John 2:13-22 (The Message)
Tear Down This Temple . . .
When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus traveled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves. The loan sharks were also there in full strength. Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” That’s when his disciples remembered the Scripture, “Zeal for your house consumes me.” But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?” Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.” They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.
I was reading a few commentaries on this passage as I just wanted to make sure that what I was thinking was along the same lines. Nowadays, we have this view of jesus as maybe being, well, quite vanilla. We have diluted the character of Jesus and we may do that to appease ourselves. Although we have unconditional love and we are so precious in His eyes, we seem to have forgotten the reverence and the power of Jesus. He is powerful, he is not passive aggressive, will not shy away from a situation that is just wrong and is not afraid to say it.
Can you imagine what he felt when He saw what was happening in the temple? Sure, we may think, people aren’t doing anything REALLY wrong and it wasn’t the worst thing in the world after all, they were allowed to sell items for sacrifice. The difference was they were perhaps making a profit from this and lets not forget that there were loansharks here too. They were out for themselves and forgot that there are some things that are sacred. The temple had been tarnished, people had forgotten the real reason for the temple and that it was a holy place and a safe place for people and now it was a place of a new God; consumerism.
This was a significant festival that people would travel to to celebrate passover. Were they devout in their faith and possibly thought that because of that they were ‘entitled’ to use the building to make a profit?. Where were the priests? Why did they allow the people to sell for profit in the temple? So many questions!
Perhaps the loansharks were not as devout as others, maybe they needed extra money for their families. Can we say? Well Jesus did and he was protective of not only the temple but the meaning and what passover meant. He wanted everyone to understand the real meaning of passover.
I sometimes feel like we don’t understand the magnitude of the various events in the Christian calendar and therefore it doesn’t have much of an impact. We really have diluted our faith and it seems to have gone from a vibrant colourful spectrum to a dull grey monotone colour. It’s as if there is no depth.
I think I need Jesus to shout at me (in the kind, loving way He would do) and tell me to wake up, to make me — make us — become aware of all the things we have forgotten that deserve reverence.
At the end, there is this hope. The temple which was once a building is now Jesus. It now has taken a new dimension. What was once a place where men could only go, ritual was imperative, has now become human. It has become tangible. It has become human.
There are consequences to our actions and when we forget the depth of holy and sacred we only live to a certain level of depth. It’s not bad, its just not the full spectrum of colour.
Have we taken something sacred and tried to gain some profit from it? Is our compass a little off and the things that we think are ok, are actually stopping us from experiencing real depth.
Susie Keegan is a creative, a font nerd, a graphic designer and the Diocesan Youth Officer for the Dublin Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough. Use ‘Comic Sans’ in the wrong context and you’ll feel her wrath! Being an author on this blog has really pushed her comfort zone and she is very happy to be part of this community.