They were clean.
They wore beautiful robes, full of color and adorned with decorative tassels; impeccably put together, everything about them shouted proper, righteous, and good. They had really clean hands.
The others in the community revered them and treated them with honor, especially when they were given the respected position of entering into the Holy of Holies. They were chosen; their lineage was from the great ones. No one could ever converted into acceptance by God. You were chosen – or not. They had political and social power with the ability to make a difference for their people. Or so they thought. They practiced all the religious rituals necessary for redemption passionately. The law was their rule and they never broke it in their fervor for serving God.
They favored the rich over the poor for the rich proved God’s favor was upon them.
This often carried over in their ability to affect the needy – a preference for those with wealth and power didn’t help the cause of social justice so why bother.
There was another sect that didn’t focus as much on the rules but included social justice in their works and they were willing to accept those who converted into their fold. But convert they must. They were a slightly more liberal version and the ones most likely to listen to the stories told by the stranger who traveled through occasionally.
He was dirty. His robes carried the dust of travel and sleeping by the side of the road. Mostly, the grime from children was smudged into the folds, along with the rancor of the rotting flesh of the lepers. He broke the rules – all the time. He hung out with the wrong people – the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, and enemies. Women. His hands were dirty.
He was more interested in social justice and helping the needy than following man’s traditions and laws. He was not held in esteem but often ridiculed by those who knew his story, his heritage, and where he came from. He welcomed everyone and no-one had to be converted; they just had to follow him. He taught them with authority, and love. He healed them. He fed them. He loved them. He was their friend.
He was not permitted into the Holy of Holies like the others – nowhere near it. Instead he removed the barrier that kept them from speaking to God themselves by the ultimate sacrifice. He was loved for it. He still is. He was hated for it. He still is.
I hope those who know me see me in dirty clothes.
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.” Matthew 27:51
Note: When the curtain was torn at the moment of Christ’s death, the Holy of Holies was exposed, opening up the way to God and His mercy, directly through Jesus.