3rd Sunday of Lent 11.3.12. John 2.13-22

29 02 2012

Making a Mess of the Temple

Jesus does not waste any time in Jerusalem.  Nor does he pull his punches. There is violence here, in the whip of cords, in the action and in the words. Things are not looking good. People are getting hurt and it is going to get worse. But there is also fulfillment.

John 2.13-22

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ 17His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ 18The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ 19Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Reflections and Questions

‘Passover… Jews… Jerusalem’ v13.  The point comes across powerfully through the rhetoric of this first sentence. What point, exactly?

‘the temple’ v14. If ever there was an iconic building, this was it. The centre of religion. The centre of power. The house of God. The place overflowing with the glory and presence of  God.  But look! It is differently full today. Sheep and cattle, doves and money-changers fill it up. The sight of it all, the chaos of it all, brought out the prophet in Jesus. What does it bring out in you?

‘what sign can you show us?’ v18  Good question. Jesus has attacked the ultimate sign. He has set about deconstructing the most powerful symbol ever created.  He must have something pretty spectacular to replace it with. And yet, all he can come up with is his body.  What sort of religion is this, that replaces a temple with a body?

‘his disciples remembered’ v22  We often forget that the gospels were written a long time after the event. The stories are so vivid, and the teaching so compelling, that we experience them as ‘live’.  Notice here, however, that the believing comes not at the time but when they look back – through the lens of the resurrection. How does this passage come to life – or not – when you look at it from beyond the empty tomb?

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