Rigor and Rhythm


“And every day [Jesus] was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him” (Luke).

During this stint of Jesus’s ministry in Jerusalem, he taught IN the temple every day, then he went OUT and lodged on the mountain. Then, early in the morning, the people came to hear him teach IN the temple.

In…out…in…out - every day. Temple teaching, mountain lodging. Crowd ministry, solitude.

It’s been pointed out by many teachers that Jesus would teach or heal and then draw away into solitude. There’s nothing new here, and every time I hear it taught as though it’s a new revelation I roll my eyes just a little. It’s not new. It’s obvious - this was the source of Jesus’s ministry. He spent time alone. Alone with God. Alone with himself.

It’s the daily part that provokes me. It unsettles me. I’m not good at daily. I’m good at occasionally.

Daily, Jesus taught in the temple. Nightly, Jesus lodged on the mountain. Daily teaching is draining. Nightly lodging on the mountain is spartan, rigorous.

The people who came to hear him came early to the temple, daily, each morning. He was there, early. Then, nightly, mountain lodging.

I have many things of importance in my life, but only a few of them get daily, nightly attention. At least that’s my aspiration. And it would be nice to speak of sacred rhythms here, finding a sacred rhythm for those important things, and this I have done and could do, but “sacred” just doesn’t describe these rhythms. Rigor, discipline, fortitude, Spirit-led determination - these words get close.

I get the sense that Jesus wasn’t fooling around, leaning upon his emotions or allowing himself to be swayed from his rigor, his discipline, his rhythm. He set his face like flint toward his destiny and walked it out, daily, nightly.

Perhaps, the reason daily and nightly rigor is not so evident in life is because we haven’t found anything worth living for that requires rigor. Or, we have found it, but we’re not that serious about pursuing it.

I could offer a million disclaimers about seasons of life that inhibit us from pursuing our heart’s desire. Surely, there are seasons that make rigorous pursuit difficult, if not seemingly impossible. Personally, all those things I’d list as disclaimers usually just become my excuses.

What is my daily “in the temple” teaching as a minister? What is my nightly “on the mountain” lodging as a child of God, as a student listening to the heavens, gazing at the starts like the ancients?

Tommy Brown2 Comments