Beth Moore — When Jesus Makes A Mess
Four scenes in four completely different sets of circumstances and socialization and I want you, if you would please, in all four of these scenes, try to picture what the expression of Jesus might have been. Because what do you think in that moment he looked like? What was the look on his face? So we're really landing at 21:12 for our lesson tonight but I wanna start reading at 20:20. It says this: "Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, 'What do you want?' And she said to him, 'Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.'"
Want you to pause there a moment and I want you to notice with me that in verse 17, look just a little bit up from there, Jesus is now moving with them toward Jerusalem. This is going to be the final week. This is his final trip into Jerusalem before he is arrested and beaten and hung on the cross and then is raised by God from the dead. So these are critical moments. He knows everything that is about to happen and they're moving toward Jerusalem. He has said to them in verses 18 and 19, "I'm going up to Jerusalem to be delivered to the chief priests and scribes. They're gonna condemn me to death. They're gonna deliver me over to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and I'm gonna be raised on the third day".
Very next scene, we have the mother of these two sons kneeling down. Notice the reading again, verse 20: "Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, 'What do you want?'" Well, wait a second. She asked him for something and then he said, "What is it you want"? Do you get the feeling that he's going, like, "Can we just, like, cut to what you're really asking me? Because she's already asked him something. We just don't know what it is exactly. So he says, "Go ahead. What is it you want"?
Well, here is what I want. Would you just say that these two sons of mine are gonna sit on the right and one on the left, just picture, I don't know. I don't know, I'm just saying picture what his expression looked like right this moment: "Okay, let's see now. I'm going to be flogged and mocked and hung on the cross and I'm gonna give me... but, by all means, let's talk about what's gonna happen to the two of you regarding my throne. Yes, yes, let's do. Verse 22: "'You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?' And they said to him, 'We are able.'" Okay, "You do not know what you are asking".
Who's he talking to now? Oh, the two of them. So, I mean, there's all sorts of questions going here that weren't straight out because now he's getting down to who really asked the question, and it's the two sons who put their mother up to it and their mother's the one voicing it 'cause who on earth can say no to a mother? Jesus. Verse 23: "He says, 'And you will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant.'" You know that since he's sitting at the right hand of God, one of them would have to sit on God's lap but I don't think that's coming into play here at all. Like, you know, you don't know what you're asking because I'm sitting at his right hand. That puts one of you on his lap. Is that comfortable to you since he's the all-consuming fire, it's gonna be hot on your behind. That's all I'm saying. That's all I'm saying. "It's been prepared for those whom my Father has chosen".
Verse 24: "Then when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him," I'm in verse 25, "and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'".
Verse 29: "Now as they went out of Jericho, so they're starting up toward Jerusalem. They're gonna go through Jericho, they're coming out of Jericho now, a great crowd followed them". Verse 30: "And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!' And stopping, Jesus called to them and said, 'What do you want me to do for you?' And they said to him, 'Lord, let our eyes be opened.' And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him".
Can we just hold on just a second there because you probably already noticed something that Jesus is asking the same question in both scenes, isn't that fascinating? What is it you want? He says to the mother of the two sons asking to sit one at his right hand and one at his left. And then to these two, it's a pair of men, in both segments Jesus is asking, "What is it that you want me to do"? "Oh, would you just, like, seat us at your right hand and at your left"?
You know, when you're, like, in 6th grade and you've got your tray and it's lunch time at the cafeteria and, you know, if you're in the 6th grade it's gonna come at, like, 11 or it's gonna be, like, at 1:30. The sixth graders have the lamest lunch hour of all, of all. And you're just moving down, just getting your lunch tray, moving down, moving down, moving down. And you wish it would just last forever moving down because you know there's gonna become that crisis moment in the cafeteria line when you're gonna have to turn around like this and you're gonna have to look at the tables and you're gonna wonder who you're gonna sit with.
Anybody remember those days? Because I was raised in a small town. Now, in a small town I had lots of friends one day but I never knew if I had the same friends the next day. You would have absolutely no idea. You would not have any idea what had happened overnight. No idea whatsoever. But in a small town, if one of them is mad at you in the group, they are all mad at you in the group. And so you never know. You turn around, either they're for you or against you. Either you're their best friend or you are their worst enemy. That's how it goes. But you know the crisis of turning around. "Who am I gonna sit with"?
