Sunday 11 March 2012

Bible Book:

"The Jews then said, 'This temple has been under construction for 46 years, and you will raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking of the temple of his body." (vv. 20-21)

John 2:13-22 Sunday 11 March 2012


In comparison with the architects and builders of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral inBarcelona, which was commenced in 1882 and has an estimatedcompletion date of 2026, a mere 46 years to build a temple may seemspeedy! However, the Jews in this story have, as so often in John'snarratives, missed the point by speaking about buildings at all.The words and actions of Jesus in this incident may remind us ofthe prophets of the Old Testament who often DID something obviousand visible in order to TEACH something less clear (eg Ahijahin 1 Kings 11:29-35).

In first century-Jerusalem, only certain coins could be used to paythe temple tax, so moneychangers set up stall in the templecourtyards, along with those who, like refreshment kiosks in WestEnd theatres, took advantage of their captive audiences by sellinganimals for sacrifice, possibly at inflated prices. So Jesus reactsforcefully, even violently, driving out the animals and overturningthe tables of money, declaring that they are inappropriate in "myFather's house" (v. 16). His Jewish critics demand a reason (or"sign" (v. 18)) for his behaviour, in reply to which Jesus makesthe enigmatic statement about destroying the temple and he willraise it up in three days. This leads to further confusion, so Johnadds a note for the benefit of his readers, explaining that Jesusmeant his own body, not the temple building. By identifying himselfwith the temple, Jesus seems to be saying that he, not a building,is the real dwelling place of God, the true revelation of God'spresence.

In the week of readings ahead, from Paul's letter to the Romans, wewill see more clashes between old and new understandings. Perhapsthis story illustrates the belief that, in Jesus, "everything oldhas passed away, see, everything has become new"" (2Corinthians 5:17)?

To Ponder

Are there things happening in organised Christianreligion today which should make us angry? What are they?

If Jesus is now the real revelation of God'spresence, what significance do buildings have for Christianstoday?

Many Christian denominations have an importantsense of history and heritage; how far is this compatible with theidea that "everything has become new"?

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