Hallwood Ecumenical Parish
Bethesda, Palace Fields & St. Mark’s, Beechwood
Church of England – Methodist – United Reformed Church
7 March 2021
Only a couple of months after we have been singing carols about baby Jesus, no crying he makes, being the ultimate example of mild, obedient, and good, we have this week’s revolutionary upheaval at the hands of an angry Jesus. He cries out in frustration at the crass commercialisation that had befallen the Temple under the burden of the laws and rules governing Temple sacrifices.
This story serves as a perfect antidote to images of Jesus that portray him as the passive weakling getting sand kicked in his face. This story also helps us to understand why Jesus made enemies as well as friends.
In John’s gospel we find this incident placed right at the start of the story, just following the wedding banquet in Cana. It is a rich contrast between partygoing Jesus ensuring that the wine keeps flowing, and the regime-toppling Jesus who whipped up a frenzy in the courts of the Temple. This was an act of shocking disobedience towards the powerful rulers of the Temple, even if at the same time an act of great obedience to the justice and truth of his Father, whatever the cost to himself.
John, no doubt, places this powerful story so early in his gospel because he wants to give a clear indication right from the beginning that Jesus’ Way would replace what people had known. Just as Jesus overturned tradition with the good wine served last in Cana, so he overturns the tables in the Temple. The world is changing by the acts of Jesus, but in doing so, Jesus reveals the way the world is supposed to be.
Where law shackles and binds people unnecessarily, and in order to maintain a system of abusive power, then love comes to turn it on its head!
Rev’d Ian Smith