Summary: Gentle Jesus meek and mild - who are you kidding!!
St. Mary and St. John’s Cowley 26-03-00
John 2: 13-25: Jesus clears the Temple
This morning’s Gospel reading blows a hole in our comfortable view of "Gentle Jesus meek and mild.". He was anything else but meek and mild
We see Jesus clearing the moneychangers out of the Temple. We read in verse 15 how he made a whip of chords to drive them out and said:
"How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market".
Why was Jesus so violent?
I was always taught that being angry and using force is wrong. But is that correct?.
Can you imagine Jesus getting anywhere by going up to the moneylenders and saying:
"Excuse me, fellows this is not meant to be a house of merchandise. Would you mind closing up shop and moving on!"
No, he would have been laughed out of court. It needed firmer action.
I don’t believe Jesus was out of control but the moneychangers needed firm encouragement to leave.
I believe that Jesus shows us that there are occassions when we can be angry. And there are times when we have to take physical action.
Story: I have the utmost respect for Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Liberal theologian who felt that Hitler was so evil that he had to join the conspiracy to kill Hitler - and was executed for his part in the July 1944 plot. He prayed about whether he should take part and felt that God was calling him to join the conspirators.
1. Misuse of the Temple
Why was Jesus so angry? What they were doing was no worse than the Roman soldiers who taxed the people exhorbitantly. So why didn’t Jesus go and sort them out.
Or was it?
I think Jesus’ anger was directed at the hypocrisy of those who called themselves God’s people. People, who professed to love God and yet were living a contary lifestyle.
The Temple should have been a place
1. where people could come to commune with God,
2.to learn from the teachers of the Law of how God expected them to live (for example living out the Ten Commandments that Joe read to us in our Old Testament reading this morning) and
3. to bring their sacrifices for their sins.
What had it become. A rip off zone
1. You weren’t allowed to sacrifice unless you bought your animal or bird from the sellers in the Temple Courtyard.
2. You could not use everyday money to purchase the bird or animal, you had to buy with Temple money.
The pilgrim was being doubly ripped off -
1. once with the exchange rate and
2. secondly with the exorbitant prices
required for sacrificial animals.
Jesus’ anger was directed at the Temple Officials because they claimed to be God’s people yet they were acting no differently to the people of the world.
I believe there is a time to stand up and be counted.
Each one of us will find that place where he or she says in the words of Martin Luther:
Here I stand, I can do no other
Jesus stood up to the Temple authorities and it eventually his life. In this passage form John we see Jesus alluding to his impending death and resurrection in John 2:19 & 20.
"Destroy this Temple (meaning his own body) and I will raise it again in three days.
He realised that this collision course was going end with his death and resurrection, because he knew God’s purpose for his life.
Jesus summed it up well when he said in Luke 16:13
No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
The Temple Officials loved money so much that they served it rather than God, yet gave to impression to the outside world that they were serving God.
Story: When God called me into the ministry I had a very well paid job as a patent lawyer. I was Head of a Department in a multinational, Reckitt and Colman. I struggled with the call particularly as I was worried if I could survive on such a low salary.
In the end I knew that God was asking the question: Which master will I serve?
In contrast to the Temple authorities’ attitude Jesus asks his disciples in Matt 6: Why do you worry about what you will wear or what you will eat or what you will drink. For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
"But seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you as well." (v.33)
That is a challenge to us all.
2.The True use of the Temple