“The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables” (John 2:13-14). Animal sacrifice was an accepted and vital part of temple worship, for which worshipers made a monetary offering. The moneychangers in the temple precinct exchanged coins with imperial or pagan images for legal Tyrian coinage. On the surface, nothing is wrong or out of order. This incident perhaps stands as a reminder that, under the calm surface of right religion, there can be a torrent of corruption.
How much profit did the moneychangers make in the transaction? Jesus said that “my Father’s house” has become a “house of market.” And did the religion to which Jesus belonged forget that the Temple was to be “a house of prayer for all people” (Isa. 56:7)? Amid questions we cannot answer, we have the firm promise of a New Temple raised up after three days, the temple of the body of Jesus, of which we are members and living stones.
The body of Jesus is constructed of a human nature, humanity generally and individually. He is a Jew who is first and foremost a human being like all other human beings. His body is universal, his human nature universal, and his divinity inexhaustible. He is the temple of the universe. He is everywhere and at all times “in my Father’s house.”
“The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Jesus was among us and still is, though not merely as one of us. He is among us as the temple once torn down and restored. “Destroy this temple,” Jesus said, “and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Risen, the temple of his body bore the wounds of his passion and death. Resurrection is not, therefore, a simple reversal, but an assumption of all that Jesus suffered and endured, all that humans everywhere have suffered and endured, and the evil done one to another — an eternal victory over evil by the forgiveness of the Father.
The cross is scandalous and foolish. Is it not a curse, is it not ridicule, torture, and rejection: Is it not everything from which we want to be saved? Is it not death? The body of Jesus is a cross. “Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your loving arms on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace” (Morning Prayer, p. 101). His loving embrace and his wounds are a world without end. The last word for his executioners is a plea for forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
It is impossible to look at Jesus without seeing what we have done. For all the goodness of human beings, there is no denying our propensity for what is vile and violent, vicious and cruel, narrow and petty. All our worst fell upon him. He was betrayed, falsely condemned, tortured in soul and body, hung out to die. The work of human beings!
Risen from the dead, Jesus looks out upon a guilty world, a world fallen and frantic, a world steeped in violence, and he says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Jesus is the scandal of forgiveness, and forgiveness is nothing less than the impossibility of resurrection from the dead.
Look It Up: Exodus 20:2
Think About It: Your God has delivered you from sin and death.