
I love that phrase—the people hung on every word He said. Maybe you’ve had a season of life when that felt true for you. Maybe it was a season marked by excitement, or possibly by desperation. I think I’ve felt both. Either way, any sense of threat from the presence of Jesus is gone. In its place is a thirst for more light, more life. Maybe these crowds of people simply had nothing to lose. Or, maybe they saw that what they could cling to was worth nothing compared to the life Jesus was offering.
While I think it would be easy for each of us to mentally place ourselves in one category or the other, I doubt for many of us it is that simple. The truth may be that there are parts of our hearts longing for more of Jesus and parts of our hearts terrified of what that might mean—what might be exposed, what might be lost in the process. I think it might be worth getting to know these parts of us, and, if you’re willing, allowing Jesus to speak into them as well.
In what areas of your life do you feel threatened by the presence of Jesus?
In what seasons of life have you hung on Jesus’ every word? What marked those seasons of life?
How is your heart receiving Jesus’ presence today?
Ryan is the Herndon Campus Middle School Minister.