[I am way behind on this project. If I am consistent on anything, it is being inconsistent. I will get 40 entries done, hopefully within reasonable proximity to the end of Lent. When I started this project, my intent was to do 20 days using the Hebrew Scripture and 20 days using the New Testament. Since we are at the halfway point of Lent, I am switching to the NT passages, but I will come back to the even things up at the end]
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making 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.He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After 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. – John 2:13-21
I love this story!
I don’t just love this story, I love John’s version of this story.
What’s notable about John’s version versus the synoptic gospels? Two things: John puts this at the beginning of his story. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this episode is a part of the narrative of Jesus’ last week and it’s hinted that it is a part of what lead people to want to kill him. Here, in John’s gospel, this is right at the beginning of Jesus going public…
…which leads me to believe that, at least within the Johannine world, this was an annual thing that Jesus did. Annual at least!
I love the idea of Jesus just knocking over the tables of anyone he saw trying to make a profit by exploiting people or trying to make a buck off of religious good and services.
Can you imagine Jesus walking through a Christian bookstore and trashing everything? Cause I can!
The second thing I love about John’s version, and maybe Mark and the boys were just a little too timid to add this detail, is that Jesus made a whip.
Jesus. Made. A. Whip.
Jesus turned into Indiana Jones. That’s pretty badass!
The integrity of the temple is this serious to Jesus. It was important not because the place was special in and of itself but because it was the symbol of people’s access to God. This access is not a thing to be commodified. It is our birthright.
And that same unhindered access to God is what He represents, a point He makes clearly in his remarks about the temple.
Jesus is passionate about people having access to God. I think that is a passion worth sharing. It is a passion worthy of our anger and outrage when we see that that access is being denied or dictated by others.
As we build we need to obsess ourselves with the question “what might I be doing that is a hindrance to people experiencing God?” and then we must purge those a way.
Preferably with a whip.