“And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him.” (Luke 21:37-38)
Actions Louder that Words
Like an open window revealing an extraordinary sight, these verses reveal the heart of our Lord and his unparalleled character. In the final days before his death, with the cross in full view, he made the defining choice to teach, to speak truth, to open his heart wide and share about his kingdom with those who came close. What must that have been like, the magnificent temple as schoolroom, the teacher none other than the Son of God himself?
Of course, this lack of self-focus was consistent with the Savior. He projected selflessness with actions far louder than his words. The one with every right to exert his authority and be entitled, who could have spent his last days on earth absorbed by his impending crucifixion, instead challenged his disciples to imitate him and integrate servant leadership into their actions. “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:26-27). He chose to be among us, to serve us and to love us, in order to make us more like him.
Do we yearn this deeply for his instructions that we make listening to him an absolute priority each day?
The leader doesn’t naturally fill the subservient role. The one in charge usually makes demands, has the ability to call the shots, projects self-centeredness as a prerogative. Not Jesus. With the most excruciating circumstances imminent, he rose early, made his way to the temple, taught all day, and slipped away each night to sleep beneath olive trees on the hillside. He returned in the morning to repeat the same rigorous schedule in order to show us what love does, how love acts, no matter what.
Hungry for Truth
With this scene of Christ before us, perhaps we might be more eager to find occasions to ensure we spend time alone with him. The temple crowds had gathered to listen, not to ask or beg or plead for anything. He showed up faithfully every morning, and they turned up to receive. Are we this willing to place our jam-packed agendas on temporary hold? Do we yearn this deeply for his instructions that we make listening to him an absolute priority each day?
Imagine if he found us longing for him to teach us, ready to receive what he has to give, so hungry for his truth that nothing kept us away. He is still among us as one who serves, and we get to hear what he has to say again, and again, and again.
Father, give us that deep hunger for your Word and remind us all throughout this day that you are waiting to teach us all we need to know. Keep us from far less worthy pursuits that steal away our time alone with you.
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell