Thursday 22 June 2017

Bible Book:

“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.’” (vv. 16-17)

John 2:13-25 Thursday 22 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 22:22-31


Passover time would have been hectic in Jerusalem. The annualfestival (see Exodus 12:14, 24-27) marked how, at onedefinitive moment in Jewish history, God's angel 'passed over'Israelite homes, sparing families from death. Then, how Mosesrushed God's people across a miraculously divided Red Sea to escapeEgyptian slavery. Making sacrifices in the temple was a crucialpart of giving thanks to God for this amazing protection andsalvation. But the logistics of how to do this in a religiouslycorrect way were complex. Visitors who'd maybe travelled far toJerusalem for Passover needed foreign exchange to buy acceptablesacrificial animals and pay the required temple taxes. All this isbehind the scene we read today, sometimes called, 'The Cleansing ofthe Temple'.

The episode is found in all four Gospels (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark11:15-19 and Luke 19:45-48), but only John's Gospel puts itnear the start of Jesus' ministry. The others record it happeningnot long before his trial and crucifixion. Whenever it took place,it would have been shocking and controversial. In the otherGospels, Jesus calls the temple market a "den of robbers" (eg Matthew 21:13), which sounds like an attackparticularly on corrupt practices: perhaps charging more than wasfair for ritually clean animals and making the poor suffer. Here itseems Jesus just doesn't want the Father's house to be a place oftrade at all. Simple as that. 'Zeal for your house will consumeme', quotes Psalm 69:9. Jesus shows 'zeal', passion, forthe purity of God's house and anticipates death may be his rewardfor such conviction and dramatic action. As well as being told theevents (verses 14-17) we read about the controversy they stirred up(verses 18-22). The language of 'sign', so familiar in John'sGospel, is here. 'What sign can you show?' Jesus is asked (v. 18),that can justify or explain these terrible actions. What can Godpossibly be pointing us towards? Think temple - think my own body,comes the answer (verses 20-21). What is destroyed will rise again.But comprehension of that will have to wait a while.

To Ponder

  • Jumble sales, bric-a-brac stalls, autumn bazaars, Christmasfairs, cathedral gift shops. To what extent are we turning sacredspaces into market places? What are your views?
  • What's the most controversial thing you've ever witnessed orheard about that happened in a place of worship? What were theconsequences?


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