John 2: 13-25
When the Passover Feast, celebrated each spring by the Jews, was about to take place, Jesus travelled up to Jerusalem. He found the Temple teeming with people selling cattle and sheep and doves.
The loan sharks were also there in full strength.
Jesus put together a whip out of strips of leather and chased them out of the Temple, stampeding the sheep and cattle, upending the tables of the loan sharks, spilling coins left and right. He told the dove merchants, “Get your things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a shopping mall!” That’s when his disciples remembered the Scripture, “Zeal for your house consumes me.”
But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?” Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.”
They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.
During the time he was in Jerusalem, those days of the Passover Feast, many people noticed the signs he was displaying and, seeing they pointed straight to God, entrusted their lives to him. But Jesus didn’t entrust his life to them. He knew them inside and out, knew how untrustworthy they were. He didn’t need any help in seeing right through them.
The odd thing about this part of the Gospel – this incident when Jesus (Jesus!) seemingly loses it – human maybe but hardly divine – is how very vindicated we can feel about it – that if Jesus can lose his temper then it is ok to lose mine.
It is permissible for the market sellers and money-changers to trade in the Temple. People are required to make sacrifice; to pay tithes and offerings. Sacrifices and tithes have to meet the customs of the community; the purity laws; the tradition.
The traders are breaking no laws; it is simply supply and demand. How better to do this than within the Temple itself? There may be some profit involved and money does ‘talk’ – even ‘pray’ – but it is for the common good.
Jesus does not believe in the common good; it is not for the common good that he forgives the woman caught in adultery; heals the lepers or makes disciples out of tax collectors, and widows. It is not for the common good that he blesses the meek, the grieving and the merciful; it is not why he stands with those who have been rejected.
It is not for the common good – it is for the Good that is his Father.