Third Sunday of Lent

Christ Driving the Money changers from the Temple by Theodoor Rombouts

 

As the days are gradually becoming lighter, in many households it is a time for spring cleaning!

 

Today we have arrived at the third Sunday of Lent and our Gospel reading from John 2:13-22 has this as part of its theme. It is the account of Jesus entering the temple courtyard where he found money changers, and traders selling cattle, sheep and doves. This was allowed by the temple authorities since the animals were for Jews coming to make sacrificial offerings, indeed Mary and Joseph would have come thirty years earlier with their firstborn for the act of purification. We know that since only temple money could be used, the normal currency had to be changed but it is likely that the traders and money changers were taking advantage of their privileged position. However whatever may have been permitted, these practices and their location within the temple enclosure were clearly not God’s intention. The Jews asked Jesus “What sign can you show us for doing these things?” and he replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. They were astounded by this reply. “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” they retort! But as John explains, Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body.

 

The passage concludes, “When therefore 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.”

 

In John’s account, unlike those of the Synoptic writers, Jesus doesn’t say: “It’s a house of prayer.” And he doesn’t say they are “robbers.” Instead he focuses on the misuse of the temple court…..”Do not make my Father’s house a house of trade or a marketplace.” When the disciples saw how Jesus was filled with anger they would no doubt have connected it with Psalm 69 where King David says, “Zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.” And so it is clear that John is particularly keen to make his readers aware of the importance of worshiping and knowing God the Father, and of respecting and treasuring without question that relationship which their Lord and Saviour had sanctified and demonstrated by his actions.

 

John may also have been referencing the prophecy in Malachi, that the messenger of the Lord would suddenly come into his temple like a refiner's fire. There would be a replacement of the old order with the new.

 

Heavenly Father, help me to recognize you when your time comes and may the inner courts of my life be ready for you. Amen

 

Rev John Hillier

 

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