Today's Reading: Matthew 24
A funny thing happens to me when I read a passage using lectio divina style. Lectio Divina is an ancient practice of slowly and meditatively reading scripture. As you read, you wait for a phrase or word to leap out at you. Once it does, you hold it, examine it and listen to what God is saying to you through it.
Today, I was fascinated by the phrase "Jesus left the temple and walked away."
I set that phrase in the floor of my mind and walked around it, looking at it from many angles.
On the surface, Jesus has finished worship and is leaving that holy space to continue his day. Perhaps he has been refreshed by being with other believers and now continues on his journey.
But then I think, how does Jesus worship if he himself is God and is the object of all worship in heaven, on earth and under the earth? I also ponder that it is not possible for Jesus to leave a holy place because his very presence makes any place holy.
As I move around this phrase, I ask myself, "How can Jesus leave the temple when he himself IS the temple?" I then remember how God's vision of a place of worship is a tabernacle--a place which moves wherever God leads, a tent not set in stone. This temple cannot move. It cannot follow Jesus. It is as stuck in its traditions and falsehood as it is upon its foundation. Is Jesus leaving and walking away from the cultic center of a people, and therefore walking away from them?
As I walk around this passage, I bump into Jesus' disciples who are examining their own lectio divina word. They are stuck on the temple. "Come over here, Jesus," they say. "Come over here and look at this temple, these gorgeous stones. Let's stand and ponder them awhile."
I want to laugh at them. I want to tell them they are distracted by stones and buildings. I want to tell them they have once again missed the point. Don't they see Jesus? Don't they know he is the stone, the rock of all ages? Don't they know he is the temple, the living, moving presence of God? Why do they think they need to show Jesus anything he doesn't already see? Is Jesus so dull that he needs his disciples to call his attention to anything, much less a building? Haven't they learned the things which bring awe to people are usually the very things Jesus leaves behind--walks away from?
As I pick up my phrase and now walk further in the passage, Jesus is warning me not to be deceived, not to be distracted by false teachers, false messiahs. "Walk away from them and follow me," I hear him say.
LORD, today you must teach me to recognize and leave the false.
LORD, today you must teach me to not be distracted by the things of this world.
LORD, today you must teach me to listen to your warning and to walk into your great unknown.