March 11, 2012 Year B – Third Sunday in Lent: John 2:13-22

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 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. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 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.

Summary:  The temple was central to Israelite life.  At the time this was the meeting place of God and His people.  And greed is only one way God’s people can corrupt even the most holy of human activities.  Christ was not against worship in the temple, He was after all going to Jerusalem in celebration of Passover (vv13-14).  Instead, Christ’s zeal was for the purity of worship in the temple.  Of course, it wasn’t until he rose from the dead that the disciples began to fully understanding the larger implications of God’s presence in that human temple:  the God-man Jesus.

Insight:  Many hypocritical thoughts, actions and emotions plague our lives as Christians.  Such anxieties follow us into corporate worship as well.  We want to be zealous for the Lord’s house;  And when we gather in the presence of the one true God, we are also naturally concerned that our worship be just as true.  As a result of the incarnation, Jesus is the one obedient and faithful worshiper of God.  Both the book of Romans and of Hebrews emphasize that it was his perfect sacrifice and worship that allows us to worship with a good conscience; and that because it is Christ’s Spirit within us.  This is why Paul speaks of our body’s also being a temple.  Isn’t it exciting and scary to know that God is especially present with each of us?  Yet, it is God who graciously affects and reforms us, transforming you and I, and making us anew (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).  Though our bodies won’t be completely new until that final resurrection (Phil. 1:6); this is still all the more reason to appreciate and yet disciple our physical-ness during this season of Lent.

Child Catechism:  What temple did Jesus destroy and raise up again?  His physical body, which is the greatest temple:  the presence of God fully and yet fully human.

Discussion:  What are some ways we can take care of this bodily temple?  Is it possible to abuse and misdirect our passion for God?

Father,

You know our frame;  You know we are but dust;  Show us compassion.  Treat us as sons in your household, teaching us proper zeal and leading us by you Spirit and in Christ’s name.  Amen.

[Contributed by Malcolm West]

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