Sunday 7 March 2021

Temple Times


‘Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money-changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market.’ Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.’

JOHN 2:13-23


The TV programme ‘Through the Keyhole’ has, in recent years, been comically sabotaged by Keith Lemon. Back in the day, when it first emerged, we had the likes of Lloyd Grossman and David Frost which, while entertaining, lacked the anarchy of the current reincarnation, although the familiar punchline remains as celebrities try to guess from clues, “Who would live in a house like this?”

For the Jewish people, the Temple of Jerusalem on the holy mount was the place where God dwelt, the holist of holies, the shrine of the Ark of the Covenant which had been with them in their desert days, a constant assurance that God was with them. No matter what our religious beliefs, we’re all aware of special places that perhaps demand a little more respect and attention than other places. Not just spiritual places of religious significance but places that deserve to be honoured in some way whether its’s a memorial of some kind, an ancient site, or a place made special by a former famous person.

So, when Jesus discovers that this special place is being disrespected by some, he drives them out using a whip of cords. Jesus is asked to explain himself, and tries to turn their attention to him, although his words at the time are lost on them. Even his disciples miss the point – only in retrospect, after the Resurrection, do his words make sense. In cleansing the Temple of unsavoury practices, he predicts his own death and resurrection. As the Temple drew people to the presence of God, so Jesus is the Temple of God, the holy of holies, the one in whom we encounter God. He is, as St Paul says, the Power and Wisdom of God.


God our Father, your Power and Wisdom is revealed in Christ who has come to live among us. Help us to reveal his life and life to others. . Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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