Season 1 - Week 4
“If only courage could be bottled”
We're all inspired by it, stop to watch it when we see it, and would be deeply flattered if anyone described us as courageous. If you're anything like me you secretly wonder if the coward inside would beat off courage in the moment when it really matters. And yet following Jesus has always demanded courage, so how can we practically grow in it?
When Jesus walked into the temple courts he encountered one of those 'courage moments'. He drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves (v12). We don't know if Jesus planned this moment, slowly building his confidence to finally say something, or if it was a spontaneous outburst. Either way, it was fuelled by deep conviction...'My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers' (v13b). And here lies a window into the world of courage - the depth of your conviction will determine the level of your courage.
Godly courage doesn't belong to the brave, it belongs to those who have deep conviction.
Perhaps one way to grow in courage is to concentrate on being passionate about something, allowing that passion to shape your convictions. Jesus knew that justice and righteousness were the foundation of God's throne. He reigns where they exist, and that conviction forced a courageous response from Jesus. The same deep conviction enabled Jesus to overcome the pressure of Gethsemane and the painful climb to Golgotha.
The table turning, though full of action and adventure, was probably not the most courageous moment in our passage. Jesus' courage wasn't only manifest in stopping something, it was profoundly expressed and fulfilled in starting something. Think of the most courageous people history has to offer; they are all defined not only by something they spoke out about, but by the new order they instigated. Jesus stuck around in the temple courts as the blind and the lame were healed (v14). He ushered in the Kingdom and did 'wonderful things' even as the chief priests and teachers became indignant (v15). It's easier to tear down than build anew. Offering a tangible view of a brighter future takes real courage, especially when power around you opposes.
It had become normal for shopping centres to open in the temple, and increasingly unusual to ever see God's miraculous hand at work. Jesus flipped that all on its head. What are the norms in our society that no one is challenging? Young people are facing unprecedented pressure to conform, with fewer models of what it might look like to make a Godly stand. Is the church becoming so accepting of prevailing culture that we're losing our ability to act with conviction on anything that really matters?
The pluralist approach that bows to the measure of 'whatever makes YOU happy' is laying siege to conviction that anything is absolutely true anymore. And if anything goes, how can we stand with conviction for anything that might contradict culture?
We can't bottle courage, but if we cultivate conviction and build up as well as tear down, we might just see a bit more of it knocking around. Begin by trusting the table turning Jesus is who the children in the temple courts said he was (v15), then ask him if there are any tables that need turning today.
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.
Have you ever experienced a courage moment where the need to act was stronger than any fears or inhibitions? Or perhaps you've seen it happen to someone else?
What did that moment feel like? Can you remember the emotions of the situation? What made you so determined?
Go back and read Pete's last sentence. Do you trust the table turning Jesus? Would you have been one of those children singing praises if you'd been there? Read the bible passage again focussing on Jesus and his courage to act.
What are the tables that need to be turned in your life or the world around you? Ask God to show you what they are and give you courage to tip them over.