He rebuilds the brokenness
Bible reading John 2:13-22
During Lent we are looking at what these lectionary readings reveal to us about the fulfilment of God’s promises in Jesus. Our Gospel reading takes us to Passover time – a time for the Jewish people full of messianic promise and expectation which for many, including Jesus here, included a visit into Jerusalem and to the temple itself. Jerusalem as with the whole of the 1st Century Israel was under Roman Occupation. This meant that the coins in usage would have been Roman coins and, so as not to desecrate the temple with the coins bearing the image of the Roman Emperor, a coin exchange was developed at the entrance to the temple and it is here where Jesus enters and upturns the tables of the money changers. What was behind this outburst then? The money needed to be exchanged and it was not unreasonable for people to need to purchase doves and animals for sacrifices and worship.
The temple and sacrificial system speaks of the promise of God’s Holy presence with his sinful people. The problem is, that the place they were selling and exchanging money was likely to be in the court of Gentiles. This was the only space in the temple complex that non-Jews could enter to pray and seek God. In doing this they were excluding people from the Temple and therefore God’s presence. When we go right back to God’s first promise to Abraham God says “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; …..and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Gen 12: 2-3
It is as if the 1st Century Jewish establishment had forgotten the small print in the covenant contract – that God would bless ALL PEOPLE through them – the promise was never just for the Jewish nation but for the whole world.
Jesus, rightly, sees the injustice and is enraged – not with mindless violence but with the irreverence to God’s Holiness. The main thing therefore that this passage teaches us is that God is Holy and we are not and we, therefore, cannot just approach him however we want. Sometimes we can treat God as if he is at our beck and call. However, God cares passionately that we do approach him and the whole temple system was a foreshadow of the true sacrificial system and temple which Jesus makes possible. The only way to come to God is through Jesus. Jesus, later says this John 14:6 – I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me. There are no other religions, no other ‘lights’ or forms of enlightenment, no other ways to get to God, to know God – other than the way God has created which is in Jesus and really importantly – this is for everyone – woe betides us if we keep this to ourselves or clutter up our sharing of the Good news with stuff that prevents people coming to God through Jesus.
This lent are there things that have got in the way of our worship that we need to clear out so that we might again find the way of Jesus the way of life and peace?
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first, he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Beautiful Saviour, Wonderful Counsellor, Clothed in majesty, Lord of history, You’re the Way, the Truth, the Life. Star of the Morning, glorious in holiness, You’re the Risen One, heaven’s champion and You reign, You reign over all.
I will trust in the cross of my Redeemer,
I will sing of the blood that never fails;
Of sins forgiven, of conscience cleansed,
Of death defeated and life without end.