We all want change, but we want it on our terms. The leaders of the Temple do not condemn Jesus outright for pushing the salespeople and money changers out from the courts. Instead, they ask, “Who gave you the authority to do this?” (AP). That is one of the most frustrating things about living in a group. Whether as a religious community or in a family, we often want some things to change; but we allow the things we dislike to go on for years and years without taking the initiative to make changes because we fear the responsibility.
These teachers of the law had grown complacent, letting their own house of worship become a market. They failed to recognize that these sellers and money changers were probably taking advantage of the people they were supposed to assist. Is that acceptable in a worship space? Jesus comes to reclaim that space and says he does so out of a passion for God’s house. If he were to perform a miraculous sign to prove his authority, they think, no one could blame them for his actions. It may seem brave for them to be so bold in asking for such a big request from Jesus, but they asked it out of fear for their own sakes.
We fear change because we fear who may be upset by those changes. We ask for signs and messages from God even when the answer is right in front of us. How can we be braver people of God, especially in our places of worship? What do we fear in living more fully as God’s people, and how can we avoid waiting around for God to prove to us what needs to be done?
Merciful God, forgive us when we make excuses to avoid change. Help us to know your still, small voice so that we do not get caught up waiting for a sign. Amen.
As we continue in the season of Lent, we remember another important chapter in salvation history. Just as God established covenants with Noah and Abraham and their descendants, so did God renew the relationship with the Israelites by giving them the law. Obedience to the law was not the means of earning God’s love, but a response of love by the people to the love God had already shown them. The psalmist understands that God’s law creates a cause for rejoicing, for it is more valuable than gold. Both Paul and John address situations in which some had distorted the worship of God. Either they considered themselves too good for the gospel (1 Corinthians), or they had violated the covenant by altering proper worship for the sake of profit (John).
Read Exodus 20:1-17. How do you keep God as the central focus of your life? What draws you away from that focus?
Read Psalm 19. In what ways do you experience God’s laws as “sweeter . . . than honey”? When do you find yourself trying to resist God’s laws?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. What does it mean to you that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom”?
Read John 2:13-22. How do you respond to Jesus’ anger and actions in this reading? Do his actions fit with the way you generally picture Jesus?
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