Lent 3b – Sunday 11th March 2012
John 2: 13-22
A Musical Motif Part 3…
Have you ever been hated or discriminated against?
I have; I’ve been protested and demonstrated against
Picket signs for my wicked rhymes, look at the times
Sick as the mind of the kid that’s behind all this commotion
Look at me now; I bet ya probably sick of me now ain’t you momma?
I’m a make you look so ridiculous now
The words of Eminem’s hit song ‘Cleanin out my closet’. People often regard rap music as the ugliest form of music. Not sure I’d agree, but there you have it.
Week three of Lent and we have one of the ugliest passages in scripture.
Now there’s a way to start my blog this week!
But, yes, I do mean it. This is one of the ugliest, scariest, hardest and mean passages in scripture. Why? Because it has justified the righteous action of religious people ever since.
War? This supports it. Keep Sunday special? This supports it. Break a strike? This supports it. Prejudiced behaviour? This supports it. Against rap music? This supports it.
In fact, for those who like life to be black and white this is one of their favourite passages. Now I’m a man who likes a bit of colour to brighten the journey. When I got up this morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The sky was a wonderful shade of blue, the sun shining brightly, the hills looking green and lush, flowers in purples and white pushing through the soil. But boy was it cold. The beauty of the day is balanced against the coldness of the frost. And isn’t life like that? It’s full of paradoxes. It’s random. There’s 1001 vagaries. And those are the colours, the blues, greens, purples, reds, blacks, pinks, vermilions, browns and greys that make up life.
For the people of Israel the temple was the house of God. It housed the Ark of the Covenant. It was where people worshipped God. There wasn’t multiple places to go and worship God – just pop down the road to your local temple. God’s presence was in the temple, in Jerusalem. It was black and white. And then Jesus comes along and claims to be that temple – 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.” – Jesus says he is the temple, he is the place where the presence of God resides among his people, not some building, nor some box or crate. And once again life is lit up with hints of yellows and greens. And so to defile that place – with loan sharks and dove merchants – with wars and oppression – is to defile him.
So, perhaps Jesus was cleaning out his closet – if you don’t mind me calling the Temple a closet! And here, in John’s gospel we see the practical, dynamic action of God. Not something to be copied or claimed. Never something to justify our actions. But a visible, magnificent, colourful display of just how passionate God is for his world and its people. He hates to see injustice in his world, it destroys him when there is anger, hatred and selfishness, he is enraged to see power used to oppress and bully people.
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.
Just waiting for the penny to drop.