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John 2:13-25, Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Sunday, January 21

A Passionate Jesus

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

The placement of this cleansing story in John is one of many characteristics that sets John apart from the other three gospels. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this story happens near the end of Jesus’ ministry – his teachings and miracles all building up to a fiery climax. But in John, his fit of anger as he overturns the temple marketplace is the first public thing he does. He wastes no time setting straight the people God has chosen as God’s own. John’s Jesus is neither passive nor gentle. He comes with fire and passion right out of the gate.

Israel had a long history of sliding away from God’s will, and then suffering the consequences of their actions by exile or occupation. By Jesus’ day they were occupied by Rome. Truthfully, all of humanity has had a long history of turning laws and rules that were once good and healthy for all people into policies of enslavement, control, or oppression. By the time of the Reformation, the Christian church had done the same – they had twisted God’s laws into terrible devices of torture and oppression. Over and over again humanity takes what is pure and good and turns it into something ugly and disgusting.

But time and time again God turns what people have destroyed into something wonderful and beautiful. Jesus’ destruction of the marketplace on the surface might seem corrosive, but it was in fact a movement toward freeing the oppressed and poor. They would no longer need to spend what little they had to appease a seemingly angry God. Jesus helped them (and us) to see that God is a loving, forgiving, passionate and zealous God that needs no more than our love and loyalty.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 2:13-25

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 market-place!’ 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.

Earlier Event: January 20
Psalm 104:31-35
Later Event: January 22
Psalm 127:1-2