When Jesus rode into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover He was greeted by crowds singing His praise, seemingly recognizing Him to be sent of God. But Jesus came with an agenda for more than mere festivities. He went straight into the Temple and began to deliberately make a big scene. No doubt this was premeditated.
As Jesus entered the outer court, He took it upon Himself to start aggressively flipping the tables of the businessmen who were selling livestock there. He also took the time to fashion a whip, with which He proceeded to drive out the animals that were being sold. He shouted about how unfair it was that their business was occupying this space, quoting from Isaiah 56:7…“For My house will be called a house of prayer for ALL nations.” This was a holy, staged disruption. It was a demonstration, if you will.
Scholars say these businessmen were selling their goods in “the Court of the Gentiles” — the one place non-majority culture worshippers could come and serve the Lord. The Jews at that time had the whole Temple set up exclusively for their worship privileges, but God had intended His home to be welcoming to every ethnic group. And the marginal space that religious leadership had segregated for these minorities to worship in was now being filled with Jewish commerce instead.
Our Lord was not merely demanding that He be loved more than financial profit was loved. In one sense He already had the adoration of the masses. He was also taking a stand to dignify and make room for everyone in the house of God. And He was not afraid of offending His fans in the process.
Later in Scripture, after Christ’s ascension, the Holy Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem. The Spirit came with what is described as sounding like a “mighty rushing wind” — the winds of change. Suddenly those gathered to worship began to supernaturally speak in a wide variety of tongues, miraculously praising God in languages that all the outside foreigners understood. Again, the Lord had set the scene for holy chaos… a disruptive sign and wonder. In doing so, He was affirming that “all nations” were to be included in His worship. Or as the prophet Joel had said, God’s Presence was coming upon “all flesh.”
Our Lord is not an apathetic person. Jesus came moved with compassion, flinging open the doors for all people to enter His Kingdom. And then He came once more in Spirit, standing in solidarity with the diverse spectrum of humanity. Again, He did not mind whether or not His methods made everyone comfortable.
Today on Pentecost (May 31st), we celebrate that great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the launching of the global Jesus movement. This movement is for the inclusion of all in God’s family — as many as will come. We are now the international temple of God’s Spirit.
I want to encourage those of you who are working to live in a way that is socially conscious. Take some time today to honor the occasion in the midst of this painful moment for our world. Remember the Presence that was poured out for you to access. Be filled afresh with the comfort that only His manifest nearness can bring. Encounter the living God, listen to His still-small-voice and let Him re-energize your heart. We can’t continue His ministry without continually drawing afresh from our Source. And in Christ, the Spirit’s wild, demonstrable, refreshing, empowering touch is freely available to us all.