John 2:13-25 NRSVue
13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, with the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After 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.
23When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. 24But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to testify about anyone, for he himself knew what was in everyone.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
What was it that roused Jesus? fury? Not just that money changed hands and animals were sold for sacrifice in the Temple; but the fact that the merchants were selling animals at a far higher price in the Temple than would be paid outside, and changing money at a rate that brought undue profit to the money-changers. The hucksters and money-changers were profiteering from people's piety, exercising a kind of monopoly that battened on the good will of the worshippers. Trade had taken over from prayer.
Lord, when I look at First Communion outfits, Christening and Confirmation parties, and the manic expenditure on weddings, I feel we need you to come back and purge the worship of God from the distractions of getting and spending. Your anger spelled out a message: money and religion are a dangerous mix.
Jesus signed his death warrant when he cast commerce out of the temple. He stood up for the truth about God and about religion and the poor, as the business people of the temple were exploiting the poor with high prices. Lent gives us new insights into how Jesus lived his life, always within the shadow of his death. Even this scene at the start of the gospel has us remembering that this would lead him to death and to glory. The glory of God here is Jesus fully alive to the exploitation of the poor, the mistreatment of the house of God, and fully alive to the faith that was beginning to grow in his disciples.
Our prayer today might remember all who suffer and are endangered in their commitment to justice and right religion.