They once made movies that had no sound. They were black and white, and they would have a piano player sitting there playing along with the images. Men with names like Buster and Chaplin and Lloyd would entertain people with stand-up slapstick comedy of a sort that is rare today. Buster Keaton was a very physical actor, often called “The Great Stone Face” because of his stoic deadpan look. Remember the story of the “Railrodder” made by the National Film Board of Canada? He starts in England and ends up in a cross Canada trip on a powered open rail car. He is just going through his everyday life when suddenly “Bam!” all this starts happening. That is what happens in our story today of Jesus. He is starting out in ministry and doing stuff with His family when, “Bam!” life jumps out and grabs Him. It’s not even an event that grabs Him, it is people. Let’s look at the context…
Context – Everyday kind of living
Vs 12 Family: Ministry starts with family. It is neat to see Jesus in this context. We see Jesus 3 times in His life: His birth, His dedication (at age 12), and His ministry (at age 30). What did He do for the first 30 years? I think it was spent with family – learning and growing and enjoying fellowship. Focusing on family is focusing on God, as He calls us to be faithful stewards of the things in our life. For me to honour my wife and spend quality time with my kids is a God thing. If my father threatened to disown me if I didn’t deny Jesus, that’s different. Jesus later says I came to separate father from son (Matthew 10:335), but that context focuses on having to choose between family and God.
Vs 13 Fulfilled spiritual disciplines. Jesus did what was important. He went to each Passover in Jerusalem as a good Jew. There was a deeper reason why He went. Why were the Jews to go in the first place? It was about the temple, about dealing with sins, about meeting God.
Conversation – Everyday focus
Self-righteous leaders – Pride in self and works is a dangerous thing. It grows like a disease.
Leaders seeking personal gain. Cheating the masses – Temple doves were 4 times as much as “regular ones” which always seemed to have a blemish (law of supply and demand – Can you really put a price on grace?)
Vs 19 God’s plan will not be thwarted – destroy the temple and in 3 days I will raise I up. We don’t always understand in the present (misinterpret) but God will make it plain to see in His own timing. There was much change in Jerusalem in the early church. God directed people to divest themselves of personal stuff. People liquefied all their assets and gave it to the church, and everybody had all things in common. Why? People would have been saying, “what is this all about? It doesn’t make sense.” At the time, it didn’t, but in 70 AD Rome had had enough of the Israelites, and they laid siege to Jerusalem. If you had property, it was gone. If you had a secret stash, it was useless as you were dragged off to slavery. God prepared the church before hand and put the money and resources to use before the Romans came and took it all away.
So how does this story, this context and conversation speak to us today?
Calling – Free grace
God calls us to our families: There is the balance between ministry and stewardship. To neglect children or spouse or family for the sake of the ministry is no Godly. If a man or women takes on the responsibility of a marriage or family, that is a ministry in and of itself and should never be treated lightly.
God calls us to give grace freely: The synagogue had become a place of bad commerce. How horrendous that the Proclaimers of Grace should be more concerned with making money. To charge for grace is an affront to God. What is a soul worth? Jesus died for whoever would believe. What are we willing to give up for the sake of the Gospel? Your neighbor needs help? Give it freely.
God reminds us that He is sovereign: Who are we to demand of God an explanation? What have we done that deserves His notice? Our relationship is one of Grace. We need to walk in the way we know of, trusting Him all along the way. He has promised His presence and His Spirit. He has given us free grace, and we need to extend that to others