John 2:13–22 (NRSV)
Verse 13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Verse 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Verse 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. Verse 16He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" Verse 17His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." Verse 18The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Verse 19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Verse 20The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" Verse 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. Verse 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
Today we read the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple. Note that the Gospel of John places this story at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It follows immediately after the story of Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana. In that story Jesus shows God’s abundance and joy. Now in today’s reading Jesus enters the Temple in Jerusalem. This place was supposed to be the reflection of God’s abundance and joy—to be a light for the nations. Instead, Jesus found the Temple full of greedy merchants who exploited the weak to make a profit.
Jesus must have felt like David when he wrote Psalm 19. He is surrounded by people who have forgotten God’s words of Law and Promise. Jesus knew that the Temple had to be cleansed if it would ever be able to reflect God’s light to the world.
God of Promise, search our hearts today. Help us to see the ways that we are like those merchants in the Temple. Drive out the things in our hearts that dull the light of your love for the world. Amen.