In Genesis 1 we are told that we are made in the image of God. This is not a physical manifestation, but one of nature. We like Him are creative, we have a moral aspect, we are to oversee the Earth. “Male and female,” were this made God-like.
We can see as well in Genesis 3:8, that Adam and Eve walked in companionship and relationship with God.
Yet Eve was tempted. The serpent challenged her to eat from the tree, and she at first objected. She noted that it was forbidden.
But, Genesis 3: 6 tells us, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
Satan tempted her with the idea that if she ate from the tree she would be more God-like – gaining wisdom. Eve failed to see she was already in God’s image. She was already in relationship. She looked at the situation with several filters. The practical filter the need for food, the aesthetic filter of its beauty, but most of all it would “improve” her.
What she actually got was a relationship that was broken. Sin and corruption entered the world.
But God is a compassionate God, He opened up a path of return.
Hebrews 1 tells us that Jesus is above the angels, and His people are to be served by them as well: “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation (vs 14).
Hebrews 2 goes on to say, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet (vs 2: 6-8).”
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them (us). And why?
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8: 29). We are once again in relationship, but even more so, we are again in the image of God.
But even with all this on offer, so many of us (like Eve) start putting filters or blinders before us. Lets look at what happened in Mark 11. On Sunday:
They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve (vs. 4-11).
From a earthly point of view “Nothing happened.” Many people, the Zeolots in particular were disappointed. They wanted an earthly king, someone to save them from the Romans. But Jesus just departs. They didn’t get what they wanted. How many fell away, because they had a filter of political power on their agenda?
On Monday, Jesus returns,
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city (vs 15 -19).
Jesus is acting in a righteous manner. He is seeking to assure the purity of the outer court. But rather than see their own error, they become angry. Their own filter of self interest and profit leads Priests, Levites, and merchants fall away.
They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things (vs 27 – 33).”
The Temple authorities and High Priest challenge Him. They seem to be more interested on “whose turf” it is, than on the Words of God being spoken. This is an interesting follow up to what happened on one of Jesus’ previous visits in John 7. Here again the leaders want to silence Him. They send the guards to arrest Him. But,
Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”“No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied (vs. 45 – 46).
The authorities use the filter of privilege, and power. They thus miss the truth.
Later that day or on Wednesday (the scripture is unclear), there are further confrontations. The first is about paying the Imperial tax to Caesar. The Pharisees and Herodians attempt to apply the filter of legalism to silence Jesus. They fail miserably, and are made to look foolish.
So far Zealots, Merchants, Levites, Priests, Pharisees, and Herodians have cut themselves off from Christ. Their filtered views of God and righteousness have failed them.
This is next mirrored by the Sadducees. The use their theological dogmatism as a filter. They challenge Jesus on the nature of heaven and of an afterlife. The result of their narrow theological view alienates them from the truth as well.
Sadly even on Thursday Judas, driven by the filter of greed betrays Jesus. Thirty pieces of silver are more meaningful than his relationship with God, or his own conforming to the image of Christ.
Even sadder is Friday morning. Peter, his relationship filtered by fear denies he even knows Jesus.
If we look closely we can see that when Jesus spoke uncomfortable truths, people fell away. The crowds that had praised Him Sunday by Friday were only a handful. Even most of the Twelve were absent from the cross.
It is a bit like the Parable of Sower. The Word of God fell on hard, stony. or weedy ground. Those filters prevented the seed to grow, for true conformity to the image of Christ to manifest itself. And in so doing relationship was lost.
So what are our personal uncomfortable truths? Is our prayer life what it should be? Is our service dedicated? Do we fall into the wealth and fame trap? Are we conformed to keeping up with Kardashians rather than being conformed to the image of Christ?
Where are our filters? Shouldn’t seek the fresh air of the Gospel over any type of filtered air?
Based on my sermon of 1 Sept 19.