Half-way through the season of Lent, as we focus on being C students, we meet Jesus on a “crash course”. Animals being let loose and likely running away, tables being overturned, big questions being asked. John 2:13-22 has Jesus anything but “meek and mild” (see the poem by Charles Wesley here). The docile Jesus that some might prefer is not seen this week- instead- Jesus appears to be giving his followers a crash course on what the next three years of his ministry will hold.
The disciples best hold on, as they travel with this impassioned carpenter’s son from the backwaters of Galilee who comes to the courtyard of the temple in Jerusalem and calls out the moneychangers and the temple practices. Jesus doesn’t upset the apple cart, instead he lets loose the animals sold to be sacrificed. He protests the making of his Father's house into a market place. Jesus' actions will speak louder than his words. The disciples of Jesus have a lot to learn.
As students, we all have a variety of ways we learn. One of the values I appreciate from my growing up, was my mother’s conviction that it was most important to “learn to learn”. She would tell me as a child that if I could learn how I best learn, I would have a life time of learning ahead of me. She is also the one who first taught me about Jesus. It has been a gift to have spent time continuing to learn about Jesus- this love of God that came in the flesh to help us learn how much God loves us. So who first taught you about Jesus? And how do you best learn? Consider your answers to these questions as we continue being C students.
This week we meet Jesus in the second chapter of John following the first “sign” of him changing water to wine at the wedding in Cana to now calling out those who have made his father’s house a market place. The three other gospel writers when telling this story of Jesus overturning the tables will accuse the moneychangers of making the temple a “den of thieves”.
The life and ministry of Jesus is told in four different voices. The four gospels give us particular insights as we learn about Jesus of Nazareth, who comes with zeal. Jesus speaks words that aren’t understood when first uttered. But later, after Jesus is raised from the dead, they make sense. The disciples and the crowds that followed Jesus drawn to his teaching received a number of crash courses.
Over the years I have felt there are some times that the only course available is a “crash course”. Today March 5, 2020 is one of the dates used to mark the one year anniversary of Covid-19. This past year has been long crash course in a multitude of subjects from pandemics to social distancing protocols. Learning zoom, virtual connections, new ways of shopping, traveling (or not), marking milestones, connecting with one another …the topics of these crash courses are many and new ones continue to pop up (such as how to get a vaccination). Even as it can seem overwhelming and relentless with all the crash courses God is with us. We get to keep reminding one another of this- teaching one another that as we move forward with new ways of learning and being students God is with us. We are called to be both students and teachers. We share what we have learned. This is what the disciples learned to do.
And every step of the way… the one who made a whip of cords, turned over tables, let loose animals is walking with us step by step by step as our beloved teacher. The passion of Jesus, his zeal, are on full display in this week’s gospel text. This isn’t Jesus meek and mild- no- this is Jesus full of conviction and appearing sort of wild. One of the things I learned over the many, many years in school- it wasn’t really the topic that created the most engaging learning- it’s the teacher.
Will you continue to walk alongside me as together we let Jesus be our Teacher? Both the Jesus who is kind, compassionate, moved to tears, and accepting of the outsider, outcast and stranger ( this may have been the Jesus Charles Wesley hoped to express in his poem) and the Jesus in John's gospel who has an intense passion that will move him to whip into shape the ways of understanding, seeing and experiencing God and what God desires of us.
This journey of being C students for the season of Lent hits the half-way mark this week. Our journey to the cross in this season marked by ashes, fasting, alms-giving and prayer is one in which I invite you to keep learning to learn. It is a life long education. You will be at the end of your time of learning when you take your last breath. So there is no need to rush to graduation that takes place when you are six feet under that is when the course is over and the education complete.
The song in the video at the top of this post has come to mind for me as we mark the one year anniversary of the first Covid-19 case in Colorado, as we grieve the more than two million deaths worldwide and over five hundred thousand in the United States. We have the opportunity to be people who share the passion of Jesus loving with all that we have and all that we are- may we have zeal for this ongoing learning to live as those who love with abandon.