I mean, it's back to middle school because where we sit's important. Who will sit at my right hand and my left? Did you save places for people who would sit at your right hand and for your left? I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm all for having seats for people. I'm just saying, there's a lot of pecking order in where we get to sit. Then he says to the two, crying out, "Son of David, have mercy on me". "What do you want me to do for you"? "Lord, let our eyes be opened. Just let our eyes be opened. If we could just see".
Can you imagine that the first glimpse of sight you would ever have would be the face of Jesus? I think it will seem that way anyway. I do. When we're home with him and see him. I think it will be like we've been blind all this time, that it will be such sight, such revelation, it will be as if the scales had been on our eyes all that time and suddenly, we could see. "And he had pity on them and he touched them and they recovered their sight and they followed him". "And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, 'Who is this?' And the crowds said, 'This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.'
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, 'It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.' And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' they were indignant, and they said to him, 'Do you hear what these are saying?' And Jesus said to them, 'Yes; have you never read, 'Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise"?' And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there," about a mile and a half from Jerusalem. Four little scenes on the trip of his life. And it culminates in this big scene where he comes up into the temple plaza and he starts turning everything upside down.
Title of our lesson is "When Jesus Makes a Mess". When this is the way Jesus enters the place where you've come, thinking you're just going to worship and there he is, the cornerstone of the whole temple. We're told he is the cornerstone. The cornerstone of the whole temple comes walking right up on flesh and blood feet and he turns everything upside down and you know as well as I do that he has a way of turning some things upside down when he shows up unexpectedly in a situation because we have an upside down kingdom. He said, "You have made it a den of robbers". I thought to myself, "There's all sorts of ways we can rob people, especially in Christian communities. We can rob them of their right to grace. We can rob people of the truth, the real live truth, of the gospel. We can rob people by taking advantage of their naivety".
There are all sorts of ways we can rob people but here's the thing. Jesus strongly disapproves of what robs you. Jesus strongly disapproves of what robs me. And so if we wanna know a situation where he's liable to walk in and make a mess, it's where somebody's getting robbed. Anybody have an "Amen" to say to that? Sometimes Jesus makes a mess to clean house. You can see it right there on the page of your Bible if you have translations that are in any way formal. You'll see that right before verse 12 there'll be a little caption in lots and lots of your translations that says: "Jesus cleanses the temple". Now wait a second, what do you mean, "cleanses the..." He's cleaning it up. It doesn't look like he's cleaning it to me because what he's doing is he's going in there and he's turning everything upside down.
I mean, there's, like, pigeon poop flying, there's feathers everywhere, there's tables turned upside down, there's chairs turned upside... what part of that looks like a good cleaning to you? But he's cleansing the temple because he is about to come in and undo what is robbing someone of him. Oh yes, oh yes, he can and oh yes, he often will. I wanna tell you something. I pray somebody's got some kind of sense of value in this statement: Jesus does not bother making a mess in a house he could not care less about.
Somebody understand what I'm saying to them tonight. Why would he bother? He did not walk into a single house of anyone that made no place for God. We don't see him making a mess in any tax collector's home at this point. He's walking right in the place that God called a place where he dwelled. It was out of his zeal, the Gospel of John says, his zeal for his Father's house that he went into that place and turned it completely upside down because Jesus doesn't bother making a mess in a house he couldn't care less about. I want you to notice something with me in verse 13, all sorts of reasons we're gonna look at. Why he might come turning upside down all sorts of tables and chairs and going for what's robbing us of him.
But I want you to notice this with me in verse 13: "He said to them, 'It is written, '"My house shall be called a house of prayer"', but you make it a den of robbers.'" A house of prayer. I wanna remind you and I need you to remind me often that prayer is the business of the church. See, what had happened is the church had turned into a business. They had all their desks set up. They were making transactions. It was business, business, business. Everything else was incidental. And he came in and said, "I'll tell you what the business of the church is. The business of the church is prayer".
