Valuing depth and
He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.
What do we value? Today’s scriptures confront us with that question and ask us to consider the value of our salvation in light of everything else.
Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, places three things of value on the table: wisdom (think learning, knowledge, and education), signs (think miracles, wonders that cannot be explained), and Christ crucified (our salvation). He is asking us to figure out what is most important, not in philosophical or conceptual terms – but in reality. What would we give our lives and our all for? And, if we were to give our lives for that thing, which of them would carry us beyond the here and now and into an eternity of bliss? These questions assist in defining our commitment as Christians and the depth of our faith by drawing value comparisons.
Knowledge or wisdom will surely not give us eternal life. They are the most ephemeral of things. When we die, all our knowledge and wisdom is gone. We could have a wall full of degrees, but none would be valuable enough to act as a passport into heaven.
Signs and wonders might get us a little closer. At least we would be acknowledging a power beyond ourselves. But, that alone will not get us to heaven. In fact, Jesus saw right through people who would only follow Him while He entertained them with signs and wonders. He also knew that His people had a history of experiencing all of His Father’s signs and wonders, and still wandered away in faithlessness. No, signs and wonders do not hold enough value.
If we set those two things aside as not valuable enough, we are left Jesus crucified. We know that faith in Him is entry into heaven. He is the only assurance we have. So, He should be at the top of our value list. In fact, all our values should flow from His being at the top of our list.
Jesus demonstrates this during His visit to Jerusalem. His Father was His sole value. Love for His Father, and His Father’s will, consumed Him. It was never about the building, the temple, it was about His value choice.
Jesus saw that the people of Israel had their values all wrong. They were focused on paying for form over substance. He is asking them to re-define their commitment and the depth of their faith in his Father. Is it about a building, a place, or setting values correctly? He asks us the same question each day. Lent is about our value choices, and what’s on our list.