Lectionary Year B
March 26, 2000
Step VI: Contemporary Address
(JFC) A. AUDIENCE
This text's sermon would preach quite relevantly, most challengingly and
somewhat comfortingly in one of my former pastorates. It is a nice large congregation in the center of a large city that is stable and hardly deteriorating at all. Of course, the members of this congregation come from all over the metropolitan area, especially from the most affluent neighborhoods. In every way, the people in those pews are well educated and well placed in the society of the state university, the local governments and the most profitable industries. Recently, however, it might seem that some of their programs and personnel have taken on a "circus like" atmosphere. A re-centering of Christ and his Gospel could re-anchor this fine congregation's mission and ministries in the Gospel we read in this week's lesson.
(JFC) B. INTENDED GOALS
We try to declare from this text how God's goodness is paramount to us who
seek to grow in the faith all our days, even and especially these very challenging days when materialism reigns above most other values.
(JFC) C. ADDRESS
Did you learn as a child that today's Gospel lesson tells of Jesus' anger? I did. However, upon further study of this passage, we discover the word "anger" is missing from the text. None of the Gospels says Jesus got angry. Furthermore, several ecditors have atte,mpted to soften the image of the so-called whip he made. Some think he used it only as a symbol rather than as a weapon or even to signal a threat. True, Jesus might well have been angry. However, just as true, the Bible remains silent on that subject. So, then, we might still wonder just what our Lord is doing that day in that Temple in Jerusalem. Let's see.
I. God's Actions
A. In Jesus' Deeds, symbolically or what?
Most noticeably he cleared the Temple of distasteful abominations, e. g., the cattle,
the sheep and the doves as well as the money changers. They are inappropriately in the Temple in Jesus' estimation. Barrett says these "actions (subsequently) recall Old Testament Scriptures." They also stimulate at least curiosity if not usurpation of authority by Jesus over Old Testament and Jewish tradition at least in Jerusalem and during Passover. Here, Jesus is doing what God purposes. Here, he begins fulfilling the Jewish expectation of a Messiah, though they are slow to catch on. Are we?
B. In Jesus' Words
1. To the merchants and money changers
He gives them their walking papers. He throws them out. Their business in the
Temple seems inappropriate to Jesus. "My Father's House is not a marketplace." Matthew's Gospel calls it a "House of Prayer for all nations" rather than a "den of robbers". The merchants there might not have been breaking the law, yet Jesus tells them to cease and desist doing their business in the Temple at Passover time, at least.
2. To the Jews
He tries to set them straight on what the Temple represents, God's presence. If
anyone desecrates the Temple, He'll re-establish it aright shortly and/or he will reveal how his body, and, eventually? the Church as the Body of Christ on earth today, will replace the edifice in Jerusalem.
II. Our Reactions
A. Belief in Scripture
They believed in (Old Testament) Scripture, perhaps especially, Psalm 69:9 and
Zechariah 14:21. We might also believe in Scriptural references to the Resurrection (John 20:9, Luke 24:25-27, 40-46, Mathew 26:54, Acts 2:29-32, I Corinthians 15:4, Mark 14:21) as Hoskyns & Davey cite in their Commentary.
B. Belief in Jesus, especially his Words
His reference to the Temple constituting a reference to his body, on its way to
passion and death, as Lent leads us to consider devotionally.
Jesus Christ is real, really risen and represents God's goodness and grace.
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