Last year Coram Deo sent a team of people to Austin, Texas, to plant Providence Church. Jeff Lark is an Austin resident and longtime Campus Crusade staff member who is part of the launch team for Providence. This week, Jeff is writing daily reflections on the final week of Jesus’ life. With his permission, I’m posting them here as well.
Reflection #2: Walking to the Cross – Mark 11:20-13:37
At the core of each of us, as Calvin would say, is a factory that never tires of producing idols of every kind – gods of this world that promise life, but never ultimately deliver. At the center of this factory, one idol stands head and shoulders above the others. On one hand, it is the most beautiful, ornate, elaborate, and impressive figure of all. But, on the other hand, it is so much a part of our idol factory that it gets lost in its ordinariness. In fact, we forget it’s there until it is challenged.
As Jesus enters into the Temple on Tuesday, if there was one thing that was true, it was the fact that the religious leaders of the day were having their idol of authority challenged. In fact, their authority was so acutely challenged that they sought to challenge the authority of Jesus – “By what authority are you doing these things…” (Mark 11:28). And so, in order to regain authority, the questions are fired at Jesus – “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” (Mark 12:14). “In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be?”(Mark 12:23). “Which is the most important commandment of all?” (Mark 12:28) – questions meant to “test”, “entangle”, and ultimately to destroy the one who challenged to destroy their idol of authority.
Would I not have been in the same religious crowd, attacking the one who was dead set on attacking the idols of my heart? If I had given my life to climb the ladder of religious elitism and gained the reputation, acclaim, prestige, honor, and authority of a Pharisee, believe me, I would have been angry – angry at this uneducated peasant from Nazareth. He didn’t climb the ladders that I climbed. He was poor. He had a ragamuffin band of followers. But, what would have made me most angry was that he challenged to undo everything that I had been spending my life building – my reputation, honor, prestige, control and authority.
And so, I am left with two options. One, I hate the one who challenges my most sacred idols. I can deny him the ultimate authority, and therefore leave my authority intact.
Or, in brokenness, I concede. I bow in humility, laying my most sacred idol at the cross, allowing it to be crushed by the one who gave up his authority and “became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Thank God that the cross is only 3 days away. My idol that seeks to fight for ultimate and sovereign authority has to be forgiven and crushed.
Questions for reflection:
- Iain Duguid says, “The pain of an unsatisfied idolatry often serves as the messenger of God to reveal the hidden recesses of our hearts to us. As long as we get what we want and our idol is smiling upon us, it is easy for us to be oblivious to the power our idol has gained over us.” In light of this quote, what “unsatisfied” idols has God been uncovering in your heart?
- How has authority been an idol in your life? And, how has it kept you from God?
- Just like the Pharisees, we oftentimes unconsciously view God as a useful means to gaining what is most important to us in this life. In what way has God not been your highest goal? How have you been using him to feed your idols of recognition, praise, honor, success, comfort, etc…?