I remember when…we’ll say a friend of mine…pulled the lever on a fire-alarm at my middle school, and the gleeful chaos that ensued as classes were emptied and students gathered outside (this, of course, was in a world devoid of modern security threats and active shooter drills). One little lever pulled and it resulted in the total disruption of normal activities, for a little while anyway.
(I also remember the dire consequences that….we’ll say a friend of mine…suffered as a result of that prank – so that sort of behavior is NOT being approved by sharing that memory!)
It’s hard to fully grasp the events that took place that morning that Jesus walked into the temple grounds in Jerusalem and started throwing people out, but I think it may have been similar to pulling a fire-alarm trigger. That’s the story we’ll be tackling this Sunday as we explore John 2:13-25.
It’s easy for us to immediately assign the guilt in this scene to the people who are crassly selling the accouterments of worship at the temple. How dare they sell sacrificial animals like a commercial enterprise…and yet…there was a legitimate purpose that these vendors served. Imagine living a long ways from Jerusalem and hauling the required sacrifice with you. Imagine that a dog nips at it’s heel along the way, or worse, a wolf takes a bite out of it’s ear. The sacrifice won’t be accepted and the expenditure of time and food for the trip would be for naught. It actually makes sense to provide a way, right at the temple, to buy a pre-approved animal to sacrifice.
In truth, we have no historical evidence or citations that would prove corruption or price gouging in the sale of animals or exchange of money in the temple courts.
There was actually something else going on that morning. Jesus was acting as an Old Testament prophet, staging a protest to momentarily stop the temple system. Why? A disruption and a replacement was being made.
If Jesus was forecasting the end of and replacement of the temple – what are the implications of that as you read it? V19 is a major clue as to what God intends – religious structures both physical and organizational will be replaced by a person. What can it mean to us today, as his followers in 21st century America? How can we prevent our own practice of faith from devolving into consumer ritualism?
This should prove to be a compelling study – hope you can make it!
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