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Anger and Justice



13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, with the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 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. (John 2:13-22 (NRSVUE)


Is anger ever called for?


The Jews were no doubt angry that Jesus drove out the money changers and told the people selling doves to take them out of the Temple, and they scoffed at his words: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

 

·         It took 18,000 workers to build the temple.

·         Mammoth stones were used to make the walls and foundations.

·         Cedar beams and great marble columns supported the roof.

·         Around the central building were 13 gates.

·         The bronze Nicanor Gate required 20 men to open.

                   facts about herod's temple - Search (bing.com)


This enormous temple was a place of pilgrimage for many Jews who had no money and no power, but on one of their high holy days, Passover, thousands gathered to continue their ancestral worship of God in the ways prescribed by its ancient literature. It established the biblical sacrificial system and was the dominant pattern of worship for the entire Second Temple period that lasted for approximately 600 years.


Not surprising the Jews were furious with Jesus, especially those making money at the expense of innocent people. But none of them understood that Jesus was talking metaphorically about the temple of his body. They were stuck in their thinking that God needed to be “fed” when it was they who needed to be fed and to change.


Jesus saw ordinary people being extorted for money to buy the animals that they had to sacrifice to win God’s favor. And it angered Jesus as it always did to see people being wrongly used for profit. His righteous anger was motivated by his sense of justice and love for the people, and he wasn’t going to stand for it.


Have you ever been bullied? When I was about ten years old, I used to ride my bicycle along Dartmouth Road in London that passed a block of County Council Flats which were like Section 8 housing. A big girl used to run after me and knock me off my bike. This happened several times, but one day a little girl, smaller than me, raced out of those flats and challenged this big girl and ran her off. I don’t remember her using anything except threats and her sense of justice. I bet she grew up to be an activist, or a lawyer for civil rights, or a physician who joined Doctors without Borders.


Once Jesus was raised from the dead, his disciples understood that he’d been talking about the temple of his body. What a marvelous revelation to learn that Jesus was the final sacrifice and though the orthodox understanding that Jesus died to save us from our sins is relevant, especially to ancient Jewish people, it is surely also a message to us about the power of God’s justice over Jesus’ horrific murder. Injustice is never acceptable, but it won’t prevail. Jesus arose from the dead. And we will too.


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