Jesus’ Cleansing of the Temple: Where Wrath and Mercy Meet

Part of my PhD work has been in the Major Prophets and Luke-Acts. In revising I came across something mind-blowingly cool in Jesus’ cleansing of the temple in Luke 19:45-46.

As he drives out the traders, he combines quotations from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. To anyone familiar with those texts we’d have to say, on the face of it, those two texts don’t belong together.

Isaiah 56:1-8 speaks to a day of restoration, when foreigners will be welcomed into God’s temple and given an enduring name. They will be brought to God’s holy mountain, and there will be great joy as God’s house is called a ‘house of prayer for all nations.’ It speaks of a great joyous restorative in-gathering.

Jeremiah 7 on the other hand is a word of judgement. The people are called to reform their ways, to put away their oppression, and to stop basing their security on the fact the temple exists. God’s anger and wrath will be poured out because of the people’s idolatry and injustice. This is a judgement text.

So, back to Luke 19:45-46, we find Jesus announcing that the temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations, but instead it stands as a den of robbers. Jesus’ triumphal entry brings together a word of salvation and a word of judgement in the same breath. As we anticipate where this story is heading we may ask the question, ‘how will Jesus bring salvation through judgement? How can wrath and mercy meet?’ And for those of us who know where the story is headed we know that the cross will provide the answer to this apparent riddle.

Cool, no!?

Notes from Andrew Heard on the Importance of Clarity in Leadership


I was fortunate enough to be at a conference last week listening to Andrew Heard on leadership. He has loads of great practical wisdom and insights, and I thought I’d share some rough notes from his first session, in the hope they may be of some benefit to someone somewhere. Here are his seven areas in which clarity is important for good leadership:

  1. Be clear on our role as heralds. First and foremost we are heralds of a message of good news. Never let that become secondary.
  2. Be clear on the priority of ministering for response. Numbers matter. Metrics matter (see early chapters of Acts). Numbers represent people, and people’s lives and eternities matter enormously. It’s not ungodly or unfaithful to think numbers, because numbers represent souls.
  3. Be clear on our role in growth. We’re not hyper-Calvinists. Our inputs do correlate to outputs. In Acts 13:48 we’re told, ‘all who were appointed for eternal life believed.’ In Acts 14:1 we’re told that Paul and Barnabas ‘spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.’ Both-and not either-or. We need to take much more seriously our part in the results (or lack of) we’re seeing. Hiding behind God’s sovereignty and just ‘being faithful’ isn’t actually being faithful.
  4. Be clear on our role as pastors. Pastors aren’t primarily chaplains. The end of Psalm 77 and Psalm 78 tell us that Moses and David were shepherds of the people. Therefore shepherding isn’t just about the one-to-one. It’s also about large scale organising.
  5. Be clear on what the church is. It’s both organism (Acts 2) and organisation (Acts 6). To provide well for sheep requires a fair degree of organising, management, and leadership. Don’t neglect this aspect.
  6. Be clear on discipleship. This isn’t just for gifted Bible-teachers. Everything we do in church should be helping people learn, grow, and develop more and more into the likeness of Christ. The whole church should be a disciple-making ecosystem. It shouldn’t be seen as the preserve of those who are good at intensive one-to-one work.
  7. Be clear on outcomes. Most of think about the inputs – the things we want to do. We need to be much clearer on outcomes – why are we doing these things? What are we aiming for? How do we get there? Don’t fire an arrow and paint the target afterwards!

I appreciate we may not all agree with everything here, and may want to add nuance to this or that, but I find Andrew Heard immensely stimulating, and I think in the main I agree with his basic theses. If you get chance to check out some of his stuff online its well worth your time.

Good Advice For Younger Leaders

bird warren

I recently finished reading How to Break Growth Barriers by Carl George and Warren Bird. There’s lots of helpful material in the book, and I certainly recommend it. There was one particular section I found especially helpful on how to care for different types of folks in your church. Here’s a diagram:

older longer younger newer

George and Bird identify the four groups, then advise how to wisely care for the different groups as follows:

  1. Those who are younger than you, and have been around the church for less time. These are the easiest to lead in some ways. They recognise you as their leader and are willing to submit to your leadership. They like the more ‘pioneering’ and ‘visionary’ voice and positively want you to stretch and challenge them.
  2. Those who are younger than you, but have been around longer. They too will be open to your leadership. They may be more attached to the ideas of those who’ve been around longer; they may not. You need to take them with you, but generally they’re willing to be led.
  3. Those who are older than you, but are newer to the church. These people come with experience (good and bad) and may be slightly suspicious of the younger leader with their dreams and schemes. That said, they come into something already existing (and hopefully with some momentum), and provided you don’t patronise them, they will be glad to lend a hand and get involved.
  4. Those who are older than you, and have been around longer than you. George and Bird suggest that these may be the hardest group to lead. They may be resistant to change and new ideas. They’ve seen dreamers and schemers come and go, and they may remember the past with rose-tinted specs. The leader needs to appreciate not only what these folks can offer now, but all the work they’ve done before you were a twinkle in your daddy’s eye. They value being consulted, listened to, conversed with, and genuine appreciation. The great danger (according to George and Bird) is because these folk can sometimes be difficult the young leader ignores them, and focuses all their attention on the younger generation. This further alienates and discourages the older wiser group.

There’s much else in the book that is worthy of your attention, so why don’t you buy a few copies and read it with your team.