13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers [a]doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house [b]has eaten Me up.”18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this [c]to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
You are most likely familiar with this passage, but did you know it is speaking both to you and about you personally?
Jesus came to the temple, His Father’s house, which should have been a house of prayer (quoted by Jesus in the other Gospels, Matthew 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19). Instead He found it full of buyers, sellers, and moneychangers. What did He do? He took a significant amount of time to patiently braid a whip of cords, and then forcefully drove them all out of the temple.
We rightly apply this lesson to the sanctuary of our church … but it is so much more!
The Jews asked Jesus for a sign, something to show He had authority over what went on in the temple building. He responded with a sign: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” They naturally assumed He was speaking of the same temple they were, but He was not. He was speaking of the temple of His body, His “person”.
The truth is, both His actions and His words were not just about the temple building but about another temple: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
There were more to Jesus’ words than they understood … and there is more to His actions than we realize. In the same way His words applied to His own person, so His actions apply to us and our own “person”: body, soul, and spirit. We have authority over our temple, and we are called to be like Him, “conformed to His image” (Romans 8:29). Just as He patiently made a whip and drove out all that was unholy from the temple, so we are called in Lent to make a whip of prayer, fasting, and self-denial in order to drive out of our temples – our persons – all that is unholy, that it may be filled with God’s Word and His Presence.
Non nobis Domine+
By: Father Dana Jackson
Rector, Parish of St. Stephen