John 2:13-22, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 – Third Sunday in Lent
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According to John, Jesus begins his ministry by showing more than telling. In the temple, Jesus disrupts and overturns the systems of corruption and ultimately points us to the promise of restoration. In 1Corinthians, Paul reminds the Corinthians and us that God’s wisdom is more expansive than we can imagine.
As you imagine the scene in today’s gospel reading, it describes the temple during a time of preparation. Jews travelled to Jerusalem early in order to purify themselves, to be prepared for Passover (John 11:55). It’s just as the season of Lent helps us, Christians, prepare for Easter. We, Christians also practice meditation, prayer, and participate in worship throughout Lent to repent and recommit ourselves to God.
Today’s text follows Jesus’ first sign in Cana, where he turned water into the wine at his mother’s request. Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem because of Passover and, like other pilgrims, he comes to the temple. And he sees that merchants bustle among their animals, moneychangers busily exchange coins, and pilgrims perusing the stalls, bartering with the tradespeople and seeking priests to complete sacrificial rituals. Moneychangers exchanged denarii into half-shekels so pilgrims could pay the temple-tax, while animals were offered
in sacrifices for ritual purity from daily life so they could participate fully in the Passover. They seem busy with all the things to do and get ready. However, rather than praising those gathered, Jesus goes into a rage. Creating his own whip, Jesus chases out the animals, sending the merchants after them. He pours out the coins and turns over tables and the seated moneychangers scattered. He commands the dove-sellers: “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market place!” (v. 16). Jesus turns the temple court into a chaos of frightened animals and shouting merchants. When his stunned audience asks for a sign to authorize his violent actions, Jesus says, “Destroy this temple. And in three days I will raise it up.”