Luke 19:45-48 (CEV)
45 When Jesus entered the temple, he started chasing out the people who were selling things. 46 He told them, “The Scriptures say, ‘My house should be a place of worship.’ But you have made it a place where robbers hide!”
47 Each day, Jesus kept on teaching in the temple. So the chief priests, the teachers of the Law of Moses, and some other important people tried to have him killed. 48 But they could not find a way to do it, because everyone else was eager to listen to him.
Eager To Listen
Have you ever sat spellbound by someone – so eager to listen that you are completely and totally mesmerized by every word that is being said, to the point where you become unaware of your surroundings?
Or have you ever picked up a book and become so lost in its pages that you are shocked to realize hours later that you have read through the entire day, and haven’t moved an inch in the process?
My family often tells me that I can be a bit intense, so maybe it’s just me that has that experience, I don’t know.
What I do know is that the people milling around the Temple, completing their pre-Passover sacrifices, are eager to listen to Jesus.
They sit around hanging on his every word.
They whisper to their neighbours in incredulity about what he has to say.
They call out to their brothers and uncles and cousins – sisters and mothers and friends – to invite them in to listen to this man from Galilee.
Because, in the words of the disciple Peter, “You have the words of eternal life.”
I can remember hearing about Jesus – and that he loved me – when I was just three years old. I am told that I would sing hymns in broken two-year-old remnants in the back of the car even before that. And despite a life that has included an awful lot of pain and sadness and sickness and disappointment – a life that has included trauma and disability and loss – a life that has included having to pull my faith out of the wreckage of multiple bad experiences of church – I have hung on to Jesus because I can’t shake the fact that these words have the capacity to bring life and hope and breath and peace and wholeness and all of the things my soul craves.
They are the words that I keep coming back to when my heart aches.
They are the words that have brought me out of some of the darkest places I’ve ever been, and kept me going when I wasn’t sure that anything could.
They are the words that have taught me about a life that can be lived differently – a life that can bring shalom and wholeness out of my heap of brokenness.
They are the words that have shown me that it’s possible to live out of love, not out of fear – and that this love Jesus offers can change everything.
And they are the words that have revealed to me the truth that this is not just for some enlightened, special few, but that it is offered to everyone – regardless of who they are or what they’ve done.
You see, in the face of plots against him, Jesus clears a space out of the impromptu marketplace and offers his final sermons in the outer courtyard of the temple.
You see, just days before his execution, Jesus marches bold as brass into the nest of power – Pharisees everywhere overseeing the religious rituals; Romans standing over them all along the top of the parapets – and creates this space where everyone – male, female, eunuch, Jew, Gentile, even Roman – can hear his words of love and truth and grace.
You see, in spite of where he’s going – or maybe because he knows exactly what comes next – Jesus breathes shalom over all the people at the Temple. One. More. Time.
Who, we are told, are eager to listen.
- What makes it hard for you to listen to Jesus?
- What hurts do you have? What disappointments have you experienced? Who has made promises they couldn’t keep? What leader has failed to live up to your expectations? When have you been abused or oppressed or lost someone you didn’t think you could live without? Who told you that you were excluded from what Jesus has to offer?
- What words of Jesus keep pulling you back in spite of it all?
- What would it mean to hold on to Jesus’ words? To wrestle with them until you knew for 100% certain that they were true – or not?
- Which words have you been deliberately avoiding?
- Which words would you need to start with?
- What would it look like for you to be eager to listen again?