Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
According to the Scriptures, God made a covenant with Abram, and there were two parts to it. Here is the way the passage reads in The Message: I’ll make you a great nation and bless you. I’ll make you famous; you’ll be a blessing. I’ll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I’ll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you.
I call this the “Abrahamic two-step.” Step 1: God will bless the people who are faithful to Him. Step 2: God will be a blessing to all nations of the world through His people. In the case of the Jewish people, God was going to bless Israel as a nation as long as they were faithful to Him, specifically faithful in being a blessing to the nations of the world!
God even changed Abram, meaning “noble father,” to Abraham, which means “the father of many nations.” God wanted to bless the whole world through Abraham. God had a bigger vision for Abraham. God was looking for the salvation of the whole world through Abraham. Abraham was to be not only the physical father, but also the spiritual father of many nations.
Jesus’ mission was to break up the Jewish holy huddle that was stuck in Step 1. So Jesus’ encounters with people from the nations of the world were examples of how Step 2 was to be carried out-to be a blessing to the world! The Jewish holy huddle that Jesus found when he came was in a narrow-minded, rigid, inflexible, dogmatic state of mind. With their blinders on, they were unable to see the big picture of what God was up to. They had ears to hear but couldn’t hear. They had eyes to see but couldn’t see. And Jesus’ early followers had a difficult time opening their eyes and ears as well!
Jesus was on a mission of blessing toward the nations of the world. A powerful example is the time when Jesus became angry with businessmen and threw them out of the Temple. Through the prophet Isaiah, God directed that the Temple was to be a “house of prayer for all nations.”The Temple represented the very presence of God dwelling with His people. Therefore, all people from every nation were to have access to Him there. This is why the Jews were directed to have a special place for non-Jews to come to the Temple to worship.
It seems Step 2 of the Abrahamic two-step wasn’t a priority to the Temple authorities in the first century nor to the Jewish people in general. The holy huddle desired to be kept pure from any contamination. Consequently, they cleared out the Court of the Nations-the place set aside for the non-Jews to worship-and allowed the money changers and vendors to use this “unused” space for business. Why not? Being a blessing to the nations of the world was not a priority of the huddle! Nothing has changed today. We tend to keep Jesus exclusively for ourselves and shut out the nations of the world. Jesus is THE WAY for every culture of the world!