It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. He said to the dove sellers, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it is written, Passion for your house consumes me.
Then the Jewish leaders asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things? What miraculous sign will you show us?”
Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up.”
The Jewish leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” But the temple Jesus was talking about was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered what he had said, and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not cleanse the Temple. At best, he disrupted the daily operations for a time. But the next day, all of the sellers and buyers were back. So what’s going on? What was the point?
I think there are a couple of things here. First, yes, there is the bit about the Temple and Jesus’ body. It’s a confrontation between the Religious Institution and The Way. No longer would people “go” somewhere to find the Eternal One. The Eternal One would now be with us. Within us. And we in the Eternal One.
It’s also a confrontation about two ways of seeing; of being. In one, others are in charge of our connection with the Divine. They determine what we should bring, how we should look, what we should say, what offerings are acceptable, etc. The other says simply that we are all that is needed. Just willing participants. Someone to say, “Here I am.”
Like so many things, the Empirical Religious Institution started out well enough. But, as time went on, it forgot it’s vocation - to point people to G_d. It forgot that it wasn’t “it.” It was only a pointer. A sign. A shadow of the coming things, not the things themselves. The buyers and sellers and currency exchangers - the business of the Religious Institution - were just the outer sign of the deeper corruption. At a place where people were supposed to be accepted before the Eternal One, rules were put in place to keep people out and to make the “keepers of the sacred” wealthy.
Jesus appearance on the scene was a sign pointing to the ultimate showdown between those Institutions and following The Way - the way of Christ, the way of self-sacrificial love. As he told the woman at the well,
Believe this: a new day is coming—in fact, it’s already here—when the importance will not be placed on the time and place of worship but on the truthful hearts of worshipers...The Father is spirit, and He is seeking followers whose worship is sourced in truth and deeply spiritual as well. Regardless of whether you are in Jerusalem or on this mountain, if you do not seek the Father, then you do not worship.
As we continue to move through the Lenten season, let’s remember that. Let’s not forget that “going to church” is not it. That our “tithe” is not what matters. Our relationship with the Eternal One must be “sourced in truth and deeply spiritual.” If it is not, let us repent and cast it out like Jesus did those in the Temple.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC