Long Story, Short
March 9, 2012
Did you follow the story of the Occupy movement over the last several months? Protesters occupied public places in demonstration against large corporations and the global financial systems that seemingly control the world’s economy – leaving power to only a few (the 1 percenter's), and nothing but powerlessness to the 99% of us.
The world of Jesus and his disciples is essentially the same when we come across them in John 2. The 99% were powerless. Romans occupied his homeland and were doing business with the priesthood for political rest. Israel had become – yet again – a key military point in the supply line to dominate distant regions of land. And the worst of it was that Israel’s people, the ones to whom Jesus belonged and with whom Jesus most closely sympathized, were being sold out by the religious leaders to the political system.
By the time Jesus walked into the temple that day in the middle of the Passover season, it was clear to him that the temple had become a shell of its former glory. Instead of being a holy place, its core identity and function had gone missing. It had become a shopping mall, a bank, and a government building all rolled into one.
All his righteous anger seethed. It fumed. It boiled over. His pressure relief valve triggered and he exploded. Jesus makes a whip and from cords in a fit of anger begins driving the people out of the temple like he’s driving cattle. Imagine the sweat, the tears of rage, his furrowed brow. It’s animated for us in children’s Sunday School pictures with the title “Jesus cleanses the temple.” It says that in the heading of some of your Bibles, too.
It’s an appropriate word for what happened. It’s an appropriate word for the season of Lent when we think about forgiveness of sins and how we experience cleansing in confession, cleansing that is only found through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
Like a good spring-cleaning from top to bottom, Jesus cleanses the temple. He’s dusting out the cobwebs of a musty old religious system, as we’ll soon see. He’s decrying the elite priests, he’s calling out the Roman occupiers. Jesus conducted a “Occupy Jerusalem” protest of his own because he wanted to cleanse the temple of its consumerism, politicization, and the power plays of the elite priests and ruling class. Jesus occupied the temple in anticipation of his final protest site, the place where his purpose would become clear and his work decisive: Jesus was heading to “Occupy Calvary.”
Join us this week for worship to discover why Jesus occupied Jersalem and Calvary. The answer is so close to home it may surprise you. John 2.13-22 is the focal passage, so read it at home and bring your Bible to church. We gather for worship at 10:30 am and Bible study is at 9:15 am. Don't forget the clocks move ahead one hour this Satuday night!
See you Sunday,