(for the Third Sunday in Lent, March 8, 2015)
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. (John 2:13-22, NRSV).
It must have been a disturbing sight for Jesus. God’s temple full of stock. The sound. The smell. Raised voices offering better deals. Exchanging money. Passover in the temple.
Jesus response is calculated. It takes time to weave a ‘whip of chords’. Perhaps he sat watching as his platted. Maybe he left. Practiced. Returned.
Either way, Jesus is found wielding his homemade weapon. Beasts begin to move. Attention is drawn to the mighty sound. Crack! Crack!
People scatter. Jesus pushes tables. Coins fly. Human and beast struggle to escape. Dust rises. Chaos.
And all the time Jesus yells: ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ He is passionate, mad, enraged. A bursting anger built since his arrival in Jerusalem.
The disciples appear to merely look on. Perhaps they are somewhat stunned. Do they share his rage? Do they join in? Are they keeping their distance? Whatever they are doing, their minds are engaged. They remember: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ Descriptive, revealing words: ‘zeal’, ‘consume’.
Of course the Jews seek an explanation. They receive, however, a prophecy: ‘destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ A pointer to a future Passover.
It is lost to them. Indeed this whole event seems lost to everyone – disciple, many-changer, religious leader.
No one understands until ‘after he was raised from the dead’. Even then it is exclusively the disciples. They only see as they look from one mystifying passover to another.
And the outcome for them is priceless: faith. They are coming to trust the zealous, whip wielding, and death-defying, saviour of the world.