Day 36

Tuesday, March 30
Luke 21, 22:1-2

Have you ever gotten to the end of a long conversation and realized that you could go on for hours more but you’ve unfortunately only got 5 more minutes before you have to walk into the dentist’s office? Maybe that’s a little too specific, but you catch my drift. This happens to me all the time. I get into a good chat or a good meeting, the flow is natural, then all of a sudden I realize I’ve got to start cutting it off because time’s almost up. What’s my go-to strategy in this scenario? Simple: I cram all the stuff I was planning to say in the next hour into these final precious moments. Believe it or not, I’m not great at closing meetings.

But that’s kind of Jesus teaching in the temple. He’s getting close to the end, and he knows it. Soon he’ll be eating with the disciples at the Last Supper, and after that, the hours are literally numbered. These are his last few days teaching people. So what does he do? He tries to prepare them for what it’s going to be like when he’s gone. Have any experience with things like this? I imagine it’s kind of like when parents send their kids off to college. You think you’ve done a good job preparing them, but all of a sudden you’re pulling through the gates to drop them off and realize there’s a David Letterman Top 10 list of “Things your kid needs to know before college” and you’ve still got 11 things to teach them.

So what is it that Jesus wanted the people in the temple to know? First, don’t jump on the bandwagon of every leader who comes after me. Still feels like good advice, huh? It’s easy to get sucked into cults of personality and hero worship, but that’s not Jesus. Jesus wasn’t about waving batons and shouting, “It’s me! It’s me! Focus on me.” So when Jesus is warning the people here, he doesn’t want them getting swept up in crazes of the most dynamic leaders when he’s gone.

But what else does he highlight? That it’s going to be hard. There will be tough times ahead. In fact, to be a disciple of Jesus meant that you might even face hard times because you were a disciple of Jesus. You may be hated. You may be arrested. Heck, you may DIE! It wasn’t exactly a rosy picture Jesus was painting. But I’m convinced underneath it all was something incredibly true. The Kingdom of God, following the way of Jesus, isn’t about the most popular path or the path of least resistance. It’s not about upward mobility and comfort. In so many ways, it’s a way of life totally incongruent with the American Dream and individual gains. The truth is, I’m not sure that living out the Kingdom of God today, I mean really living it out, would result in a whole lot different outcome than 2000 years ago. Maybe that’s why it was the last big thing he wanted his disciples to get. It was easy to follow Jesus when it was cozy. But following Jesus rarely led to cozy places. And he needed them to know that.
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