Read John 2:13-22
Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right.
~verse 15 (The Message)
This scripture is filled with tension, violence, and anger. Jesus challenges the authority of the religious leaders and the status quo. When I read this, I asked myself: “How am I going to write a devotional about this? I don’t know what it means.” What is the cultural significance of moneychangers and livestock in the temple marketplace? What is the connection of the temple and Jesus’ resurrection? Why did Jesus become violent, when he preached about nonviolence? While researching this, I found that I was not alone. The interpretation of this scripture is debated among many scholars. But what many scholars do agree upon is that this scripture is about reformation and symbolism. It was a symbol of the end of the old covenant and the beginning of the new, with Jesus himself as the new temple. This was one of the great transformations in the history of religion.
The relevance of this story is important to our Christian beliefs. It is about Jesus reforming a broken system of beliefs. Jesus lashed out at a religious system with many distractions from a clear focus on God. Instead, Jesus replaced the old, broken system with teachings of love, tolerance, social justice, hope, peace, compassion, and righteousness. He focused on the important things in our relationship with our Father.
When life is filled with tension and distractions, I like to think about an important message Jesus gave us. This is what really matters in our faith journey and what keeps us focused on what to do:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
~ Mark 12: 30-31 (King James Version)
Prayer: Passionate God, thank you for sending your Son to remind us of the true purpose of our lives — to love you and your people. As we journey together in faith, help us to be open to your transformation. Fill our hearts and our lives with your love, tolerance, justice, hope, peace, compassion, and righteousness. Amen.