Tuesday, February 27
Scripture: John 2:13-22
Our scripture this week is one that stands out among the other stories we hear about Jesus’ life. We often see Jesus as a mild-mannered teacher, speaking in parables, or performing miracles. Rarely do we see Jesus lose his cool and take obvious action! This must be serious! But let’s look at what made Jesus so angry.
Considering the historical context. Passover was a huge, week-long celebration that took place every year at the temple in Jerusalem. All Jewish males were expected to make a pilgrimage to the temple. Visitors were required to pay a temple tax and provide a sacrifice. Of course the temple tax had to be in local currency and animals had to be healthy. To aid in fulfilling these requirements there were money changers and vendors set up in the Court of Gentiles on the temple grounds. This all may seem pretty reasonable on the surface. The visitors had made long journeys from places with different currency. Perhaps their animals had gotten sick or lost along the way. The money changers were a greedy bunch and would take advantage of visitors by charging steep fees for currency exchange. There were so many other vendors that the Court of Gentiles was terribly overcrowded. It was hardly a good environment to prepare one for worship. As a Jewish man himself, the necessity of these “services” surely was clear to Jesus, but his anger grew as he saw how out of hand things had become. The focus was no longer on worshipping God. The focus was now on commerce and profit. These people had completely lost sight of what this week was all about!
We no longer make annual pilgrimages to make sacrifices to atone for our sins. We don’t have to pay a tax or change our currencies to enter the church. Nor do we pass through a busy marketplace before we enter our place of worship. But what can we learn from Jesus’ anger in this situation? What is our intent in coming to our place of worship and being part of a Christian community? The church can offer a lot of opportunities. Friendships, social events, networking, career opportunities – all of these things seem innocent enough and we all have no doubt benefitted from at least one of them in some way. The caution we must take is to not let these activities overshadow, or become our primary purpose, for being involved in the church. There may not be any tables to overturn or animals to drive out, but we must make an effort to keep our focus on what Jesus wants for his followers – to worship and praise the Heavenly Father!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, during this Lenten season, help us to examine the ways we have strayed from worship. Forgive us for losing sight of why we long to be a part of a faithful Christian community. Bring our focus back to you and to your Son Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he made for our sins.
– Natalie Carson