Jesus: Rescue and Renewal (part 2)
Temple, Supper and Cross
Jesus chose the Passover for its symbolism of the rescue and deliverance of God. The freedom did not come in the form of an attack on the Roman garrison, but at the temple itself. Declaring it corrupt, he performed one of his greatest symbolic actions, overturning tables and, for a short but potent time, preventing the normal business (the continual offering of sacrifices). This was no mere cleanup operation, but a sign that the Temple itself was under divine judgment. God was going to destroy the city and the temple, and would vindicate not the Jewish nation as a whole, but Jesus himself and his followers.
God was about to act to bring in the kingdom, but in a way that none of Jesus’ followers had anticipated. The real enemy, after all, was not Rome, but the powers of evil.
Jesus spoke of the Passover bread as his own body that would be given on behalf of his friends, as he went out to take on himself the weight of evil so that they wouldn’t have to bear it themselves.
His death would do what the Temple, with its sacrificial system, had pointed toward but had never actually accomplished. In meeting the fate which was rushing toward him, he would be the place where heaven and earth met, as he hung suspended between the two. He would be the place where God’s future arrived in the present, with the kingdom of God celebrating its triumph over the kingdoms of the world by refusing to join in their spiral of violence. He would act out, finally, his own interpretation of the ancient prophecies which spoke to him of a suffering Messiah. The death of Jesus of Nazareth as the king of the Jews, the bearer of Israel’s destiny, the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people of old, is either the most stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or it is the fulcrum around which world history turns. Christianity is based on the belief that it was and is the latter.