If we are to come into our full inheritance of authority on earth as it is in heaven, it is also essential that we perceive that Jesus is the model of each of these character traits. It is Jesus to whom we are joined in the true marriage covenant, and it is He who gives full expression to each of the Beatitudes. Therefore, to embrace the Beatitudes as our lifestyle is to cooperate with the process of conformity to His image, which is our destiny.
It is a compelling thing to consider that in the person of Jesus, God gave full expression of His desires for mankind through this one true Man. As a man full of the Holy Spirit, Jesus knew the heart of His Father, and lived His life in complete agreement with His Father’s will. This truth helps us to comprehend one of the more startling events in Jesus’ life, recorded for us in the Gospel of John:
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (John 2:13-17, NKJV)
Jesus came into Jerusalem filled with understanding from His Father gained in the place of intimate communion and prayer. He was fully aligned with the Father’s character, and therefore saw all things from the Father’s perspective. He knew what the Father had in mind when He called the nation of Israel into existence. He knew that the true identity of this people could only be realized in conformity to the Father’s vision for them. Therefore, Jesus had chosen His disciples based on the Father’s leading, seeing in them the destiny of apostolic authority even while they were immature and carnal. Jesus understood that the Temple was intended to be a prophetic window into God’s desire to have a dwelling place with His people. It was to be a place of communion and intimacy, a place of full access to all who would come, a place of mercy and grace where people would be invited into the empowering presence of God.
The spiritual leaders of the day, however, had turned the Temple into a religious bastion, a stronghold of legalism and oppression that served more to separate the people from God than to open the way to Him. The presence of the money-changers in the courtyard revealed a pollution at the core of the system. When Jesus encountered the situation He was blasted with the discrepancy between what was in His Father’s heart and what was being expressed by those who were set in place to reveal the Father to the people. The Temple had been so overrun with empty ritual that God had long before withdrawn His presence from it.
The text in John 2 says that Jesus was consumed by zeal for His Father’s house. In other words, a deep passion burned in Jesus’ heart for God’s people to realize their destiny as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God. He yearned to see intimacy between His Father and His people, to see the power of God released upon the nation in the way His Father had intended from the beginning. Therefore, when Jesus encountered a religious system that produced the very opposite thing, He was enraged. He experienced what can truly be called “righteous indignation,” where His anger was rooted in His passion to see everything conformed to His Father’s image.
In our day, most religious systems find themselves on the other side of the spectrum. Rather than being overly concerned with external behavior at the expense of heart reality, the religious systems of our day shy away from any call to righteousness. We prefer to speak about a sappy version of love that makes no demands, that issues no call to radical living, and leaves us in our unrighteous mess. The Christian church today is filled with all sorts of compromise, greed, broken marriages, and open resistance to the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures. For fear of scaring people away from the institution, we have dumbed down the Gospel to the point of impotence, and then we wonder why twenty-four million believers have left the institutional church to seek an encounter with God that will actually bring change to their lives.
But impotence is not only the scourge of the mainstream, seeker-oriented institution. The churches that claim the power of God are just as devoid of anything beyond bells, whistles, and the occasional testimony. Once again I want to quote Bob Sorge:
We live in an hour where there is a huge gap between the Gospel we preach and the level of our experience in the Kingdom. We preach a Gospel of power, of healing, of miracles, of signs and wonders, of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ; but what we actually experience falls woefully short of the fullness we proclaim. The demonized come to our meetings and leave with their demons; the handicapped come in their wheelchairs and leave in their wheelchairs; they come to the meeting blind and leave blind; they come deaf and leave deaf. The lack of power in the church, at least in America, has us living under a great shroud of reproach.
This caricature of New Testament Christianity is appalling to Jesus in our day even as it was during His time on earth. He longs to come and encounter His people in power, to bring cleansing and purity, and to release the authority of His Kingdom to His people in unprecedented ways. When Jesus cleansed the Temple in the event recorded in Matthew 21, the result of the cleansing was that “the blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them.” Oh, how we need a breakthrough of the righteousness of Jesus in His Church today!