March 15 – Jesus Cleanses The Temple
The 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!