Posted on Sun, Mar 8, 2015
March 8, 2015
3rd Sunday in Lent
John 2:13-22 - “Cleanse Our Hearts Oh God”
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. 15 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. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ 18 The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ 19 Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ 20 The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
I love the title my bible gives to today’s Gospel text, “Jesus Cleanses the Temple.”
It is a cleansing, but not a cleansing with gentle soap, conditioner and body lotion… It is a very violent event that turns the “normal” functioning life of the working people in and around the temple upside down. The money-changers, animal sellers, and even the priests overseeing the entire operation are oblivious to anything they were doing wrong before Jesus arrives. As far as they are concerned, what they are doing is normal if not ‘up worthy’ work, providing the people what they need to give their proper sacrifice and offering. The system worked! The system provided jobs, supported the temple, was well organized and made a complete mockery of their God and God’s purpose!
Many people believed that the temple was the place where God lived and spoke to the people through the priests and occasional prophet that came along. What the people made of this concept was a total abomination to what the God of Israel had demonstrated of God’s-self throughout the Old Testament.
Today’s text is critically important because it is the text where Jesus makes it clear that the Living God cannot be kept in a box! Our God is a God of love, justice and mercy that cannot be hidden away from God’s people.
Jesus proclaims to the religious leaders, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up!’ Here Jesus is telling the people that the temple of God is found in the very being of Jesus Himself… Jesus is announcing the beginning of the Trinitarian Formulae.
And along with the metaphor of proclaiming that Jesus will ‘raise up the temple in three days,’ when John tells us that Jesus quickly creates ‘a whip of cords,’ this too is a foreshadowing of what Jesus will soon experience when his is scourged.
What is God’s purpose for humankind? Is it to be served by profit driven money-changers and priests? Jesus makes it clear that the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. And how does the Son of Man expect to serve? Jesus made it very clear at the very beginning of His ministry found in Luke 4:14-19:
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. 15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
Were any of these activities going on at the temple in Jerusalem? The so-called place, “where God lived?” In order to “cleanse” the temples, Jesus is simply illuminating the hypocrisy and sin that was taking place there, AND REMOVING IT! SO THAT, the CHOSEN People of God can, bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ None of which was being done at the place where God supposedly lived.
Interestingly after Jesus proclaimed how he was to ‘usher in the Kingdom of God” in Luke 4:14-19, the people tried to kill him then as well… The truth hurts when we realize the truth illumines parts of us that we would rather keep hidden from the Light of Day, the Truth of God, or even ourselves.
Oh, if only the running out of a the money-changers, their animals and all those only interested in turning a quick profit would be necessary for the cleansing and forgiveness of the world… We all know what would soon happen to Jesus after he exposed more the sin and corruption of the temple and it’s leadership… The leadership, the ones who profited from the system, would seek his death…
Exposing the truth would cost him his life… NO! This isn’t quite true. In order to cleanse us from the truth of our brokenness, JESUS WOULD HAVE TO GIVE HIS LIFE.
The entire purpose of Jesus’ mission was to give his life for our cleansing, for our forgiveness, for our re-creation, for our true spiritual freedom!
The healings, the casting out of demons, the feeding of the five thousand, the hope restored to the woman at the well, and even the resurrection were wonderful things for humans to behold and witness. But the true Glory of God is seen when Jesus is on the Cross and says to each and everyone of us, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Jesus didn't say that just to the soldiers who nailed him to the cross and the religious zealots whipping up the crowds, Jesus was looking into the total past and future, you and I, and looking at us squarely in the eyes and saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
We don’t know the depth of our brokenness. We can’t know the depth of our brokenness. If we did, the extent of the true pain and sorrow we carry everyday, it would certainly kill us. But Jesus knows the complete burden of our brokenness we carry around each and everyday! You know only the brokenness you allow yourself to acknowledge to yourself, but never to be uttered for any human to hear.
Jesus knows what we have done or left undone, what we have said or wish we hadn’t said… You know some of it.
Today, I want you to think of some of the symptoms of our brokenness, our sins, doubts, fears, addictions, desire for personal glory or revenge, feelings of spite or personal indignation, or anything that draws you away from THE JOY of journeying with Jesus, who promises to be with us each and everyday until the end of the age.
Write it down, fold it up (because it is only between you and God), and bring it to the cross. Bring them down to the cross with the conviction that you are giving these sins to God, because they are not yours to haul around everyday, nail them to the cross as though you are crucifying them. And then leave them at the cross! Your sins, doubts, fears, resentment and all that causes pain, loneliness and self-aggrandizement, all belong to God. Give them over to God and through the Glory of God, only seen through the Cross of Christ allow yourself to be fully cleansed! Jesus gave his life SO THAT we could repent of our sin, throw away all the junk in our lives and then allow the Holy Spirit to Re-Create us into the people we were meant to be. People filled with hope, joy, and the heart for service, mercy and love.
Come to the Cross of Christ, and lay your burdens down. Amen.
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