Best of Daily Reflections: The Unexpected Jesus

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

Mark 11:17

When Jesus entered the Temple on the day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, those who had welcomed him the day before no doubt expected something big to happen. Perhaps Jesus was going to announce the beginning of his kingship. Perhaps he was going to raise up an army to oust the Romans. Perhaps something even more amazing.

But nobody would have expected Jesus to do what he actually did in the Temple. There, in the holy place of God, in the center of Jewish religion, Jesus drove out the people who were selling sacrificial animals and overturned the tables of the money changers who enabled foreign visitors to purchase sacrifices. In effect, Jesus shut down the operation of the Temple. How shocking this must have been to all, even Jesus’ closest followers.

He explained his actions by quoting Scripture. First he cited a portion of Isaiah 56:7 that referred to the Temple as a “house of prayer.” In fact, this prophecy spoke of the Temple as a house of prayer for the Gentiles. Jesus connected this passage with one from Jeremiah that referred to the Temple as a “den of thieves” (Jer. 7:11). In context, this phrase revealed that the Jewish people had been thinking that they were safe from God’s judgment because they could “hide out” in the Temple, even though they were egregiously violating God’s law. Through Jeremiah, God predicted that he would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem and send his people into exile (Jer. 7:14-15).

Thus, Jesus not only ransacked the Temple courts and interrupted its sacrificial function, but also quoted a passage of Scripture that pointed to the destruction of the Temple itself. This unexpected action and explanation no doubt distressed those who supported Jesus. It gave his opponents reason and perhaps even the opportunity to have Jesus killed.

Even today, when we seek to take Jesus seriously, he does the unexpected. Sometimes this happens as we wrestle with his words and see something that we have overlooked before. Sometimes this happens as Jesus, through the Spirit, calls us out of our comfort zone and into risky discipleship. In these and so many other ways, Jesus overturns our expectations as he seeks to mold us and use us for his purposes.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When have you experienced the unexpected Jesus? Do you sense that, even now, Jesus is calling you to something that you had not anticipated? How are you responding? Why?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, even as you spoke and acted in such unexpected ways when you entered Jerusalem and its Temple, so you have done in my life. Perhaps the most unexpected of all is my experience of your grace. This is nothing I ever deserved or would think to receive. Thank you!

You have taken my life in unexpected directions. Some of them I have welcomed. With others I have dragged my feet. But, as I look back on my life, I can see how you have been mercifully and wondrously guiding me. Thank you!

Lord, I would confess that I like to have you “figured out,” as if this were possible. Help me to be open to who you really are and what you really want to say to me. May I be ready to embrace the unexpected as you surprise me with your vision and grace. Amen.


Your Work Matters

What if your work is drudgery? What if getting out of bed to head to your daily grind is just about to push you over the edge? What if Monday morning always arrives with a feeling a dread? We all want to feel as of the work we're doing is meaningful. We want it to fill us up, and we pray it makes a difference in the world for good. But what if you're stuck in a job that has nothing to do with what you feel called to do? What if you feel trapped and discouraged? In the series, Your Work Matters, we'll be asking some of these same questions. We don't promise to have all (or any) of the answers, but we encourage you to wrestle with these tough and painful issues, right along with us. Tell us your story. Offer your wisdom, and come away encouraged that you are not alone, and that God sees you, right where you are.