21 March, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: ‘Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love.’ Psalm 62:11
As we come through this week called Holy Week, we will take a closer look at Jesus and discuss the doubts that can flitter across our mind, or for some actually take root and nearly choke out our faith.
The Gospels describe Jesus entering Jerusalem on the Sunday before Easter with the fanfare of palm branches and hails that hearken back to King David. The crowds were gathering for the upcoming festival of Passover and were abuzz with the thought of making Jesus King. Why wouldn’t they want him to be King; he heals the sick, feeds thousands, seems to be really wise. He’d be a perfect monarch –– well almost perfect. He had this habit of demanding people to be morally and ethically good. Wouldn’t you know it? As soon as they have a pre-coronation celebration, his perfection causes a traumatic temple scene.
Jesus goes into the temple and finds commerce has take over penitence. In a fit of holy anger he clears the temple grounds and with force reclaims it as a house of prayer. The picture of Jesus cracking a whip and throwing over tables seems far removed from the crowd feeding, children loving, healer of the broken we see in the gospel stories. He seems harsh, out of control, almost insane, totally fearsome. Do we really believe this is Jesus our Saviour?
For some of us Jesus being fearsome is not that hard to believe. God, and Jesus by association, seems a little grumpy in the Old Testament, kicking people out of gardens, sending floods, choosing arbitrarily one people group over another. It looked like Jesus was going to be different, but the temple event confirms what some of us feared. In fact, doesn’t God demand we fear him? Not hard to fear him if we perceive God as mostly angry with people. But, it is hard to love someone we fear. People, who find fear of God reasonable, but love of Jesus difficult, may find Jesus being Lord as sensible, but a loving Saviour questionable in their heart.
So often doubt cuts both ways in a situation. Is Jesus loving or is he scary? A theologian will tell you that he is both; that he holds what appear to be opposites in dynamic tension. We can’t easily explain how he does it and to me that provides encouragement, not dismay. A human can rarely if ever hold two apparently opposing characteristics in harmony, but God can. If God is beyond us, there should be things about him that I can’t explain. These unexplainable doubts remind me that Jesus is not just a man; he is truly the Son of God. Yes, that’s scary, but comforting at the same time. It makes me want to embrace my doubt as confirmation of my belief and draw near to the fearsome, loving Jesus.