Sharing Our Faith Together

Reflections Through The Passion - Day 4

by Andy Cokayne and Peter Blount 29 March 2021

Jesus at the Temple

Reading: Matthew  21 v 10-17 & 23-27

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In our preparation for these Holy Week Reflections, Stuart Malkin kindly shared an experience he had.

About 16 years ago Easter brought on a wonderful new thinking and reawakening. It was Good Friday and a few of us were around part of the cross outside Newmount. My young grandson and his father joined us, as he put his hand in mine he looked up and asked the start of a stream of questions.
Why are those people coming down the road together ?

Why is that big man shouting as he is coming, and why is he dressed up?

Why is that man carrying a large piece of wood on his shoulder?

Why has the man who is carrying the wood got red down him?

Why are those ladies crying?

Why are the soldiers putting Jesus on wood he has just carried?

Why do they think Jesus is a bad man?

Why don’t you think Jesus was a bad man?

Answers are expected instantly all in a level of silence. And many more why’s from a little one to an old man who has to have the answers.

It would appear that Jesus was familiar with questions, either direct to him, or to others about him. In our passage from Matthew’s gospel we read that as Jesus entered Jerusalem the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21 v10-11) An honest open question about who Jesus was, and the crowds answered with what they had recognised for themselves at the time. That this Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee, they knew where he came from. They had then recognised that he was no ordinary man, he was different, he was a prophet. They didn’t need prompting, to provide this answer. Yet while it was true, it was limited in its scope. By their answer he meant nothing to them personally.

We then come to another question posed by the chief priests and elders, while Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, and no doubt were also prompted by Jesus clearing the temple the previous day “By what authority are you doing these things?” “And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21 v23). Jesus saw straight through their duplicity, they were not open honest questions seeking to know more, they were posed with the intention of catching Jesus out, as Mark records in his account ‘The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him’ (Mark 11 v18). So Jesus posed them a question in return, about John’s baptism, which they refused to answer, so did likewise.

Whether we are like Stuart’s grandson wanting answers to our questions because we want to know more, or whether we just like posing, what we consider, difficult questions because we want to put off Jesus’ challenge on our lives. We can use questions in different ways. May we be prepared, this Easter, to answer the question that Jesus poses to each of us “Who am I to you?”  May we all be prepared to answer openly and honestly.

This morning, we conclude our time together with a hymn that poses the same question, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?’ and responds in a way that I pray we all can ‘By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine, we are on the Lords side – Saviour we are thine!’ 

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Heavenly Father like the many who witnessed your Son clearing the Temple, and asked the questions, Who? What right? Why? May we be able and willing to answer in a way that affirms our faith in you. May we not be afraid to ask you honest and open questions, and be open to receive, through the Holy Spirit's prompting, the answers you have for us, and so challenge and yet build our faith in you. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.