Last week I spent several days looking for my sunglasses. I was convinced I had come in from church, taken them off, and dropped them on the table next to my keys. But they weren’t there. I turned the house upside down looking for them and checked the church lost-and-found. No luck. I had finally decided I was going to have to replace them when they turned up in the one place I hadn’t looked: the passenger-side floor of my car. They had fallen into a crevice between the door and the car seat. I was so convinced the glasses were in the house that I never checked the car. My preconception of where they should be blinded me to the place they actually were.
Sometimes we do the same thing with Jesus. One of the saddest moments in the Gospel of Mark happens right after the triumphal entry. Mark describes how Jesus was escorted into Jerusalem by a cheering throng. The crowd joyfully proclaimed Jesus as the one who comes in the name of the Lord and lined the road with palm branches and coats so the hooves of Jesus’ donkey wouldn’t touch the ground. As you read Mark, it seems that Jesus is finally getting the recognition he deserves. But the story ends anticlimactically. Jesus entered the temple, looked around, and left for Bethany with the disciples (Mark 11:11).
Mark’s first readers would have recognized the triumphal entry as a victory procession. When the rightful king entered the city after a victorious campaign, he would enter the city with a popular escort. But the climax would come as the king rode into the center of the city and was proclaimed as king. Jesus, the rightful king, had entered the temple. But the people who should have recognized him first treated him with indifference. The priests and Jewish leaders should have been looking for the Messiah. Of all people, they should have recognized who Jesus was and welcomed him. But they didn’t. Some were looking for a different sort of messiah–one who would lead Israel to military might and throw off the yoke of Rome. Others were threatened by Jesus’ new way of doing things. The kingdom of God Jesus talked about didn’t have room for those who gained power by keeping the people under the thumb of the law. And so they either ignored Jesus or sought to destroy him. Instead of crowning Jesus king, they crucified him.
And I wonder: am I ever so locked into my own ideas of who God should be and what God should do that I miss the Savior who is right there in front of me? Would I recognize Jesus? Or would I carry on with my own routine, so intent on serving God that I am indifferent to my true King? That’s a dangerous place to be, but I fear I’m guilty of it more often than I’d like to think. So this Easter, I’m practicing the art of noisy contemplation. I’m trying to stop in the midst of my activity and ask God questions. What are you doing right now? How are you loving this person? Who do you want to be to me in this situation? How can I best honor you in this moment? When we look for God, we find him–and sometimes he shows up in surprising places.
How do you train yourself to be attentive to God’s activity and presence?
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