Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Dig: Week 2 (Zion & His Fathers House)

Welcome to Week 2 of our Lenten Dig where we will be reading and discussing the book What Jesus Saw from the Cross. Feel free to join the discussion at any time. Please note, all items I've put in quotations below are excepts directly from the book.



Chapter 2, Zion, starts out having the same sort of affect on me that Chapter 1 had; I kept finding myself thinking, wow, that is not how I pictured it.

Mount Zion, the City of David...I always pictured....what's the word I'm looking for, grandeur? Surely not "five acres of land covered by a heap of huts that were indistinguishable from the slopes on which they were erected, a number of grey hovels on grey earth, an anthill without the glory of a meadow." But I love how the author follows this up with "the reader need not be surprised or disappointed" and continues to describe life in those days; a life that really, in almost all aspects, is so entirely different than the life I know today. He goes on to say "greatness is not measured only by dimensions" and gives some examples of some of the worlds greatest places/books/paintings that take up very little space. In reading these words I immediately thought of the Mona Lisa. I remember seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time and being so taken aback by how small of a painting it was. The Mona Lisa, I mean, everyone knows that that is, right?  In my mind it was so well known that it had to be grand. Have you ever had an experience like that, where the reality of what you saw was so off-base from the picture you had in your mind simply by size alone?

In some ways it makes sense though, that Zion would be smaller than expected, I mean look at Israel in general, the author describes it perfectly "the paradoxical history of a tiny people that radiates power over the entire human race." So many great things took place in this small land.  That brings me some comfort - sometimes it's hard to imagine the Lord having the time (for lack of better word) to worry about small little ol' me when there are so many bigger, more pressing issues in the world but this reminds me that size is not a determining factor for Him.

The author notes that Zion "is not only the place of preparation; it is also the place of prophecy." He goes on to quote some passages from the Bible in which prophets, psalmists, etc. foretell what is to happen here. But it is the last line of this chapter that about brings me to my knees:

"That which the joyous Psalmist announces in exultation, Christ fulfills in pain." 

Em, you talked in our last discussion about how horribly we behave when we are in pain (I am guilty of the same!) - I acted horribly this past weekend because of mental anguish, I wasn't even in physical pain and yet I couldn't hold it together.  Jesus knew was was to come, He knew the pain He was going to endure and yet He didn't run and He didn't lash out at his disciples in those last days.  He continued to love and when the time came He quite literally "took up His cross" and bore it all.....for us.  

This past Sunday I sat in the pews and listed to Father's homily and he said those very words: "Take up your cross and follow me." I missed pretty much everything after that because I realized I was doing the very opposite of "taking up my cross" I was standing around the cross, complaining, whining, yelling, doing just about everything I could to avoid picking it up. Father's closing line (which I did happen to catch) was this: "Anything, anything is possible with God." So with a renewed commitment I'm trying hard this week to pick it up, trust, and follow.

His Father's House

Wow, this is already getting pretty long so I'll try to keep this discussion on the shorter side...

I really appreciated this chapter for the history of the temple; the building and the destruction, a cycle that was on repeat.  At the time of the crucifixion the author uses the words "marvelous" and "dazzling" and says that "at the sight of it, the heart of an Israelite pilgrim glows with pride." It was a bustling place with large crowds and great feasts, it's noisy and busy....

It was after reading this that it first hit me....destruction and rebuilding, ups and downs, noisy and busy yet marvelous and, the temple sounds like a metaphor for my life.  Maybe for all our lives...maybe for all of humanity. 


Previous Discussions:

Week 1

Next up: Wednesday, March 26th: Chapters 4 & 5 (The Upper Room & The Mount of Olives)

1 comment:

Jill said...

My apologies for the late response, but I just got to finish reading them tonight, so wanted to acknowledge.

I had the same reaction you did when the author described the size of Mount Zion, the City of David. I, too pictured it to be large and full of life. If I take a step back and think about it though, it does make sense. When you think about who Jesus preached to – He wasn’t going after heards of wealthy people. He is most often described interacting with the poor, the sick, the excluded people. So the imagery the author described makes sense. I really liked your analogy of the Mona Lisa because I thought the exact same thing when I saw the Mona Lisa – I was expecting it to be HUGE and it ended up being such a small painting that we almost didn’t see it in the museum!

I did find it interesting when the author talked about how people didn’t often “live” in their homes. That weather/safety permitting, they spent most of their time outdoors – even to sleep. That’s an unusual concept to most of us. Being outdoors is more of an activity than where you spend your life. The author described the home as a refuge, whereas it’s kind of the opposite to us – we go outside to “escape” the home. I suppose that especially speaks to me because I work out of my home, so I am in the home 99% of the time!

I was also taken by the comment that Zion “is not only a place of preparation; it is also the place of prophecy.” I would’ve never expected a “place” so small to be such an inspiration to so many prophets, but it was very interesting reading the many passages included that were inspired there.

In “His Father’s House,” I did like your comment about the “destruction and rebuilding of the Temple…ups and downs, noisy and busy yet marvelous and dazzling.” I did not catch that when I read it, but certainly an interesting metaphor. I agree that it may be for all humanity.

One part that really stuck out to me was when he described that the shadow of the cross where Jesus was crucified would’ve overshadowed the Temple – kind of chilling thought, yet oddly fitting that Jesus’ crucifixion would foreshadow (overshadow) changes to come in “His Father’s House.”

Thanks for posting your thoughts!