“What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (John 2:20-21)
Daily Bible Reading: Numbers 7:1-89
Read: I had just finished preaching one of my first sermons ever. I was a young youth pastor straight out of college and I felt that what I shared that Sunday was one of the best sermons I had shared to that point. Much more than a dozen years later I still feel that way about that message. As I stepped behind that pulpit I felt like I was as prepared as I could possibly be. I knew my scripture text well. I had it memorized for years. I loved my illustration. I’ve used the same illustration nearly everywhere I have been and have even written on it twice on the River Walk. At the conclusion of the service one person surrendered their life to Christ and two others rededicated. Unlike at Two Rivers where this is an expected weekly occurrence, it was a (sadly) rare thing in the church I was in. I was pretty proud of myself.
Then she came steamrolling over my pride. The first words out of her mouth rocked me on my heels, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” Apparently having a bow and an arrow and a target up on the pulpit was unseemly, we are a church not a circus. (I had asked my senior pastor for permission to actually shoot an arrow from the bow to the target. No luck.) What is worse, I used scripture poorly, I was unbiblical, and I should get on my knees and repent before God for my heresy. I am probably exaggerating what she said. No, I am definitely exaggerating it. But I was offended. I was hurt. What hurt most is that she completely missed what I was actually saying with my message. Apparently she was so offended that I would almost do archery in church that her mind was shut off to what I was really trying to say.
React: Sounds a bit like Jesus. He just performed an incredibly “offensive” act. He pulled out the horsewhip, kicked over tables, and chased people out of the Temple. That got quite a few backs up. It even shocked his disciples to the point that when he follows this act up with an even more shocking statement about his death and resurrection, nobody gets it. More so than in the other gospels, John seems to write about times when Jesus got frustrated or was misunderstood. That makes sense. Unlike the synoptics, John was written by one of Jesus’ closest friends and confidants. He would have seen things and noticed things in a way others would have missed. I am glad he did. It is an encouragement to me. If even Jesus, if even God made flesh, was sometimes misunderstood then perhaps I should have more patience on people who do the same to me.
God, how often have I misunderstood You? How often have I misread something, or thought or said something, that has had You saying, “He just doesn’t get it.” I want to. But I don’t. Oh, so often, I just don’t get it. Help me to know You truer. Help me to understand You better. More than anything else, I want to know You. And as I walk that path towards learning more of You, help me to stay humble. Keep me from thinking I have it all figured out, and help me to have patience who don’t understand me. Help me to speak and to write and to love in such a way that others would be able to see You and know You and love You better.