by Shaina Bolin
Jesus entered the temple and looked around; he saw the booths with vendors selling sacrificial animals to people coming to worship. He heard the noise, saw the grins of sly merchants, the impish hesitancy of customers overpaying for a dove. In my mind, he probably flashbacked to a time when he was growing up and going to the temple with his parents; Mary and Joseph buying a dove for sacrifice, the only thing they could afford. Doves were most often the smallest, most inexpensive sacrifice people could buy there; it was the thing all the poor people bought.
We all know what Jesus did next. It’s no wonder he got pissed and overturned the merchants’ tables. It’s no wonder he threw them out of the temple for the injustice they were imposing on the poverty stricken. I believe that what Jesus witnessed in the temple prior to Passover, prior to his crucifixion, hit him personally, because of his own family’s status.
This is a side of Jesus almost no one talks about: the violent, angry man. I think many, myself included, are more comfortable with a meek, accepting all the children on his lap kind of Jesus. It’s much easier to understand this Jesus, rather than this side of him that gets angry, loses his shit, mourns, even though those are all things every human does at some point.
I recently had coffee with a friend of mine who converted to Judaism. He said something so eye-opening, something I never really put that much thought into…Jesus was a Pharisaical Jew, meaning he was a Jew during the time that the Pharisees were basically the leaders of religion and law. Jesus wasn’t ever a Christian. He was a Jew. He was also a Pharisee.
And he rebelled in huge ways against his religion, against the political movement of his day.
Jesus represented a new movement of God, one that the Pharisees and Sadducees of that day couldn’t accept. It was much easier to kill him and persecute those who followed him, than it was to change the things they thought were mainstays in their religion.
Sound familiar? Yeah, it should. Because it’s happening again; this time, within the Christian church. It’s happening here, in America, in our culture.
A few weeks ago, I posted a Gloria Steinem quote on my Facebook page. It said something about how we’ve raised our daughters like our sons, but not many have the courage to raise our sons like our daughters. Steinem wasn’t saying we should raise our boys to be girls, instead what she means is, we’ve taught our daughters to stand up for themselves, to realize that being feminine doesn’t mean being passive. But not many have the courage to raise our sons to accept the vulnerable parts of their hearts, to cry, to believe that emotions are ok, and that it isn’t inherently masculine to be dominant. I received a few comments from older parents urging me to raise my children to be “like Jesus.”
I love all you beautiful Christians, but I don’t always know what you mean when you say vague things like this! What does it mean to be “like Jesus?”
Man, I have wrestled with that so much lately. Jesus was human, but he was also divine? Does that mean Mary had the most perfect son, who never protested when she said no to him or who never made it his business to do his business on every single tree in the village park? Does that mean he still had to learn respect just like we all do during childhood? Or did he just already know that he was to respect elders, his parents, his brothers and sisters, his friends?
When I think about teaching my children to be “like Jesus,” I usually think of the time Jesus overturned the tables in the temple. He knew when to be assertive, when to stand up for the powerless, but he also knew when to be submissive, when to lay down his life. He treated people with compassion, no matter what they did, where they came from, what their checkered pasts looked like, what sicknesses they had. He respected others; he never pushed his way in or pushed his ideas on anyone. He listened, he responded with wisdom, with words and actions that were consistent and could cut straight to the heart of a matter. He took care of other people, he protected them, he fed them, and he gave them hope. He gave many of them new purpose and new perspective.
He sided with God. He didn’t side with a political party or a religion. He started something completely new. He started a revolution.
That’s who I’m teaching my kids to be like: compassionate, respectful, assertive, discerning, revolution starter Jesus.
Now, what Jesus started thousands of years ago has become what is modern day Christianity, and it’s changing again, I believe. I can’t follow Jesus the same way my parents did or my grandparents for that matter; this world is different. I’m hesitant to say it’s worse…it’s just different. There are different issues, things that weren’t as prevalent twenty years ago, or maybe even ten years ago.
I believe there is a new thing happening in Christianity, especially in American culture. I believe there’s a call to vulnerability and a call to care for each other that wasn’t as obvious before. Being “like Jesus” means rebelling against our stale religion and its old strongholds. It means rebelling against the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality of our government and respective political parties. It means protecting and caring for people in ways we haven’t before. It means rebelling against the idea of individualism in our culture.
It means starting a revolution.