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Lent reflection Cover Image

The Temple of God, John 2:13-22

13th Mar 2019

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 marketplace!” 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.  (NRSV)

I have always found it fascinating that John places the cleansing of the temple by Jesus as his second public action as Messiah. Having heard many opinions as to why over the years, I may never be certain.

What I do know is John presents Jesus as the glory of our God amid the creation. The Shekinah of the Old Testament was seen in the cloud which followed the people of God in the wilderness. When the cloud was there, the people knew God’s glory was with them. In the person of Jesus, John tells us God’s glory was present in human form (The Word made Flesh). Therefore, after his first recorded miracle at Cana, Jesus enters the heart of the Jewish community in the Temple and seeks to put right the misguided practice of ‘charging’ for engaging in the ritual of faith.

For the Christian, Jesus comes to be seen as the sign of God – John shows him to be the one who embodies God’s purpose. In this passage we see Jesus, the sign of God, coming to recall the people to their true holy purpose – to be set apart for the things of God. What could be said to have developed is the practice of allowing the pursuit of a relationship with the Father to be hampered by the establishment of a system which exploited the pursuit of faith. Little wonder that Jesus who came to re-establish our relationship with the Father responds with righteous indignation. So, the glory of God come to dwell among us is presented at this signal event near the beginning of his ministry as calling to account the practice of religion so that it is realigned to be about the pure and holy adoration of the Creator.

Today we are thankful that we are able to stand as a forgiven people before the throne of grace. We are called to carry to our nation the truth of Jesus, the Glory of God, the one who restores right relationship and helps us become the people we are called to be.

Thanks be to God.

The Ven David Picken, Archdeacon of Newark, St John's College Trustee