“His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire” (Lk. 3:17).
These words were spoken by St. John the Baptist regarding our Lord Jesus Christ at the start of His public ministry.
The Lord has come to winnow the hearts of men.
As our Lord enters into Jerusalem to the praise of the crowds, six days before the Passover, the winnowing of the Old Testament Church, the children of Israel, is coming to a head.
Many who today are singing His praises will be calling for His crucifixion in a few days’ time.
In the Synoptic Gospels’ account, the entry into Jerusalem is clearly connected to a final winnowing. Immediately following His entry it is recorded that the Lord weeps over Jerusalem, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Lk. 19:41).
The children of Israel should have known their Messiah. After all, they were the Qahal of the Lord. Those gathered from the nations and set apart to worship the One True God. They were the manifestation of the Church in the Old Testament.
After weeping over the blindness of old Jerusalem, the Lord forthwith enters into the place representing the very heart of Old Testament worship- the Temple in Jerusalem, “And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers” (Lk. 19:45).
For many of the people and religious leaders of that time, the Revelation of God through Moses and the Prophets had become but a means to material well-being and authority.
St. John the Theologian gives us a glimpse into the mind of the Pharisees and chief priests, “If we let Him go on like this … the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (Jn. 11:48). The Lord Jesus was threatening the comfort status of many at that time. They did not want to follow Him to Golgotha because that would mean the loss of “their place.” So, rather than lose their place they choose to sacrifice the Lord Jesus, their Messiah. And as it turns out by sacrificing the Lord they also sacrificed their place, for it was ultimately only given to them by the Lord. Tragically they loved the place and stature that the Revelation of God through Moses provided them more than God Himself.
The culmination of this is revealed when before Pilate they confess Caesar’s authority above that of the Lord, “Away with Him … crucify Him! … We have no king but Caesar!” (Jn. 19:15).
The winnowing was complete. The hearts of the people of God had been revealed. Ultimately, the majority of Israel chose to trust Caesar in a vain attempt to preserve their place. We have no king but Ceaser! Ultimately, Jerusalem and the Temple itself will be razed to the ground by the order of Caesar himself, as the Lord warned, “They will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Lk. 19:44).
May we know the time of our visitation; may we know the season of our winnowing.
As I continue to contemplate the complex situation in which many find themselves, I was struck by certain hymns for the Feast of Palm Sunday. It is the clear teaching of the Church that if we desire to hear the Word of the Lord then all we need to do is open our Bibles and start reading. The Scripture is the infallible Word of God. But there are also other ways to hear what the Spirit of the Lord says to the Church. One of which is through the hymns that we sing and pray in the services.
I heard the Lord saying, not once but multiple times, in the hymns of the service for Palm Sunday, “The Grace of the Holy Spirit has assembled us today ….” And yet I found that current events are working against this call of the Lord. Most in the church have been disassembled to their homes. And I wonder if the word of the Lord says that the Grace of the Holy Spirit gathers us together, who desires that we be driven from assembling in Church?
I heard again the voice of the Lord today telling us that He “has invited us to the spiritual banquet of His bridal chamber” (Matins of Holy Tuesday, Aposticha verses). How can we forbid a response to the invitation of the Lord?
I ask this in relation to the deeper agenda driving the current situation. I’m wondering about the motives of certain “powers.” For I have heard the Lord speak clearly: He, by His Grace, assembles His people together in the Ecclesia to worship. Who benefits if this Grace is not completed?
So I wonder, is the prohibition by secular powers on full assembly in Church truly out of genuine concern for well-being? Or is the threat of physical sickness being used as a mask to accomplish a much darker goal? Again, who desires that worship in church stop; that the power and grace of corporate prayer be hindered, and the might of the mysteries be halted?
I think we would do well to consider the nature and agenda of many of the powers behind current agendas and fears. Blind trust in Caesar does not end well.
I offer for consideration that groups like the CDC and WHO are major for-profit organizations with deep ties to godless men and agendas. Why do they want a lock-down?
I offer that the CDC is massively manipulating the numbers with regard to “deaths” from the C-virus. It has an interest in continuing an environment of fear.
I offer for contemplation that major godless men desire to control and manipulate human life, essentially setting themselves up as “gods.” These men hate true Christian worship. If they are some of the major powers behind current events, then can their intentions be good?
I have provided just a few links above which I encourage you, the reader, to explore and ruminate upon.
I would also like to recommend considering these thoughtful wonderings by Fr. Peter Heers, he poses some important questions with regard to church life.
As were the children of God throughout all times, we are called to an unshakable Kingdom. We are called to place our hearts upon that which is honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (cf. Phil. 4:8). For, of such are the Kingdom of Heaven.
Only from such a place can the people of God, “take no part in the works of darkness, but instead expose them” (cf. Eph. 5:11). Only true light can drive the darkness away.
One thing seems pretty clear, unquestioning hope in Caesar rarely works for the preservation of the things of God.