Thursday, March 1
Scripture: John 2:13-22
Many Jews expected the Messiah to lead an armed rebellion against the Roman Empire and the Jewish authorities who helped that empire. Jesus, instead, taught his followers to love God, to love their enemies, and to turn the other cheek when wronged.
As this passage illustrates, these peaceful principles do not preclude less violent resistance to oppressive powers. In a display of righteous indignation, Jesus drove merchants and money changers from the temple courts with a whip. What violation inspired this anger? “Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
I believe that Jesus’ objection to turning the temple into a market goes beyond indignation at the sacrilege involved. Elsewhere in the gospels, Jesus made clear that justice is an element of loving one’s neighbor. He also consistently portrayed the pursuit of money and power as a barrier to justice and to serving God.
The Jews coming to Jerusalem to honor God in the temple needed animals for ritual sacrifice and money for contributions. The merchants and money changers exploited their piety for financial profit. Jesus’ indignation against both the sacrilege and the exploitation flows directly from gospel teachings on justice and care for the poor and lowly.
Further, Jesus’ actions should remind us that acting from love may require active resistance to injustice.
Prayer: Lord, help us to discern injustice in ourselves and in our society and lead us in seeking loving and respectful ways to seek justice and to resist injustice.
– Sara Ann Ketchum