I hope and pray this letter finds you safe and well. As our Lenten journey continues, we jump across to the gospel of John and look at John 2: 13 – 22. Last week we looked at whether someone had said something which you found hard to accept. This week have you ever witnessed someone doing something out of character that has either shocked or surprised you? It could be a close friend or family member or someone at church. I remember years ago visiting a church for the first time and a baby was being baptised and it was a beautiful service and then suddenly, there was screaming and shouting from the back of the church and the person operating the PowerPoint went berserk and started kicking the desk and hitting the computer angrily, after shouting something he then marched out of the door. To his credit the minister said, ‘oh dear, we appear to be having a few technical difficulties’ and calmly continued with the service.
This week we explore the familiar reading of Jesus visiting Jerusalem at the time of Passover, so the city would have been busy with people coming to the city for this important Jewish festival. Jesus arrives at the temple and He is clearly shocked and dismayed at what He sees. A place of teaching, calm and prayer has been turned into a marketplace with stalls everywhere and hustle and bustle all around. There are people selling animals such as cattle, sheep, and doves whilst others exchange currency seated at tables. Jesus is so incensed He makes a whip out of cords and begins to drive out the sellers from the temple courts, scattering the coins everywhere and overturning the tables as he went. Can you imagine the scene? People running around all over the place, traders trying to collect their money, animals running amok scared at all the commotion. It would have been quite a sight to behold. Jesus then rebukes those selling doves with the words, “get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
The disciples must have been witnesses to this because some words from Psalm 69: 9, ‘zeal for your house will consume me’, are brought to their minds. Do you wonder what they were thinking at this point? The officials then start to debate with Jesus, asking for a sign to prove that He has authority to do all this. Jesus’ reply is even more startling than all which has just taken place. He states that if the temple is destroyed, He will raise it again in three days. The officials are perplexed and state that it has taken forty-six years to build and question Jesus’ timeframe. However, Jesus is talking about the temple of His body rather than the physical building. This conversation was so memorable though, that after Jesus was raised from the dead it was brough back to the minds of the disciples.
We learn two important lessons from this event. Firstly, unlike the outburst of the guy with the PowerPoint the response of Jesus in the temple was justified and He acted with righteous anger, because it was a matter of justice but also respect for God and the temple. Secondly, we see a glimpse of what is to come and how Jesus’ body will replace the whole temple system for the atonement of sins. This Lent let us reflect and remember all that Jesus has done for us.
May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, bless us now and always,