Jesus is in the temple and he means business – his Father’s business. He’s come to proclaim the new covenant, even though he knows it will cost him his life. But Jesus is not a go-along-get-along guy. For openers, he won’t preach the good news surrounded by the commercial corruption that has come to permeate the house of the Lord. So he overturns counters, dumps the cash drawers and drives the merchants and their livestock from the temple. Jesus is all about love. But his love is consistently obedient to the Father. The prophets had foretold about Jesus that: Zeal for (God’s) house will consume (him.)
It seems straight forward enough, ‘til we realize that once again Jesus is operating on more than one level. The temple that he says will be destroyed and rebuilt is a direct reference to his own approaching sacrificial death and resurrection. And indirectly he tells us that if we are to live in the house of the Lord, we have to do it with reverence and respect.
It is useful to stop and consider that the people he drove from the temple are the very same people he came to save. The people who questioned his legitimacy and authority are the same people he would soon lay down his life for. Jesus loves us all. He knows us all. He died for us all: in our sins, in our arrogance, in our cruelty, in our stupidity. Jesus does not love us for whom we ought to be or for whom we want to be. He loves us as we are -- in our falls and in our resurrections.
Jesus wants us to live in and for his love. To do that, like Jesus, we have some serious cleaning up to do. Paul tells us: Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1Cor 3:16.) Lent is set aside for each of us to give our temples a really thorough spring cleaning. Hopefully we’re spiritually sprucing up all year round. But Lent is reserved for the heavy-duty jobs – the rigorous personal inventory: What significant opportunities do we have to witness Christ’s love? What obstacles exist? What weaknesses can we isolate and eliminate? What strengths can we build on? What about our relationships: family, neighbors, co-workers? What are our priorities? How do we spend our time?
This isn’t a complete list. But it’s a good start. Tackle your own spiritual spring cleaning list. It will make your life neater, healthier, happier. Roll up your sleeves and pitch in. If you ask him, Jesus will lend a hand – throwing out the guilt, polishing up the joy, making room for love. Spring cleaning with Jesus – that’s what Lent is for.
God love you!
JESUS MAFA. Jesus drives out the merchants, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48271 [retrieved March 6, 2012].