Jesus Serves: Temple, Template, and Table

Texts: Mark 10:41-45; 11:15-18; 12:28-34; 14:22-25

Days 43-46 in Around the Bible in Eighty Days.

As Jesus traveled to Jerusalem in order to suffer and die, he frames this journey as one of service. The mission of Jesus is to serve others, and that is why he became a “slave of all.” The “Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 identifies a core value: the mission is for others, and it requires the gift of his own life. The whole mission of Jesus is shaped by his intent to serve others, and he gives his life for the sake of the world.

Days 44-46 highlight how this service plays out, at least in part, in the last week of Jesus’s life. After Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem where he is hailed as the coming king (Messiah) by the crowds, he enacts his role as Messiah in three distinct ways in texts appointed for this session.

First, Jesus comes to Jerusalem in judgment; he serves judgment. Out of a zeal for God’s house which is designed for prayer, he engaged in prophetic symbolism by turning over tables. Overturning a few tables would not stop the economic system in place at the temple, but it did testify to God’s judgment upon the temple authorities and their practices. We might say Jesus’s symbolic action was a promissory note on the future of the temple; it would be destroyed (Mark 13). They had made the temple a hiding place for their own interests, like a den of robbers, instead of a place of prayer for all nations.

Second, Jesus serves the teachers of Israel. At times, he affirms and at other times condemns the ethics and practices of Israel’s temple life. Jesus complimented one scribe who affirmed that the primary ethic is to love God and love neighbor. These two commandments, according to the scribe, are more important than the temple’s whole sacrificial system.  The love of God and neighbor are the template ethic for the kingdom of God. It is the pattern of life for in God’s kingdom.

Third, at table, Jesus served his disciples his own body and blood. Just as he told them that he would serve many by giving his life as a ransom, at the table Jesus gives his body and blood to us for our own salvation, sustenance, and communal life. We sit at the table as servants who are served by the host of the table. This, too, is the pattern of our life in the kingdom of God.

Service for the sake of others is the hallmark of the kingdom of God because it is how the Messiah saves and rules his people.

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