07 January 2010

Jesus is a Temple

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 marketplace!” 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.
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.   John 2:12-25

Gee. Here's something different. This account of Jesus confounds those who see Jesus as the ethereal, gentle, soft-spoken, nonviolent speaker of wise sayings and healer of the lame, doesn't it? And, he does this twice! What made Jesus so angry? He says why he is taking these actions both times.

"How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" and "It is written, 'My house will be a house of prayer for all nations', but you have made it a 'den of robbers.'"

Apparently there was a noisy stall set up within the outer "Gentile (Non-Jews)" courts of the temple as a service for all travelers to purchase the necessary livestock and currency used in the various rituals of the temple. Not only did this make a lot of noise but those manning the booths made sure a nice profit was made from these travelers' need.

Jesus was enraged by this. Jesus makes it clear that what was going on was incompatible with the desire His Father had for His temple to be 'a house of prayer for all nations' (Mark 11:17/Is 56:7). The noise and the profiteering was an obstacle for people wishing to worship in the presence of the Lord not a service.

The Jews who were probably stunned at this audacious act asked Jesus what gave him the right to meddle in the affairs of the temple. He then, unknowingly to them, refers to himself as a temple. Jesus himself was filled with the Spirit of God and brought the presence of God to whoever he was present.

When Jesus was crucified, the curtain within the inner temple was torn. This symbolises the end of only one person being able to come where God resided. Now, it is clear through the teachings of Jesus, the apostles and the early church that all disciples of Christ are God's temples and each of us have the Spirit of God and that the presence of God is among us when we gather together as His church.

We must be sure that each of us as disciples and collectively as the church never engage in practices that would block or make it harder for anyone wishing to come before our Father in prayer. Through the grace of God, each of us have been given the extraordinary opportunity through Jesus to approach God as our Father no matter what our culture, nationality, gender, background, income, position, etc... The church must always proclaim to everyone through our deeds and words this good news.

Again we see early on in his ministry that he knew he would be killed and raised on the third day.And, this resurrection would give him authority.

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