Tough and Tender
Gentle leaders tend to be too soft and passive. Strong leaders tend to be too hard and aggressive. In the popular imagination Jesus often comes across as a tender, humble guy. Yesterday we caught of glimpse of Him riding over the Mount of Olives, down into the valley and then up into the Eastern gate of the Temple. We heard the children singing “Hosanna” to the Galilean prophet, a King who presented Himself in humility, riding on a donkey. It’s easy to picture a Mr. Rogers like Pied Piper. But this caricature would be wrong, and this is why we constantly stress that we need to read a book like Matthew from the beginning to the end. If you isolate the Triumphal Entry episode from the next episode Matthew writes about, you will present a warped, wrong picture of the true Christ. We need to keep reading and prayerfully think about what we learned in one section with what we learn in the next.
In the next episode when Jesus enters His Father’s Temple and sees the banking tables for money exchange and the animal market that looks more like a Texas cattle auction than a prayer chapel, He does not respond in soft, sweet gestures.
“Now Jesus entered the Temple, and He drove out all those who were selling and buying in the Temple, and He overturned the money changer tables and the chairs of those selling doves. Then He said, ‘It stands written, My House will be called a House of Prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. ‘” - (Matthew 21:12-13)
Jesus was neither too passive or too aggressive. He was the perfect blend of both; gentle with a crowd shouting His praises, but tough with a crowd of thieves turning a place of prayer into a bazaar. If we keep tracking with Matthew, we will get the true picture of the perfect leader—both gentle and strong.
LORD, only your presence in my life today can help me to know when I’m dealing with children who need a soft, caring touch, and when I’m dealing with materialistic thieves who need a good verbal whipping and overturned tables. Help me to preserve desperately needed places and times of prayer. Protect me from being too soft or too tough. LORD, make me like You!
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