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FAITH: Offering a Lent challenge

Brad McKenzie

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” John 2:13-22 ESV

This account of actions Jesus took in the Temple are mentioned in each of the Gospels.

One interesting point is the account in John is mentioned at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry where the other accounts bring it at the end, closer to his crucifixion.

As well, in John’s account, Jesus does not mention His house is to be a house of prayer as do the other three gospels.

Some think this may point to there being two separate times Jesus cleansed the temple. Regardless, we see here his seriousness for the sacred space, the focus of worship, and the access of the commoner to the presence of God!

When most of us think about Jesus, our normal vision or feeling is one of the gentle shepherd, loving savior, or the long haired, bearded white man in the classic picture. Although I too view him as the gentle shepherd and loving savior, I have thoughts that he was rugged and tough as well. Why does this make any difference? Well, it shows us the multi-faceted Jesus who encapsulated all of humanity.

It is interesting in this description how the disciples remembered Psalm 69:9- “zeal for your house will consume me!”

We should expect Jesus to have a passion for worshiping God and a passion for His Father’s house as well.

Oh, how I long to have the zeal and passion for the things of God like Jesus does. Oh how I long to be more and more like the Savior!

So, then Jesus is confronted by the Jewish leaders basically asking Him what right He had to cleanse the Temple. He answers with a statement which caused confusion and I assume some sarcasm.

Jesus said, if this Temple is destroyed, I will build it back in just three short days.

The Greek word He used for destroy is λύω, which is in my opinion better translated as, “do away with!” This is a better translation because Jesus is actually referring to His body and not the physical Temple.

Another aspect is the Greek language used here has to do with the usage of the word for temple. Specifically, Jesus cleansed the outer court of the Temple, but the word used, ἱερόν, which means not just the courtyard, but the entire area, including the sanctuary and holy of holies.

Jesus was cleaning not just the outside, which was what the sacrificial system did, but the inside as well, which is what He does to us when He comes into our life!

All of this word study helps us to understand how Jesus was always pointing to His death and resurrection as well as transformation for those who would believe upon Him.

The Jews were going to try to do away with Jesus, and for a few days it would seem they did, but after three days He was going to wake up and everything would be different for the rest of history.

As we continue through the season of Lent, would like to challenge all of us to find ways to help make the lives of others better. This week is going to be pay it forward week! Find ways to help someone as someone has helped you. Maybe pay for someone’s meal in a restaurant who is by themselves and stay anonymous. Maybe pay for the person behind in line at Chic Fil A, or maybe just find a way to encourage someone who may be having a tough week.

Whatever you do, do it with passion and zeal for the things of Jesus!

You are Valued and Loved, Pastor Brad

Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.