The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:13-17
In June 1942, it seemed to many the United States was backpedaling, suffering repeated defeat to the Japanese armed forces. It didn’t look good for the foreseeable future! But unknown to all but a few, code breakers in Pearl Harbor had ‘hacked’ the Japanese military communications code. Using this information, the US Navy figured out where the next attack would occur and determined a strategic plan for an astounding naval defeat of the Japanese Navy. This turned the table for the Pacific conflict. Yes, the war continued until September 1945 with many battles and loss of life for both sides. Nevertheless, this particular battle, Midway, turned the tables of this aspect of World War II and the United States was on the offensive for the remainder of the Pacific war.
The same could be said for what Jesus was doing to the Jewish tradition. Jesus’ teachings kept moving the focus of God-worship from where the people were to where God meant it to be. All of the Jewish practices and sacrifices were being shifted and moved to be Jesus centric. The temple was being moved from an iconic structure in Jerusalem to the human heart. The focus of practices was being moved from a legal to a love aspect. Their earth’s axis was shifting! If ever a ‘turning of the tables’ was experienced, they were neck deep in it! Their checklist to God was shredded.
The Jewish traditional practices when Jesus arrived on the scene were very old. As time progressed, layers upon layers of practices were added to the originals outlined by God through Moses. As time moved on, they became rote, highly repeated, what some of us might call a rut. I once heard a preacher say ruts were graves with the ends knocked out. How descriptive that was for me, and I’ve never forgotten it. If you find your prayer, praise, and posture towards God becoming rut-like, perhaps changing things up would help. Consider your praise and worship patterns, whether prayer, singing, journaling, reading the Bible, or one of many other things, and doing them differently for a time. A week, or perhaps a month would do. Turn the tables for yourself to reinvigorate your time with Jesus.
By Rich Obrecht