“The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17)
This week my theme (if you have not been aware) is the law and wisdom. Tuesday we looked at verses about the Ten Commandments as God’s efforts to give the Hebrews guidance and direction in being in relationship with God and with others. Wednesday we heard from the writer of 1 Corinthians about foolishness versus worldly wisdom, and which is a better choice to save one’s self and one’s soul. Today, Friday, we are considering Jesus and the clearing of the Temple.
One commentator I read made note of the fact that Jesus did not upset the doves but told those who were selling the doves to take them out of the Temple. This, the commentator stated, should that Jesus was not out to be destructive but to shoo out those animals and people who should not be there. The classic view (in my mind’s eye) of Jesus clearing the Temple is whip flying and things being overturned, just chaos and havoc all over the place. The passage from John supports a calmer and more reasoned approach.
Applying this incident in Jesus’ life I would say this is a good metaphor for law versus wisdom. The law said that sacrifices, rather than being from one’s own resources and brought from home, could be purchased. And what better way to accommodate that then to have items for sale right in the Temple, close by and convenient (with a convenience fee added in of course). Wisdom says, however, the Temple is for prayer and worship, not commerce and prophet. And it is a sincere, willing and contrite heart and spirit that is the better sacrifice.
“The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” (Verses 18-22)
When you function under that law, you define and understand things literally, placing importance on possession and material items. But when you value and prize wisdom, you see the world differently. You realize being literally mind is not always the best way to understand spiritual issues. Wisdom comes when you are open to a variety of understandings and test these with the revelation of the Divine. During this season of Lent may you broaden your understandings and gain wisdom. Selah!