Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Another Clue

Read John 2:13-22

Every politician has said it, "Give me a broom and send me to (the capital, the schools, the prisons, the diocese, the denomination) and I will clean house!" And, if truth be known, most of us have wanted to do the same thing at one time or another (especially if we are parents of teenagers with messy rooms!).

In this story, Jesus does exactly this - he takes a "broom" (a whip) and drives out all the animals and their sellers, the money-changers, the peddlers. And we stand and applaud him, because he is going to not only drive all these folks and their wares out of the church, but he is going to take the church back to the good ol' days when things were clean, neat, simple.

However, it appears that what John is doing with this story is not giving us a return to the past story, but another clue or two about the mystery of Jesus that he is unraveling in his gospel.

Note when this event takes place - it was almost time for the Passover. The great, High Holy day of the liberation of the people of God from slavery in Egypt. This is the moment Jesus chooses to cleanse the Temple. And he does so, according to John, to give new meaning to this event. A new liberation is about to take place, a new slavery is about to be cast off, a new Day (the third day) is about to dawn. Remember, John has already pronounced Jesus to be the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Now, the Lamb is ready to lead the people of God - all of God's people - into the promised land of the kingdom where death and sin have no power.

Certainly, Jesus views the Temple and its cultic rituals, its buying and selling, its rampant materialism as corrupt. More importantly, a new Temple is being built before the eyes of the people, not out of stone and mortar, with marble and gold in-lay. But out of flesh that will be scourged and blood that will be spilled at the cross. A Temple not built by the hands of humans, but a Temple carved out of the dust of creation, filled with the transforming breath of the Spirit, and the place, the true place, where God's glory resides - in the One proclaimed as God's very own Beloved.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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