Scripture: John 2:13-22
Key verses: (19-20) Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?”
Reflection: The temple was the heart of Judaism. People came to the temple for worship, celebration, mourning, politics and community. The temple was where God had promised to live in the midst of his people. At Passover, everyone gathers at the temple to celebrate their liberation and freedom from slavery. Jesus once again, turns everything upside down.
Entering the temple, Jesus is witness to the consumerism and chaos often found in a marketplace. The anger builds up and Jesus took a whip through the temple. Tables were turned over, doves released and money scattered. Those in authority did not ask why Jesus was turning over the tables but they asked if he had “authority”. They knew.
We see ourselves on the side of Jesus but we knew this day would come too. Richard Rohr reflected well on these words saying, “I am told that there are three kinds of cultures in the Western world today, each with its own “bottom line”: political cultures based on the manipulation of power, economic cultures based on the manipulation of money, and religious cultures based on the manipulation of some theory about God. These three cultures are based on different forms of violence, although it is usually denied by most participants and hidden from the superficial observer. Evil gains its power from disguise. Jesus undid the mask of disguise and revealed that our true loyalty was seldom really to God, but to power, money, and group belonging. (In fact, religion is often the easiest place to hide from God.)” When Jesus went through the temple, it was a clear rejection of this corruption. Are we hiding from God in the chaos of our lives or even the church?
Lent is a time to be honest with ourselves and with God. God is at work drawing us into relationship both with the divine and with the divine in each person we encounter. Jesus reminds us of this important message: God could not and will not be contained in the temple, structures, systems or even in the rituals. May the disruptive grace and mercy of God move through our lives turning over everything that stands in the way of a deep, authentic relationship.
Prayer: God, turn over the tables that provide a barrier between us and between love. Amen.
Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].