I was reading in Matthew 21 this morning, about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem right before his crucifixion. He is in the temple healing people--restoring health and wholeness, performing miracle after miracle of physical restoration. Imagine what the healed and their families must have felt: Relief, euphoria, joy, happiness, disbelief. . . Imagine what it might feel like to, for the first time, walk independently (or at all), hear a loved one's voice, see your child's face, be free from pain. Participating in such celebration would be overwhelmingly joyful and happy and good. Unless you were a Pharisee:
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (Matthew 21: 14-16)C'mon. They are in the middle of people being made whole and they are indignant? Why? Probably for a lot of reasons. Maybe they were really upset that the children were calling Jesus the Son of David (the Messiah) when they weren't sure He actually was. However, Jesus was fulfilling signs that the priests should have recognized (Isaiah 35:5-6, Isaiah 42:7). Most of them, I bet, though, were upset for much less noble reasons. Jesus was disturbing the order of the temple. He was daring to put himself forward and mess up the order and flow of temple business. He was stealing their limelight. He wasn't playing by the rules and following the protocol. All they could see was that Jesus was not acting according to their plan. So they reacted with indignation.
I'm not a stranger to indignation, which exhibits itself in this decade as attitude. I get attitude when things are not going according to my plan, not happening in the way I envisioned, or are making me uncomfortable. Would I miss the joy in a room of healing because I was that upset about my plan? I hope not, but I might. In a similar situation, after seeing Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, the Pharisees (for sure the REAL Pharisees in this passage) criticize Jesus to His disciples, and Jesus responds by telling them that they need to learn what it means that He desires mercy and not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13).
I need to learn what that means. I do not want to find myself in a room where Jesus is at work and have my prevailing emotion be indignation. I want it to be awe, or joy, or gratitude. Thank God for the gospel's power in my life, which transforms my Pharisee's heart into a merciful and grace-filled one. I just wish it would happen a little bit faster.