January 10, 2005

Marjorie on Temple Cleansing

Tired of a greasy, grimy temple? Well, just try our new wipes....
Whoops, slipped into a domestic rapture there.

Things are moving a bit fast, here, Jesus just turned water into wine and now he's cleaning up the temple. From my studies, I've learned the basics that what is going on here is that sacrificial animals are being sold at the temple and the merchants are price gouging. I've been told that there was a lot of corruption in this practice -- pilgrims were often told that the animals they brought from home were defective and therefore below standards for sacrifice but that they could buy these animals for sale. I've also been told that the animals being sold at the temple may have been defective themselves, so the merchants were adding insult to injury. The Old Testament (Leviticus and Deuteronomy, I believe) goes on at length about what animals are to be sacrificed for which sins and all sacrifices are to be without blemish. So offering a defective animal as a sacrifice to God is very bad. All of this, of course, points to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, who is without sin (i.e. defect).

I'm sort of enthralled by Jesus' outrage -- I can relate to his anger and I admire his take-charge attitude. The study I took emphasized the righteousness of Jesus' actions, that even his anger is righteous -- they have to do this, because anger is generally viewed as a sin and Jesus is free from sin. Actually, I wonder to what degree we impute anger to this. Jesus may have been perfectly calm and peaceful as he make a whip of cords and overturned tables. I don't know. Anyone who has a problem with Jesus acting this way probably also has big problems with most of the Old Testament. It doesn't trouble me. In many ways I can relate to Jesus cleansing the temple more than his crucifixion, which seems a bit passive-aggressive to me (we can get into that more when we get to those passages).

The passage continues with Jesus' statement prophesizing his death and resurrection, but of course, no one understands. How frustrating it must have been to be Jesus, at least viewed from his humanity. The statement is made, apparently, as a confirmation for his believers, to be understood at a future time.

Finally, Jesus knows us, he knows our hearts. He does not trust those who profess to believe in him because he knows our hearts. Why, even one of his most ardent disciples will deny him three times. Can you imagine the kind of love that leads you to sacrifice your very life for those whom you don't trust?


At 8:02 a.m., Blogger david said...

Wow! You jumped in there quick like.

I hadn't thought of price gouging as such. Or the issue of defective sacrifices.

What I saw was the Leviticus law giving special provisions for poor people who could not afford sacrifices and then being met at the temple gates with the requirement to but your sacrifice!

And tehn there's the money changer business. You gotta pay the temple fees with Jewish money not Roman coin but there's a service charge for making change.

When you hook that up to Jesus' confab with the Samaratan woman I saw Jesus ending temple worship altogether here.

At 10:15 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

I agree with David's comment about Jesus ending Temple worship. Jesus totally impeached the corrupt religious establishment of his day (Borg and Wink referred to it as the domination system). Unfortunately it has a thousand lives.

When Christianity came to the fore in the 4th century, a similar "corrupt religious establishment" came with it. The same sort of tricks and chicanery that Jesus deplored in Jerusalem came to life in Rome.

Since then we have seen these domination systems in cahoots with temporal authority and using worldly methods. Read all about it in my History of Christianity.

At 10:18 a.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

I had to make up for being late. Did I miss calling the disciples? Sorry.

Well, who knows if the history I've learned is accurate, but its theoretically possible, I suppose.

Interesting, an end to temple worship...I was considering that Jesus doesn't spend much of his ministry teaching at the temple, some, but not all. Could be for various reasons, he really couldn't since he was fringe. Anyway, it certainly points out corruption in church. I suppose it might be an alert that not everything that goes on at church/temple/meeting is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord and we shouldn't assume that it is, just because its affiliated with church.

At 11:27 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

You said:
"sacrifice your very life for those whom you don't trust?"
Trust is only a matter of degree. Have you ever known anyone whom you trusted completely?

At 11:56 a.m., Blogger david said...

er right Marjorie. I skipped it without meaning to. I'll post it next.


At 1:13 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Great insights, Marjorie! Yeah, David, can we still do the meeting of Jesus with his first disciples?

At 1:37 p.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

Larry, I have met people I trust completely -- my parents. Perhaps I'm really lucky. Actually, I trust my husband completely as well. Maybe I am too trusting, but I'd say that I feel very trusting (not complete, but I have no reason to distrust any of you either) in all the friends I have here on this blog, as well.


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