Instead of receiving light the crowds “see” by projecting darkness. A war horse is perceived instead of a donkey. Instead of a carpenter with His motley crew made up of the likes of fishermen, a tax collector, and perhaps most recently two former blind beggars, they see a commander with SEAL Team Six; they see David and His mighty men. But instead of riding into the royal city and purging if of Romans, Jesus comes to the Temple and purges it. Jesus is angry. Check. They wanted that. They wanted a flood, it was just that the waters were not flowing where they wanted them to be channelled. Instead of sweeping away the filth of pagan Romans, it was cleansing the Temple.
The Jews had the basic ingredients right, they just fuddled the recipe and mixed it according to their own whim. All the right puzzle pieces were there, no foreign ones were mixed in, they were not trying to make syncretic pagan Messiah. They were guardians of the Old Testament puzzle box, no foreign pieces allowed, but they hammered the right pieces together to make a Picasso/Frankenstein Christ after their own marred image. They tried to fill in fulfillment. Like Joseph they say, “No, your hands are crossed! The other way, the other way!” Blessing and curse are falling, but this time the darkness and flood fall on Goshen.
Jesus is angry at sin. In contrast the leaders are sinfully angry. True worship finally happens in the Temple, and the leaders get mad. How many American churches would Jesus walk into angry? How many churches would be angry if Jesus walked into them? I’m afraid that many American churches should be afraid. We have built levees of religiosity to make us feel secure in our city of sin, but they only allow the flood waters to rise higher. By our acts of piety we want to merit. And merit we shall have. Salvation is by grace. Judgment is by merit. “Mount Zion Church” is below sea level, she is below the Dead Sea, and a flood is coming. Beware of playing with holy things. Better to sin in the dark than against the light.
How do we know if we are above the flood plain? How do we know if we are on the true Zion of God? Here is a good diagnostic question: Does our “worship” lead to prayer? If prayer is used as nothing more than a curtain drop to change the props on stage—beware! If the atmosphere of all your religious activity actually wars against prayer—beware! Does the worship gathering of your church birth desperation, confession, joy, repentance, and faith expressed to God in prayer? If not, you may find your communion cup to be full of a vintage you can’t stomach. Your cup may indeed overflow, but the cup of salvation will have been replaced with a cup of wrath that you will drown in.