Lent 3 – Echunga and Mt Barker
Ex. 20.1-17, 1 Cor. 1.22-25, Jn. 2.13-25
This week’s readings invite us to consider the radical nature of the gospel that we perhaps too often take for granted, or think of only in the smallest or narrowest terms. A gospel that Paul says is a stumbling block and foolishness to many who look at it from simply a human perspective.
In our gospel reading today Jesus certainly did not let those trading in the Temple courts take anything for granted. In turning over their tables and driving them out he made sure that everyone sat up and paid the proper attention to what he was trying to say about everything that people thought they knew.
In this episode Jesus didn’t simply “cleanse” the Temple as many bibles label the scene; he shut it down completely, as without the ability to buy the proper sacrifices, or to convert your money to the Temple currency, the Temple cult simply ground to a halt.
In effect Jesus did symbolically destroy the Temple that day.
Because, like the many prophets that came before him, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah, to name a few, he was condemning Israel for putting the system that had developed around the Torah, the liberating Law of God, ahead of the heart and soul of that Law which we were reminded about in the first reading.
Indeed it could be said that, just like in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37), the so-called Keepers of the Law had become blinded to needs of those that the Law was designed to help and care for, the poor, the marginalised, the vulnerable.
Instead, those who had acquired positions of power and authority in Israel had become more concerned with the trappings of power, of wealth, and of prestige, and would rather walk on the other side of the road then offer help to the wounded.
They had become exclusive and exclusionary, instead of agents of God’s love for the world, and Jesus was not going to stand for it.
They needed to be shocked, to be snapped out of it, if they could be, and in the actions that followed many were certainly shocked, some even may have been snapped out of their preconceived ideas and notions into a broader and more God given understanding of the way this world could be, if only we would give love its fair chance.
Each of us need to daily allow ourselves to be shocked, shocked by the scandal of the Cross, shocked by the unjust patterns of behaviour that go unchallenged in this world, shocked by the things that perhaps even go unchallenged in our own lives.
As part of a Lent Series of short videos released by Common Grace each week, reflecting on the theme of Jesus and Justice, Brooke Prentice, in this week’s clip, considers how it might feel to be unseen by others, just like the wounded man on the roadside, and how everyone needs to be reminded to see our brothers and sisters clearly, and not pass by on the other side.
As we listen to Brooke’s insights I encourage you to reflect on what it might be that you need to be shocked into seeing more clearly and into understanding more deeply so that you might truly discover the heart of the Law, the heart of God, instead of just going about this world as if it were business as usual.