Voices of Holy Week: Scribes and Pharisees

Bible Reading: Luke 19.45-20.8

We have become all quite familiar with how things operate, and even though we might not be entirely comfortable with it all, we put up with it. It might not be the best example of the way God’s people should be, but it keeps the books balanced and seems to get people through the door.

But this Jesus has been becoming increasingly more difficult to deal with. It seemed to be fairly playful to start with, criticising our teaching and the way we did things. His disciples seemed to be interested in what he was saying but were broadly in line with how we liked to do things. But after a while he seemed to start saying things that really weren’t what we’d want to have said. He started to suggest that Caesar wasn’t to be obeyed. Didn’t he understand that if we disobeyed the emperor we’d all get arrested? What was he thinking? He needed to stop stirring up both around the temple and in the community. He was getting progressively worse.

Then one day there was this huge commotion in the Temple. It wasn’t normal for this kind of behaviour. He was knocking over tables. There were coins rolling around on the stone floor, and the air was full of the sound of the birds released from cages and feathers. Doves were flying around and there were people shouting and jeering. He was telling them that they had no place in the Temple. Doesn’t he know how much that means to our livelihood? No one will look after our finances and give us a future if we can’t keep doing what we’re doing. His behaviour wasn’t appropriate. It just showed us up.

We had to talk about it. We got some others together and decided that the easiest way to sort him out was to get him arrested and let the Romans deal with him. We tried to find out why he was doing this, but he just answered us with a question. What were we supposed to do? He questioned us on a matter of theology, on principles about whether we believed God to be at work in John’s baptism. He was asking us about what it meant to believe and whether we believed in God. He really put us on the spot. How dare he. He quizzed us. He wanted to show us that we needed to learn, but we weren’t taking that. We know what we are and what we do. Who was he to suggest anything different? What would that do to our comfortable living?

So we found it too much. The Romans got spoken to but we needed to get some more evidence. We weren’t able to pin him down but we knew we needed to get evidence for him being a threat to the Empire. Turning up on a donkey like a king wasn’t going to be enough. What was it about him that made him so popular with the people? Why did he get such large crowds turn out for him? Perhaps if we could bottle some of that, but keep our Temple as it is, then maybe we’ll do ok too. But he has to go. He’s making us uncomfortable and getting in our way.

That’s it. We’ll do it. We’ll find a way to make him disappear. We deserve to have a quiet life. He’s clearly not going to give us one of those.


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