I can’t say why I’ve been coming here, every year for most of my life. I want to honor God and worship the Almighty One, but especially within Rome’s grip, this annual journey seems futile. Still, something in me drives me to come.
Every year I scrimp and save to be here for the Passover. Every year I think it is going to be special. And every year by the time I get here, I am so worn and weary from trepidation, travel, the crowds of people, all clamoring to get on with it, the whole point seems to get lost. And yet I come.
When I arrived this morning, later than I intended, people seemed somehow livelier than ever before. I noticed palm leaves laying everywhere. I wondered if another dignitary had arrived, but looking around as I walked, I saw nothing special.
It took longer than usual to get to the temple. Once I reached the outer court that old feeling crept in again. I don’t like admitting it, but I feel conflicted, kind of resentful about the vendors lining the walls. I get that they offer a convenience for travelers who didn’t bring offerings. Ya gotta make a living somehow. Right? Still, so many times I’ve seen some sell inferior animals. I’m not gonna lie, I have wondered how they justify that. But it’s none of my business.
After a while, I was glad to have found a space in the shade to rest a moment. Casually watching people passing through the gate, suddenly there was this guy. I don’t understand why I noticed him coming from yards away. Though he seemed to be with a group, he distinctly stood out. Steady, serene, he looked like a man with a purpose. He didn’t look particularly special, and yet I couldn’t stop watching him.
I watched his entire being seem to darken as he took in the court, his face visibly changed; troubled. For some reason my thoughts raced about what he might be thinking. Why? What is it about him? I don’t know him.
Though I saw the hawkers calling to him, I couldn’t look away from him. All of a sudden it seemed the whole court blew up. The guy went to a table, took a hold of one end and flipped it over! People jumped and scurried as he went on flipping the tables over, birds, animals and coins scattered everywhere. Who is this guy?!
I wanted to run from the certain trouble, but I couldn’t move. Over the noise, confusion and excitement, I heard his every word from across the court. He spoke loudly without raising his voice; intense words about his father, a house of prayer, a den of thieves. What the…?
Then I noticed the priests across the court had stepped back, talking into one another’s ears. They looked shocked, confused and then outraged. The moment I looked away the guy was gone from sight. I saw an opening in the crowd and dodged out.
It’s been hours since the temple upset. Quiet now, everyone around me sleeps, but I can’t stop thinking about that guy. As if something deep within me wants to find him, talk to him, listen to him – and warn him about the priests. This is so strange. It’s none of my business.
It’s late. I am tired but I can’t rest. God, help me understand!
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