This week we have the telling of Jesus entering the Temple and overturning the tables of the merchants there. Now, you might think that this story is really early and doesn’t happen until Holy Week, but in the Gospel of John it happens as the second sign pointing to the glory of Jesus, and therefore very early in Jesus’ ministry.
There is a lot we can talk about and explore with this story. What does it tell us and how does it help us today? That’s a question I bring to every Sunday morning and hopefully I get at least some of the way towards answering it. This story of Jesus overturning the tables give us an insight into a Jesus we don’t often read about or talk about.
The gospel talks of Jesus’ zeal for the house of God. In other words, his passion or ardour for the Temple, the place where God was believed to reside. According to John it is the fact that the Temple had become a marketplace that drove Jesus to his actions, not that it had become a den of thieves as presented in the other gospel tellings of this event. It would be usual to assume that a marketplace is set up for profit and convenience, not necessarily to rob people of their money – though that can happen. We’ll explore this idea of marketplace and what it can tell us more on Sunday morning. This event at the Temple shows us that Jesus could get angry. The fact that he used a whip of cords has a certain amount of violence in that action.
The picture we are given here is one of confusion and chaos. Yes, I think we can assume that Jesus was angry. We know that Jesus pointed out injustice and discrimination whenever he came across it, and that he was not concerned about doing or saying things to look good. He was not afraid to call power into line. This is what he was doing here.
This is a challenge for us, as Christ followers. If we are called to do as Christ did, how easy is it for us to call power into line? To stand with those less fortunate, those who don’t have a voice, those whose treatment is being ignored or hidden. One of the injustices that has been pointed out to power this last week has been the plight of the refugee men held in detention in the quarantine hotel that Novak Djokovic was taken to. We need to allow our passion for our fellow humans to rise to the surface and be shown.
In the coming weeks we celebrate Australia Day. The UCA, in solidarity with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress who are our Indigenous members, believe that we should take time to recognise that Australia Day is not looked upon as a day of celebration by all. They call for a recognition of this fact with a day of sorrow, not on Australia Day but usually the Sunday prior to it.
This week we will use some of the liturgy that has been written for the Day of Mourning 2022 as we remember that Jesus also stood up, not quietly, for injustices that had been happening around him as well as those in the past. Jay