A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary – THIRD Sunday

 A completely over-the-top personal chapel in what is now a large monastery at Melk, Austria. The artwork is glorious, yet somehow the very grandeur of the place seems off-putting and out of synch with 
the simple power of the gospel message.

John 2:13-22, Today’s New International Version

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
 
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
 
They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

_______

Did you catch the location of this passage? Gospel of John – chapter TWO.

Every other gospel has this episode located at the beginning of Holy Week, very late in the life and ministry of Jesus.
But John – ever the contrarian – puts this narrative at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry life, as a ‘kick-off’ event of sorts.

And what better way to start your life as a rabbi than to thoroughly tick off all the influential religious people in the Holy City? You know the ones I mean – the guys with the clout – the ones who could make or break you as a spiritual leader?

Well, tick them off he does. He clears the place of all the fuss and mess of folks offering their thoroughly inappropriate best-buys-in-sacrifical-animals. And he makes no bones about it, either: Stop this. Get this stuff outta here.

The mightily offended scribes and Pharisees pull their prayer shawls ever so closely and ask – what right, what authority have you to do this dastardly deed?

And basically, Jesus answers with a riddle. A riddle they do not understand – and I’m pretty certain Jesus knew they would not understand, they could not understand. Even those who were closest to him didn’t understand until much, much later.

John’s portrait of Jesus is dripping with theological insight, with glimpses of the confidence, acceptance and resolution with which Jesus embraced his life and his death. And right here, the hope of the resurrection begins lacing its way in and around the narrative – right from the very beginning of the book. 

Yes! Even as we wander our way through these 40 days and 6 Sundays of wilderness travel, let us never lose sight of that gaping hole in the earth! 

Because…
     It is the resurrection that makes our faith vibrate. 
     It is the resurrection that promises us a forever future. 
     It is the resurrection that anchors us all – 
          suspicious-religious-types, 
          feckless-disciple-types, 
          21st-century-struggler types. 
     It is the resurrection that anchors us all in 
          hope fulfilled, 
               promises kept, 
                    healing and wholeness and salvation delivered. 

_______ 

Resurrected Christ, Great Heart and Hope of our universe, even as we wrestle with our own weakness, doubt, lack of understanding, dogmatism, addiction to forms and shadows rather than the simple Truth – point us to the empty tomb as well as the cross, remind us that you are LORD as well as friend, that you hate hypocrisy as well as love little children. Help us to see all of who you are – or at least as much ‘all’ as you think we can handle. Amen.



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