Tired of a greasy, grimy temple? Well, just try our new wipes….
Whoops, slipped into a domestic rapture there.
Things are moving a bit fast, here, Jesus just turned water into wine and now he’s cleaning up the temple. From my studies, I’ve learned the basics that what is going on here is that sacrificial animals are being sold at the temple and the merchants are price gouging. I’ve been told that there was a lot of corruption in this practice — pilgrims were often told that the animals they brought from home were defective and therefore below standards for sacrifice but that they could buy these animals for sale. I’ve also been told that the animals being sold at the temple may have been defective themselves, so the merchants were adding insult to injury. The Old Testament (Leviticus and Deuteronomy, I believe) goes on at length about what animals are to be sacrificed for which sins and all sacrifices are to be without blemish. So offering a defective animal as a sacrifice to God is very bad. All of this, of course, points to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, who is without sin (i.e. defect).
I’m sort of enthralled by Jesus’ outrage — I can relate to his anger and I admire his take-charge attitude. The study I took emphasized the righteousness of Jesus’ actions, that even his anger is righteous — they have to do this, because anger is generally viewed as a sin and Jesus is free from sin. Actually, I wonder to what degree we impute anger to this. Jesus may have been perfectly calm and peaceful as he make a whip of cords and overturned tables. I don’t know. Anyone who has a problem with Jesus acting this way probably also has big problems with most of the Old Testament. It doesn’t trouble me. In many ways I can relate to Jesus cleansing the temple more than his crucifixion, which seems a bit passive-aggressive to me (we can get into that more when we get to those passages).
The passage continues with Jesus’ statement prophesizing his death and resurrection, but of course, no one understands. How frustrating it must have been to be Jesus, at least viewed from his humanity. The statement is made, apparently, as a confirmation for his believers, to be understood at a future time.
Finally, Jesus knows us, he knows our hearts. He does not trust those who profess to believe in him because he knows our hearts. Why, even one of his most ardent disciples will deny him three times. Can you imagine the kind of love that leads you to sacrifice your very life for those whom you don’t trust?