I discovered something about myself a few years ago. I am a rule-breaker.
I don’t like anyone telling me what to do. Of course, I don’t always go against their instruction. However, other times I do, even if it has the potential to get me in trouble.
I find some reassurance in my rebellion, because Jesus was not a rule-keeper either.
We see it most often in his clashes with the leaders of the Jewish law, the Pharisees.
He intimated at his plan for liberation at the beginning of his ministry: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.
But more important, as Jesus broke the rules he also broke barriers so people confined by them could be set free.
Quite a few of these incidents happened in the temple.
The woman caught in adultery, for example. A law-breaker herself and about to be sentenced for it, the leaders dragged her into the temple courtyard to be denounced by Jesus. He let her go, instead.
When Jesus healed the lame and blind, he liberated them from physical and spiritual bondage. The leaders were indignant and more concerned Jesus had broken the Sabbath law. Jesus, however, had released them from darkness. He had enabled them to walk and see the light
These interactions turned the temple from tranquil to tense, as conflict over regulations often does.
It’s not much different today.
If you go to Jerusalem, and to the remaining part of the temple wall, you can sense the tension.
To get to the Western Wall you have to enter through a security checkpoint operated by the military.
I had to put my bag on the belt of the x-ray machine, step through a security gate and pass a guard, just like at the airport.
Once inside, you enter a courtyard. You are free to wander around, although high chain-link fences with coiled barred-wire on top hem you in.
To get to the wall, men are forced to go to the left, and women to the right.
Full access to all areas of the temple mount are not possible. Jews and Christians meet on one side to pray. On the other, the gold dome of the mosque is where Muslims come to pray.
How sad that we separate ourselves.
Yet, Jesus is the perfect barrier breaker. He offers freedom to all people and full access to God.
Temple checkpoints are outdated with Jesus. His death caused the curtain in the temple, that separated us from God, to be torn into two.
We have total freedom to come into the presence of a holy and pure God in any place, at any time, and with no restrictions.
Today, what rules are worth breaking, and what barriers does Jesus need to break in your life to set you free?