7th March 2021 - 3rd in Lent

7th March 2021 - 3rd in Lent - John 2:13-25 - Jesus Driving out the money Changers

 

May the Words of my mouth and the meditations of each heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

 

Summary:

As we prayed on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a time of self-examination, repentance, fasting, self-denial, and reading and meditating on God's holy Word. As we continue our Lenten practice of searching the contents of our hearts and souls, the Gospel of John challenges us to dig deeper...to move further...and to act more courageously.

As we continue our self-examination of Lent, the Gospel of John presents us with a challenging story of Jesus' anger and prophetic response to the merchants and money changers in the temple. This passage reminds us that, as part of our self- examination, we need to discern who we are called to stand up for. God gives us the love, the strength, the community, and the example of Jesus to meet that call...the call to spread the Good News that God's love brings mercy and justice for all people.

Today's passage brings us face to face with a Jesus that's sometimes hard to imagine. This is a Jesus who's angry.  He's fed up!

As Jesus makes his way toward the temple in Jerusalem, it's the festival of the Passover.  There are people everywhere. It's crowded and noisy as the people enter the city. There's electricity in the air. There's the anticipation of the Passover. And there's also tension because the Roman soldiers are on guard for any sign of disturbance from these Jewish pilgrims. 

Although it sounds highly sacrilegious to our 21st century minds for there to be money changers and merchants set up in the temple, it was actually considered a necessary and useful arrangement. People are traveling from far away and need the kinds of animals to sacrifice for the Passover. The merchants and money changers are providing services for the faithful who are traveling at great risk and cost to come to the temple at Passover.

In the midst of all of this tension and commotion, Jesus enters the temple. As he looks around, he becomes enraged. He makes a whip out of several cords and begins driving out the merchants and the animals. He pours out the coins from the money changes and turns over their tables. He tells the dove sellers to take their things out and to “stop making my Father's house a marketplace!"

His disciples witness this scene and recall scripture. In the Gospel of John, they recognise Jesus as their Lord, even early on. But the temple leaders try to debate Jesus. Of course, they don't fully understand his responses about the temple being destroyed and raised in three days. And the final sentence in this passage suggests that the disciples did not fully realise that Jesus was talking about himself and his own body until after the Resurrection.

But what's the point here? Why was Jesus so angry? And how does this passage speak to us today?

The Gospel of John doesn't really make it clear as to why Jesus was so upset.

The other gospel accounts of this incident suggest that the merchants were taking advantage of the pilgrims, and this is the first place that I would like to start. People who were taking advantage of the poor.

Religion that is corrupt.  That making money had become the focus of what they were doing in the Temple than the true worship of God. 

This story of Jesus driving out the money changers in the temple prompts us to reflect this week, not just on our own human shortcoming and sinfulness, but how sin is also a corporate disease – it is something that communities do and collude together – normally against those who are more vulnerable and disadvantaged.  Often we take it out on those who are different, whether it is due to the colour of their skin, their social status, their gender – usually because they are female, and due to their sexuality.

The final thought I want to leave you with, if we aren’t one of those minorities that are discriminated against, then we have power.  WE have our voices to stand up and speak out for those who are on the margins.

Perhaps we need some of Jesus anger to spur us on and drive these corporate sins from our world.

Amen.