In those passion days he had eddies of tenderness where healing and blessing would swirl and pool. But then there were the shoots. He had raged at the Pharisees before, but this time stands out in its structure and effect, he was at the height of his powers. So many now cling to the sylvan great commission; rarely, if ever, is much made of Jesus’ great condemnation.
‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, charlatans!’ We all knew who he was addressing, but each time Jesus named them, each time more fearless than the last. To see and hear him was to taste the wild, a primeval fang and froth that dared not yield. ‘You are born dead! You have ceased to be sons of living fathers! You have become more and more contented with your condition! You have acquired a taste for it! Woe, woe to you!’
I believe he touched the quick of their lives that day. He ached for them to know whose side to be on, where to give their allegiance, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise. But they stood defiant, mucked-up geese relentlessly preening in a field of mint and dill, a brood of blind bones slithering in a lost city, a grievous long prayer bloated with blood instead of mercy.
The rocks that only days earlier yearned to cry out drew back at his lamentation, as did I.