Saturday, March 14, 2009
Day 17- March 14
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. 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. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 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.
To exegete a passage presumes a knowledge of a text, and for biblical scholars, the context in which a biblical passage is found is one facet, of many, that helps to illuminate a text.
The message this passage is trying to convey about Jesus is that his action in the temple is prophetic. Jesus wasn't the first to criticize those who would make worship into a cultic act-- selling sacrificial animals to religious pilgrims. Jesus alludes to the prophet Zechariah (14:21) and gives us a clue to their meaning in John. On the day that the Lord comes to Jerusalem, there will no longer be traders in the house of the Lord. It's a new day, and it's a also an indication that the disciples will have a hard time with Jesus' words and actions and what will follow. Like most hearers, Jesus' words and actions cause both reflection and skepticism, but while the Jews turn hostile, the disciples, despite their lack of understanding, remain firm in their faith in him. John is looking back at these events, but so are we, and this passage provides us with a fine opportunity to think about what it means to trust in one who asks much of us and re-orders our understanding of what it means to be faithful.
Guide us, O God, in your ways. Teach us how to trust in you, even when we have questions and doubts. In Jesus' name. Amen.