The new temple dismounts and strolls around the old temple. The sound of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Those calls for rescue and freedom. ‘Hosanna! Save us!’ The sound had moved him to tears, for a people needing hope, longing for something more.
Later a different crowd, smaller yet more powerful, will call out for other things. But for now this vibrant, human temple strolls around the opulent world of this stone monument. This wonder of the world. This testimony to the greatness of power and money. Investment and capital. He is a different wonder of the world, a testimony to the kindness of God, the power of humility, the strength of service. In his mind’s eye he can already see the tables tumbling, the money spinning, the mouths frothing with indignation. How dare he threaten the systems of commerce and control. The gods who run things round here. As he walks he looks for life in the eyes of those who think they run things. The kind of life he has seen in the eyes of those who don’t have the power. He is never afraid to look into that shadowed inner world, through the windows of every soul. Knowing the mixed motives, understanding the mixed messages. The need to look good on the outside, when the inside is such a mess. He knows, he understands. Humanity is awash with double standards, the bumblers leading the muddlers. The heroes who fall flat on their faces, the villains who bring unexpected grace. The reality of the ability people possess to screw things up. Doing what they don’t want to do and shunning what they know they should do. The regrets, the fears. The memories, sweet and sour. The mishaps. The stresses. The triumphs. The mad moments. The bonfire hearts inside each one of us. The muddled mess we are, glory, mayhem, mercy, courage and folly. The longings of such lives requires a simple, yet complex response. And so here he is.
This week will unravel like an epic, simple and yet endlessly profound. The moon will turn to blood and the cosmic wheels will turn as prostitutes anoint him, feet get washed, prisoners are released, and the dying find themselves heading for new life. And that sound of groaning which he hears constantly, the crying of creation for a new birth… well, he will answer that call. Along with the call of that expectant crowd outside, and the cries of that other rabble. Those who will gather on a Friday to demand death. He has grown up against the stark silhouettes of skeletal crosses. A regular reminder of the cruel power of oppression. Well, he must embrace that too, lift that cup and drink from it. But for now he strolls around this old temple, on its last legs, as he prepares himself, as he makes ready to take its place. Him. The new temple, flesh and blood and bone, smaller, less opulent, yet overflowing with so much more life. Many will no doubt be impressed by this sprawling stony structure, along with other colossal works of architectural art, but many too will be drawn to the ragged sketch of a temple pinned on a hillside, a masterpiece held there by three nails and two bits of wood.