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Little did they know just how much Jesus would turn their world upside down. Little could they have understood that Jesus would change everything. Even though Rome would continue its cruel reign, the world of power was about to be turned upside down. Even though the Temple would continue its tradition-bound pattern of rituals, its collapse was coming. Jesus would undermine it by teaching that God desires not sacrifice but a broken and a contrite heart.
Yes, Jesus would turn the world upside down, politically, spiritually, a new way of life. A way of peace instead of conflict. A way of love instead of prejudice. A way of trust instead of suspicion. They could not have known, as Hosannas sprang from their throats, just how fully their expectations would be met. And the man on the donkey, that beast so incongruous for a king, was now on a collision course with the way things are. He would, in this coming week, turn the world upside down.
For during this week to come, Jesus would climb up to Mount Zion, to the great Temple, and would literally turn upside down the tables of the moneychangers. He would throw out the greedy and the callous who exploited the poor, and would cry out a word of welcome, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all the nations.” The old way of excluding was turned upside down.
And during this week to come, Jesus would encounter the privileged and the powerful, who would challenge Him, “By what authority are you doing these things?” Jesus refused to play their power game, and left these who lived off the fat of the land and the tithes of the people groping for a way to hang on to their influence. The old way of spiritual arrogance was turned upside down.
Moreover, during this week to come, Jesus would take on the ultra-left, the revolutionaries, the Pharisees, who wanted to get Him to make a political statement against Caesar. “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus astounded them by making them face the consequences of irresponsibility. The old way of pretense politics, easy ideas tossed about with no concern for the consequences – that was turned upside down.
And then, right on time, during this same week, Jesus would take on the ultra-right, the dilettante Sadducees, who toyed with vapid ideas and played little word-games with the truth. “Teacher, what about this, what about that?” And Jesus flogged them with their own words, accusing them of knowing neither the word of God nor its power. The old way of polite scepticism – this way He turned upside down.
What a week it would be! A week of upending everything. A week of upending the scribes for their fondness for being noticed as pious and scholarly. A week of upending the wealthy for their showy gifts, altogether unlike the widow with her two sacrificial coins. And even a week of alarming, shocking language about tearing down the Temple and rebuilding it in three days. The Temple, the house of God, torn down? That would indeed turn their world upside down. But then to rebuild it in three days? Jesus even turns common sense upside down.
And just when you think there is nothing left to turn upside down, He scolds His friends for diminishing a woman’s extravagant gift of ointment. Just
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