MARCH 7. LENT. WK. 3. SUN. JN. 2. 13-25
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.
During his stay in Jerusalem for the Passover many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he gave, but Jesus knew them all and did not trust himself to them; he never needed evidence about any man; he could tell what a man had in him.
What we see in this Gospel reading is the legitimate anger of Jesus at the disrespect being shown towards the Temple of God; - a place set aside for divine worship. In examining this situation however, rather than looking at the actions of Christ, the focus should be on the actions of those who were using the Temple for their own purposes!
Jesus articulated the problem when he said; - “Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market”; - a situation he addressed by driving the traders out of the Temple. It must be remembered why the Temple came to be built; - was a sign to God’s People during Old Testament times, that God was with them; - so it was an extremely sacred place to which the people made pilgrimages for divine worship.
But it had been turned into a market, to serve the interests of business men and leaders!
What Christ was doing in driving the traders out, was he was bearing witness to the fact he was the Messiah who had been forecast by the Prophets for centuries, something it was essential he bear witness to; - that he was “The Son of God”.
The Jewish leaders had obviously recognised this claim that Jesus was making, so they asked him for “a sign”; - “What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?”
Jesus then replied to their question with the correct answer, but they lacked the understanding necessary to appreciate “the sign” he had given them; - “Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.”
It is interesting to note that, while the Jewish leaders could not “see” the ultimate sign Jesus had given them, we are told this was not the case for many of the observers; - “many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he gave!”
What this Gospel reading is teaching us is the importance and need of Faith in order to see and understand the Wisdom of the Gospels and the teachings of Christ; - the traders and the Jewish leaders were focused on their own interests while many others ‘received the message!’