Sunday 08 March 2015

Bible Book:

“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.” (v. 15)

John 2:13-22 Sunday 8 March 2015

Psalm: Psalm 19


This passage about the cleansing of the Temple appears in allfour Gospels. However, Matthew, Mark and Luke all place it muchlater, soon after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which weremember on Palm Sunday. Here John has it close to the start of theGospel, just after Jesus calls the first disciples and his firstmiracle at the wedding in Cana. There is still discussion aboutwhether these are recording the same event or if there were twodifferent events.

The driving of the animals and overturning the tables is one oftwo passages that have been used to justify violence by thefollowers of Jesus (the other is Luke22:36 when Jesus instructs his disciples to sell their cloak tobuy a sword if they don't have one - and yet he then says a coupleof swords is enough and even then does not allow them to be used).Here John refers specifically to Jesus driving out the sheep andcattle with the "whip of cords" rather than seeing it as any showof violence towards people. The angry actions of Jesus to the moneychangers also hardly constitute violence towards people. However,since the time of Augustine (AD354-430) the Church has struggled tobe consistently non-violent. Using this passage to justify violencetowards others seems both a stretch and contrary to the rest of theteaching of Jesus (for example, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5).

When asked to justify himself, Jesus talks of his body replacingthe Temple. This fits neatly with his description of future worshipin the story of the woman at the well (John4:21-24). However, even though he is looking to replacingworship in the physical Temple building with worship of him inspirit, the way people behave towards that Temple (and perhapsespecially to those who are being exploited by that behaviour)still matters for the moment and drives him to anger.

To Ponder

  • How do you feel about Jesus and violence?
  • Jesus challenges people's understanding of the Temple. How doesthis fit with your views on Church buildings?
  • Jesus acts when he sees the Temple being abused and peoplebeing exploited. How does that challenge you today?


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