The Temple’s End

Easter was such a wonderful time of remembering the hope we have in Christ through the power of his resurrection. This Sunday we’ll be returning to our study in the Gospel of Luke – even though Easter was a bit of a spoiler on how this story will turn out.

We’ll be reading what may be a familiar passage – what has been traditionally called “the cleansing of the temple”. Our text will be Luke 19:45-20:8. Normally when we hear about Jesus driving out those who were selling sacrificial animals and exchanging money in the temple, we assume his motive is to rebuke commercialism/consumerism within the house of worship. I would say the majority of people read it that way…I know I always did.

This Sunday we’re going to challenge that idea. Jesus was certainly staging a prophetic rebuke…but of what? There is an alternative proposition about what Jesus was doing that I find quite persuasive, and the message if far deeper and heavier than mere consumerism. (Not to excuse a consumer mindset within the sphere of worship – there are other places in Scripture that address that as improper, but I’m not convinced that’s what Jesus was doing in this particular text)

Here’s some homework: read Isaiah 56:6-7 as well as Jeremiah 7:4-6,9-11. These are the passages that Jesus is quoting. If we employ Tim Mackie’s idea of using those references as hyperlinks, what are those passages making a point about? How do they expose what Jesus may be getting at? What might it mean that the temple had become a criminal hideout (den of thieves)?

The next section we’ll read is ch 20:1-8 where the leading authority figures challenge Jesus about his authority to do what he did in the temple. The section is rich in irony, which drives home the point about what the temple had become. When Jesus reverses the question on them, who do they look to for answers? What is it that motivates their response? What does that tell us about their view of authority, and how does that reflect on the temple?

I hope you can join us this Sunday as we dig in to this text together!

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