Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A series of expositions on John the Apostle Pt.4

“Stop turning my Fathers house into a market!”

The party in Cana concludes and Jesus and his disciples leave and walk sixteen miles to Capernaum where they rest with his mother and brothers for a few days. Young John was no doubt keeping his eyes tightly bound to this teacher now waiting for another incredible work like the one he had done in Cana. I can imagine a lively conversation with lots of questions as they reclined in Capernaum.
The Passover is to begin and Jesus takes his disciples and heads out on an eighty-five mile hike to Jerusalem.
The temperature during the day would have been in the seventies to eighties and at night in the mid to high forties. There exist rough paths and roads that they would have likely taken to make the walking easier but such a walk still would’ve taken three to four days or more. Surely many teachings and moments of close fellowship were shared during these long treks.
The disciples don’t know it yet but they’re Lord is about to make a public announcement in a very public place and he couldn’t have chosen a more public time.
Herod had begun work on the temple in 20 B.C. and had been ongoing for forty-six years when Jesus came this day with his disciples, which would have made it 27 A.D. Every adult male within a fifteen mile radius was required to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover in order to pay the temple tax. Gentile coinage was accepted at a much depreciated rate and the exchange would cost the gentile a day’s wages more than that of the Jew.
Then the spotless sacrificial animals available for sale were priced at an incredibly inflated rate. Herod had created a gentile court by the placement of colonnades outside the temple. He had signs posted warning anyone that was not a Jew not to enter the inner courts and to do so meant death for that person. Rome had given the Jews permission to execute anyone that violated this law. So the gentile court was where the gentiles were to worship, it was their church, their sanctuary and this was the place the Jews had chosen to set up a market for the sale of these highly priced sacrificial animals, and where they exchanged the gentile currency for the temple currency, again for a much depreciated rate.
Picture a flea market or fair type of environment, the smell and the sound of livestock, vendors shouting and announcing the goods they had for sale, haggling going on over price, meanwhile we can imagine somewhere among the chaos a small group trying desperately to worship, to give their annual sacrifice, be cleansed of their sins and spend time their in solitude at Gods great temple. Imagine this taking place inside the sanctuary of your church as your time of prayer begins. This is the scene Jesus walks into as he comes into the court that day with his disciples in tow.

I can imagine Jesus walking about looking for the cords and young John wondering what it is he is looking for and possible the disciples offering there help in his search if he will only tell them what he wants. After all, this scene was of no surprise to the disciples and it could be argued that even Jesus had seen this before but today was different, today it was his time.
Finishing his whip he begins shouting as he turns the tables of coins over and thrusts the whip at the animals. “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
Surely great fear and confusion mounted in John’s mind wondering what would come of this from the Jewish officials.
I think we can sometimes go too far in thinking that Jesus was lost in a rage here in this scene because we as humans are familiar with that kind of loss of control but we must remember that while the Christ is a man he is also God and I for one believe this to be a very deliberate and controlled act of his disapproval and wrath, not a man that has been given over to rage like we would be.
John’s Gospel does not specify who specifically who asked “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this” but it was likely the Pharisees. Why did they not just drag him off and jail him for trial?

I think this scene and the lack of action on the part of these officials gives us a glimpse into the persona of Christ and the knowledge, wisdom, and certain authority that flowed from him. In some way something about him spoke to them telling them this is not only a man.
“Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days!” Jesus tells them. How this must have echoed in John’s mind for the remainder of his life. It was quite possibly the first occasion the Lord had predicted his death and resurrection. He calls himself “the temple” because he is to be the new temple indestructible and everlasting that will be given to all so that no man can any longer hold it for ransom and use it to oppress the lost that come to seek the Father. Satin’s days are numbered…

As we first come to Jesus having lived a worldly life for many years our hearts and our souls are filled with the stench of worldly desires and sounds of selfish lies being announced. The love of money and self exaltation has filled our inner temple; a place now meant for the Lord to dwell has been filled with the lies and deceit of the world.

As we walk through we view our perversions, our prejudices, and our pride. We here the salesmen calling to us that happiness will be found in that next promotion at work, in that new car we will finally be able to afford, in a new sexual conquest, on that pornographic website, in a that chemical that gets us high but these are sales pitches we’ve heard and explored numerous times and we have found them wholly unsatisfying, destructive and leaving us only thirsty for more, we just want these distractions gone now, we finally want our temple cleared and through the chaos and confusion of our worldly desires and Satin’s sales pitch we look toward the entrance of the courtyard as if we already know who stands their. He has been waiting there a long while now. As we invite him in the voices of salesmen grow softer and softer until they cannot be heard at all. As He walks through the markets of pride, ego, and perversions they disintegrate into ashes and are blown away, as He approaches the alter of our temple all grows quiet and the temple has grown vacant of anything not of Him the Christ. Now we know satisfaction, now we know completeness, now we can worship what we were created to worship and we can do it in a clean temple!