18 June 2020John 2:13-35
Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the Temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured 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 marketplace’. (vs. 15-16)
Psalm: Psalm 63:1-8
The Gospel of John, written in about 100 AD, differs markedly from the other gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke. The stories in this Gospel all have a deeper meaning. This incident, which is preceded by the story of the wedding at Cana and followed by the visit to Jesus of Nicodemus, is found in the other three gospels. However, in those gospels the incident comes after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
The feast of the Passover commemorated the liberation of the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 12). Thousands of pilgrims would come from all over the world. They were required to pay temple tax in Roman currency. The money-changers exploited these pilgrims by charging them exorbitant exchange rates. And the doves, the only animal which poor people could afford to offer as a sacrifice, were sold at extortionate prices. The Temple was the centre of worship. The Jews were angry, because they felt that Jesus was acting without authority and that is why they asked him for a sign. In answer to their challenge, Jesus’ reference to the Temple in verse 19 is symbolic. Jesus’ anger was not because he disapproved of using the Temple as a place to trade. Instead, he was angry because people were being exploited in the name of religion.
Jesus did not underestimate the importance of the Temple; he was making a deeper point that religion was about much more than outward rituals, such as animal sacrifices.
- Can you think of examples in history and in the present day where people acted corruptly or unethically in the name of religion?
- What does this passage say about the way in which Christian faith is lived out in practice?