Blog 6 John 2:12-22

Creating space for God – removing the junk.

You probably need to know that I am trying to tell you things not just by the stories I include in this gospel but by where I choose to put them. And that’s particularly so this week. What a party Cana was! What amazing grace Jesus brought us – Paul was right when he talked about knowing the ‘length breadth height and depth’[1] of his love. But I told it and put it where I did[2] because I want you to know what is available from this Jesus.

And for the same reason I have placed this story of the ‘cleansing of the temple’ right beside it.[3] I came to see that if the Jews were to receive what Jesus brought they needed to clear out the temple, the sacrificial animals, the corrupt money-changing racket, everything that got in the way of true worship. The temple will not be a place of trade![4] It is to be a house of prayer.[5]

The authorities were incensed but also intrigued. They did not arrest him or have him thrown out – there was an implicit sense of their acknowledgement of him as a prophet who was to be questioned as to ‘why’ and on ’whose authority’ he acted.  All of us were amazed that they did not take action – and yet in a funny way we also understood – you just wouldn’t with Jesus.

But then he turned the discussion round – pointing at the magnificent temple Herod had started 46 years before[6], he promised that if they destroyed it he would build it again in three days.[7] Thy laughed and scoffed – but then neither they nor we caught on at that time – he was referring to his own body, the ultimate sacrifice, the temple which would be the object of true worship from then on.  But after the resurrection, then we knew.

If you or your church want to know the fullness of Christ’s love, then what do you need to clear out of your temple? What is keeping you from the worship that offers your whole self ‘as a living sacrifice, pleasing and acceptable to God’?[8]

What is preventing your congregation from being a house of prayer, a place of refuge for sinners and a dwelling place for God’s Spirit?

Worth thinking about isn’t it? That’s why I put this story here.

[1] Ephesians 3:14-21

[2] John is the only writer to tell this story. We need to remember that all the gospel writers made choices about what to include – three years of stories would have filled multiple volumes see John 21:24.

[3] The other three gospel writers place this story at the beginning of the last week of Christ’s life either on the Sunday evening or Monday morning. It is seen as ‘the last straw’ as far as the authorities were concerned. Some commentators try to resolve the problem by proposing two ‘clearings of the temple’ but this is improbable.  The other gospel writers place all the Galilean stories first and the Judean ones second therefore this even could not be at this point. John however has a full three year chronology and multiple comings and going to Jerusalem from Galilee which on the face of it make more sense of the growing opposition to his ministry in Jerusalem. But it is impossible to be sure if John’s placing of the story is correct or that of the Synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke). Probably,but not certainly, the latter. The point is John chose to put it here to make a point!

[4] Almost certainly there is reference here to Zechariah 14:21 and possibly Malachi 3:1-3.

[5] Interestingly John omits this phrase which occurs in the Synoptic accounts

[6] Herod the Great began the second temple around 19 BC; it was not finished until 63AD (though the vast majority of it would have been finished by this point). It was of course completely destroyed in 70AD when the Romans besieged Jerusalem and put down the Jewish revolt.

[7] This is in fact one of the charges laid against him at his trial see Mark 14:58 and also look at Mark 15:29.

[8] Romans 12:2