12 April, 2014

Hosanna ... No wait. ... Crucify Him!

The young, Arab-American media darling seems oddly withdrawn, given the situation. He's being thrown a spontaneous ticker-tape parade in celebration of his return to New York City on Sunday, June 28th. The kid's been trending on Twitter for months, but no one guessed he'd won this kind of love. He's taken the Tea Party, the Democrats, and everyone else to the woodshed in the polls, and today's spontaneous excitement is spiking his mojo-meter through the roof. Even the main stream media loves him as a member of a trendy minority (it helps they can feature his attacks on the Tea Party every evening.) The country needs something badly, and this kid will be old enough to run for president in just 2 election cycles.

The culmination of this year's 4th of July celebration will be the fireworks display over One World Trade Center, and the kid heads there first thing the next day. On a busy Monday morning he barges in, speaking to no one, and shuts off the entire building's Internet and telephone connections. Office-drones pour out of the elevators, trying to figure out what's happening. He drives them all into the streets and forbids any commerce. For two hours, he kills the business of America's most precious skyscraper.  Erected on the foundation of the Twin Towers, One World Trade Center declares to the world how America reacts to defeat. The show must go on! But this kid stops the commerce. An odd thing indeed, for anyone angling after the presidency!

Suddenly, CNN interrupts their own coverage of the excitement with a tape of the kid - this Arab-American kid - looking up at One World Trade Center and saying, "This tower will fall in smoke and ashes. Not one twisted I-beam will remain connected to another, and I will build it again in three days." Twitter explodes in fury at this "towel-head" who thinks he might level America's tower again. Within the week, CNN is carrying images of our young hero dressed in orange, standing in front of a judge, entering no plea to charges of making terroristic threats. Seconds later, the judge reads off charges of treason.

Our young media darling's still trending, but now under hashtag #CrucifyHim.

NT Wright continues to enrich my understanding of Jesus' life. Jesus didn't cleanse the temple because a few money-changers were lining their pockets. Jesus prophetically enacted the cessation of prayer in the temple, and He emphatically declared the primary reason. The word our bibles translate, "thieves" or "robbers," is used by Josephus to describe a group of Zionist rebels against Rome.  Jesus fingered the temple as a central rallying point for the local anti-Rome movement, and prophetically enacted the emperor Titus's reaction to the inevitable rebellion Israel's narcissism and violence fostered. This makes sense of Jesus odd response to Israel's outpouring of affection in the triumphal entry. Just before He entered the temple, Jesus says:

Luke 19:41-45
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. ...

Unless I'm mistaken, this was the only political act of Jesus' life. Prior to this moment, Jesus never spoke, acted, or encouraged His disciples to consider changing any single thing about any Earthly political or religious government. He maintained He was the king of a great a kingdom in the same way I maintain the air is filled with wi-fi signals. He spoke of His kingdom as a tangible thing, but never expected for one moment Pilate would grasp what it might be. His kingdom is one of love and peace, and with His entrance into the world His kingdom began its work of eroding every other kingdom of men, of power, of bloodshed, and of greed.

This understanding of the cleansing of the temple also makes clearer sense of His crucifixion. The destruction of the temple was written deeply on every Jewish heart, even more deeply than the destruction of the Twin Towers weighs in ours. Israel heard Jesus' prophecy as a threat to repeat that violence against God's house and theirs, and they heard Him more or less correctly. They only misconstrued the means of the temple's destruction. They could only imagine Jesus was promising to raise an army of His own with which to destroy Herod's (presumably profane) temple, and raise up a new one of His own. Their calls to crucify Jesus flowed from hearts jealous for the best things they knew: for Israel, for the temple, for God.

And here's my challenge to you. If nationalism was death to Israel, can our obsession over the loss of America's Christian-ness be life to us?

Find the spiritual half of the explanation of Jesus' thoughts about the temple in this 5-minute youtube. NT Wright presents here how completely Jesus intended to replace the spiritual functions of the temple in His own body.
Wright Explains the Temple

For the second half, I need to refer you to Wright's "The Challenge of Jesus." In this 200 (small) page book, Wright summarizes several hundred (dense) pages of argument detailing how Jesus worked to persuade Israel to give up her nationalism. Israel believed with all her heart the restored temple would again receive the Shekinah glory. From Zion's hill they expected to rule all the Earth. Pages 62-67 highlight the argument I've made here.