From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

March 15 – Jesus Cleanses The Temple

jesus_templeThe gospel reading for this coming Sunday is John 2:13-22, the account of Jesus’ cleansing the Temple. Note that it’s one of the very few accounts related by all four gospels, though John adds his own spin and details.  For example, John alone mentions the sheep and oxen; John alone mentions Jesus making a whip; John alone records Jesus challenge about “destroy this Temple”, which, by the way, is a command (“do it”), not a subjunctive (“if you destroy”).

Most interesting to me is the slightly different explanation Jesus gives for his actions. In Matthew, Mark and Luke (the Synoptic gospels) with very slight variations, Jesus is quoted as saying “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.” (Mt. 21:13; Mk. 11:17; Lu. 19:46). In John, Jesus says “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

John also includes Jesus’ challenge to the ruling authorities – “destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.” While this is a key to understanding the cleansing of the Temple, this coming Sunday I want to ponder further the difference in Jesus’ quotations noted above. Is he objecting to the corruption (“den of robbers”), or is he objecting to the commerce, the buying & selling itself (“house of trade”)? Does it make any difference? And how would either “take” apply to us today?

More thoughts on Sunday – come get it live!

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4 responses

  1. Gregg Haege

    Pastor – I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon Sunday, and I will say again, I thank God for your words. The pith of your sermon–“What do you want from the services?” was the best, because it pointed up the noise of today’s mega-church “worship.” As I reflect upon the charismatic origin of so many of today’s repetitive, round-praise-songs, I find myself pitying those who are satisfied with that shallow experience. As you preached before, God is probably disappointed with how little we expect. What do we want and how badly do we want it? Do we really want a deepening relationship with God more than anything else?

    I have heard of local, large Metro-East churches equipped with Starbuck’s shops and booskshops right inside the church building. How familiar, handy, friendly, relaxing–and shallow. Why not just be still and know that He is God? I am not satisfied with that, and I personally believe this is a sign of apostacy in the one Universal Church. I have been so gratified with the silence of the Lenten services on Wednesday nights. I love to listen to St Paul’s bells and organ at the end of the service, triumphant in their sound, and complete in their reverence for The Lord. I pray our church will covet silence and reverence in the presence of The Almighty.

    March 17, 2009 at 3:19 pm

  2. We’re on the same page, Gregg! It seems to me that what you call the “noise” of the mega-churches is an example of churches aping the culture. We want so desperately to be approved of by the powers that be! What a counter-cultural thing to emphasize silence, to “be still and know that I am God”. Silence can be a way of encountering the transcendence, the holiness of God – something else I think is lacking in too many worship services that focus on us: how we feel, what we should do.

    March 18, 2009 at 7:28 am

  3. Linda Edgington

    Hi. Your picture posted of Jesus with the whip on March 15, 2009, is a great illustration — very realistic-looking — and would be a nice one to use in the Biblical Psychology textbook by Dr. Tom Edgington to be published by BMH books. Can you tell me where the picture came from and what the copyright information is? Who would I need to contact to gain permission to use the image (assuming the cost is not above the author’s budget).

    Thank you for whatever information you can give.

    October 18, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    • I got the picture by doing an image search – google “jesus cleanses temple” and you’ll see it there. As it’s on google, I assume there’s no copyright problem.

      October 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

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