March 19, 2006 - Year B - Lent 3

John 2:13-22

 13 As the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple court he found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money-changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money-changers, scattering the coins, 16 and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away and stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”

17 His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your House devours me as a fire.

18 The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give you the right to do this?” 19 And Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then replied, “The building of this temple has already taken forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?”

21 Actually, Jesus was referring to the temple of his body. 22 Only when he had risen from the dead did his disciples remember these words; then they believed both the Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

• 13. Jesus had not yet begun his preaching. He went to the Temple of Jerusalem that was the heart of the Jewish nation and the symbol of their religion (Mk 11:12). The Temple, however, was not immune from corruption and lust for power. In the Temple the peo-ple had to make use of the priests’ services to offer their sacrifices. The priests’ authority and power derived from the Temple. The Temple was the place where the community’s offerings and gifts were brought; and there the chief priests disposed of this treasure. Besides this, they also received the taxes that the sellers and money changers paid.

Zeal for your house devours me as a fire, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. This is taken from Psalm 69. Actually the hatred of the chief priests for Jesus would bring him to his death.

The apostles could not understand these words: for at that time nothing was more sacred to them than the Temple and the Scripture. Later, they would know that the most ordinary word of Jesus had as much weight as the whole of Scripture. They would also understand that Jesus is the true Temple. Until then, people constructed temples and looked for places where they could meet God and obtain his favors. Now God has made himself present in Jesus: it is he who delivers God’s riches to us.

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Comments by Wesley

1. A trade in animals was foundational to the work of the Temple. This was something that undoubtedly grew over time (starting with folks like Cain and Abel expressing their thanks out in the open). Little by little, in an urban setting, animals were carted in because that had become the lingua franca of thanksgiving. It became so ordinary that no one noticed how interwoven were politics, religion, and the economy.

With Jesus loosing the animals, thanksgiving was loosed. Apparently it is dangerous to have loose thanksgiving, uncontrolled by the powers that be. It is as much a threat to the status quo as an enemy army on the horizon. Part of the danger is that thanksgiving is very akin to good humor that reveals the usually hidden aspects of our lives. Thanksgiving needs no artifacts to prop it up; thanksgiving is either thanksgiving or it is not.

2. Question: What behaviors, still only dimly perceived, link politics, religion, and the economy in today's world?

3. Question: Who will dare pull a Jesus today and confront the underpinnings of false, cultural religion that blocks us from free grace, free thanksgiving?

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