Read: John 2
“Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (John 2:17, NLT)
I have always enjoyed this story of Jesus cleansing the temple. I love the robust image it paints of him. It stands in stark contrast to most of the historical paintings as well as the more recent images we get from the portrayal of Jesus by filmmakers. For some reason, artists from the Renaissance on up to this very day have given us a feminized Jesus—soft, tender, doe-eyed, almost porcelain-like.
That is not the Jesus of John 2:13-16 (NLT),
It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
Jesus doesn’t appear all that soft in this encounter, does he? I’d say he opened up a can of comeuppance on these merchants of religion, and no one dared stop him. Go down to your local Saturday Market and do that, and see what happens. People typically don’t take too kindly to having their economic systems so abruptly disrupted.
Jesus was different. He was right—and people knew it. His anger was one of righteous indignation and holy zeal for the House of the Lord. This kind of house cleaning was long overdue, and if they didn’t overtly cheer him on, inside the worshipers were secretly applauding.
Now as much as we enjoy this story, it really is incomplete if we don’t fast-forward to our time and ask how Jesus would respond if he walked into our church today. How much zeal would Jesus express for his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the church? How much holy fire and righteous indignation would he display for that which he suffered and died to redeem? You see, in the new economy of the Kingdom of God, the church has replaced the temple as the dwelling place of God in the earth. Of course, that refers more to a people than a place—yet both people and place are the church. What would Jesus see in your church—in you, in your brothers and sisters in the local community of Christ, and in the activities that take place in your church building? I have a sense that each, both people of worship and places of worship, are due for a little divine house cleaning.
Here’s what I would suggest: How about we get started before the Lord of the church has to show up and do it for us!
“Learn to break your own will. Be zealous against yourself.” ~Thomas A` Kempis
What If God Took Over?
May I suggest that you pray this prayer: “Lord, fill my belly with zeal for your house. Let it consume me as it did you. Zeal not only for the physical house in which your people gather, but also in this house made up of body, soul and spirit, in which your Spirit dwells.”