And I'd like to say that prayer is how Jesus gets into our business. Wouldn't you say that? And I wanna go further than that and say that prayer is also how Jesus gets us into his business. That's a gorgeous thing. It's what opens us up to one another's business because prayer is the business of the church, it's not just rituals that we've memorized although those can be beautiful things when we put fresh faith with it. To have a fresh encounter over it. But it's dialog, it's coming into communication with God, it's mindfulness of him. Praise to him, petition to him. Prayer is the business of the church.
Sometimes Jesus makes a mess to clean house. Number two is this: Sometimes Jesus overturns tables to show what's underneath. Anybody? But if the tables need overturning, we need to let Jesus do it instead of us. We're gonna come through the house and we're gonna turn everything, right, upside down, anybody? Anybody turned their own home upside down besides me? Can I see some hands please? 'Cause we're gonna tear this place up. We're tearing this place up. And I mean it's just strewn everywhere 'cause he says we're gonna clean house. We're gonna clean. Only we don't have the capacity to clean it up. All we know how to do is make the mess. I mean, we got the plan to clean it up but nobody is cooperating with our clean-up plan, nobody, nobody, because nobody admires us as the junior Jesus that we know that we are. Tiny Jesus, pocket Jesus, shoulder Jesus. Any Jesus but the real Jesus.
And so when we make a mess, it's just a mess. Right now, at this season, is there any chance for anybody in hearing that Jesus is messing with your world? Anybody? He's, like, "He's messing with my world. I had it the way I wanted it. You're messing with my world". As I was putting this lesson together, I was reminded of the verse in Matthew 10:34. Just sit where you are, I'm just gonna read it to you. Matthew 10:34, it's one of the most disturbing verses and it's Jesus. It's Jesus talking. He says this: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword".
Like, yay! I mean, this is the prince of peace. Peace and good will toward men. But the sword is never about violence, never, never, never where Jesus is concerned, never. It's not about violence. It's about dividing things where it is clear that these two things are not the same. If you look back, you can just jot this down and study it later. In Matthew 10:34 if you'll look in the context, he is going for the closest-knit group that we have in all of our lives and it's families, in-laws against in-laws, children against parents, brother and sister against one another. That he can come in and he could cause an uproar so that he could straighten something out. Anybody know what I'm talking about?
Why would he do such a thing? Why would a Savior who is calling us to unity ever bring division? I think maybe it's for times that we think that our personal peace is all about what is happening in our personal family unit that I am as at peace as all my closest people. Would anybody say that that's true? That's peace. That's peace to me. And he's going, "I'm just gonna tell you something. Your husband is not your prince of peace. Your daughter is not your princess of peace. And I need you to know the difference. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna just slice this right here and move these apart so that you can see the difference between what is of this world and what is not.
John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you". This is the best part. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid". My peace. How in the world would we know the difference between Christ's peace and what we would try to make peace of in our own little surrounding, manipulating everything so that we can live with all of it. How would we know the difference between the two if he did not separate them on occasion and go, "I'm gonna need you to really give this a good look". But what he's helping us see is, one is the lesser and one is the greater. One is temporal and flawed, and the other surpasses all understanding. You have never and I have never really known the peace of Christ until we have known it when everything is in uproar.
Let me tell you when you've known it. When you've been able to look round and go, "I honestly should be in 10.000 pieces". When you've gone and looked in your mirror and said, "Who are you? I demand to know. And what have you done with me? Because me and you are not the same person because I'm gonna tell you something, I would not be able to live with this. I would not be able to live with this upheaval". How will we ever know his peace if we don't know it in the middle of the biggest mess of chaos in our lives, was that you keep looking for peace. You keep swallowing that and chugging it back for peace. You keep manipulating this for peace. And screaming over here to bring peace. "My peace, I'll give to you. I do not give as the world gives".
It doesn't look like the world's peace. It's mine. Nobody can give it to you but me and until I move you back where you can see the difference between you having all the things that you think would bring you physical peace and what would bring you my peace, you will never know the difference. Sometimes, he disturbs our worldly peace so that he can give us his peace. The sword that divides flesh from spirit, what is Jesus and what is man, what is heaven and what is of this world.