Jesus is in the City

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Matthew 21:10-11
a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty.

I have read the account of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week for almost 20 years and this was the first time that I noticed that word: Turmoil.

Matthew says, after Jesus came into the city, fulfilling the prophecies foretold in Isaiah and Jeremiah, that the city was in turmoil.

My Dad told me a story about an experience he had when he was a kid. He and his neighborhood friends would play in the back allies of their neighborhood. They would play baseball, basketball, kick ball, and run the neighborhood with freedom and curiosity. One day, the boys were playing along a back fence that was filled with tall grass and weeds, the boys came along a suspicious looking piece of nature and instead of leaving it alone, they, like most boys, decided to poke at it, take it down and hit it. That suspicious looking piece of nature was a beehive. The bees were not happy to have their beehive dismantled so they took off toward the boys, and the boys ran, screaming down the ally, and into their homes, where the bees chased them into there house, where there happened to be company, and tea and cake, and card game, and women jumped on the chairs and screeched as they shook their dresses and the boys dove under the tables trying to escape the enraged bees.

Turmoil. " A state of great disturbance, confusion or uncertainty."

I was speaking to a parishioner the other day about church and worship and what people need and why they are coming to church, or should be, and she remarked that people are really scared. She did not specify what people are scared of, only that they are scared. Maybe what they are afraid of is obvious and goes without saying, or maybe naming the fear is important.

Here are some the fears I have heard expressed in the past three months in meetings, or over a meal, or in an email, or in conversations.
  1. There is going to a Third World War, a nuclear war, or another civil war.
  2. The economy is going to get so bad that the United States will become a third world country.
  3. The National Parks, the air, the water, the earth, natural resources, and animals are in great peril.
  4. Our education system is on the edge of collapse.
  5. Our health care system is in ruins.
  6. Our freedoms are being taken away. Our rights are being denied.
  7. "They" are going to take over.
  8. What fears have you heard?
When people are afraid, they only see their fear and they really can't see much else. Their fear defines them. Instead of acknowledging that our brothers and sisters, our family members, our neighbors are afraid, if we do not share their fear, instead of finding empathy we pass judgment. I remember people were afraid the world would come to an end in the year 2000. Those of us who did not share that fear thought they were a little crazy.

Is turmoil the same as fear? Or is it more like anxiety? Were the people in the Gospel of Matthew more afraid or anxious? Maybe both. Either way, they knew that something was going to happen and that after whatever it was, everything would be different. The NIV says, that the people were stirred, which sounds less intense than turmoil doesn't it?

When the Prince of Peace arrived in Jerusalem, there was turmoil in the city. There was chaos. The city felt like a provoked beehive.

I wonder, is that the state we are in? Are we in turmoil? Are we stirred up? Do we feel disturbed, confused and uncertain?

Maybe Jesus is in the city. Maybe Jesus has kicked the beehive of humanity and stirred us up. Maybe there is a disturbance, a greater sense of uncertainty, and maybe there should be - because Jesus is over turning the money changers in the temple. He is speaking truth to power. He is advocating for the poor. He is praying in the garden. He is sweating drops of blood. He is breaking bread. He is pouring the cup. He is washing feet. He is suffering. He is forgiving. He is dying.

Turmoil reminds us that Jesus is in the city.

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