Everyone wants to be included. There is no deeper feeling of insecurity or unwanted-ness than being left out. We define ourselves by our family, job, career position, friends, abilities, and property. Knowing that I was going down— and fast, there was no other escape, how would I want to be saved or helped? In history, the Jewish people stand at the crossroads of accepting Herod and what he stands for or revolting and being eliminated. Being on this end of the story, I can say I would revolt, but we understand through history that when the Jewish people revolted, they were taken out and a new world order was established.

I sensed throughout the day the tensions of unity and the wanting of power. From the Temple Mount to the Herodian Quarter and including the Pool of Bethesda, I felt a presence of excess and exclusion. Although I believe that using the money to benefit oneself is not wrong, I do feel that the excesses that were brought into the Jewish environment and into the Priestly line run against the teachings of not only Jesus but also Torah. Are we able to separate out self and sacred? Unfortunately, I envisioned an all-consuming beast that devours all who do not measure up— an anti-Christ figure of excess and exclusion. So, I ask myself the cliche “What Would Jesus Do?” Torah and the New Testament specifically speak about the love for God with everything on has in mind, body, and soul— this to me includes the love of another, for if one has the love for God, He will give the love required to give out to others. Love does not segregate. Throughout my being, I wished Herod and the Empire rulers were not so self-centric and could look beyond to share love instead of finding a way to make One Empire. The only kingdom that matters is the kingdom of God.

The Herodian projects and styles are to be looked upon in wonder for the beauty and craftsmanship (creation) are mirrored characteristics of God radiating to humanity. It is the symbolic meaning behind these projects that I find “keeping up with the Jones” a bit disturbing. Owning a home that is like the ruler in order to get into the higher ranks seems a bit petty and insecure. It excludes people. Even at the Church of St. Anne, I felt the emotions of exclusion when being reminded of the man at the pool looking for any way to be healed. He has no family, seemingly no friends, he is alone with no one to help him get into the pool and Jesus comes as a stranger to meet his need by asking a question, “Why have you come?” This is a question that He asks even me.

I look around Jerusalem and I see a lot of foreign things, maybe not idols, but the mix-mash of religions and ancient times layered upon one another seeking one thing, control over the future. Don’t we all want to control the destiny of our lives rather than give it up to some other-ness or foreign-ness that can take us out of our comfort zone and into realms that we’d rather not trod? We find ways to tolerate one another when in fact rather just have God to ourselves because “MY” God is the only one who will answer correctly or “MY” God will satisfy only me and not you. It is all about what makes me comfortable. It was posted yesterday that in the 1st Century Jewish time there were 1000 ways to be a “Jew”, but what one is right? I have only begun to think that this started the power, control of the autonomous “ME”. The Bible clearly outlines that as followers of Jesus the Messiah, we ought to want to be “others” centered, it is a collective people group, all nations that will be blessed by God and call Him Lord of ALL.