LEXEGETE™ | YEAR B | MARK
Third Sunday in Lent
March 15, 2009
Psalm 19 (8)
I Corinthians 1:18-25
Prayer of the Day
Holy God, through your Son you have called us to live faithfully and act courageously. Keep us steadfast in your covenant of grace, and teach us the wisdom that comes only through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
We proclaim Christ | crucified,
the power of God and the wis- | dom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23, 24)
Joseph, Guardian of Jesus
March 19, 2009
2 Samuel 7:4, 8-16 Psalm 89:1-29 (2)
Romans 4:13-18 Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Prayer of the Day
O God, from the family of your servant David you raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the husband of his blessed mother. Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
We have a building from God, a house not | made with hands,
eternal | in the heavens. (2 Cor. 5:1)
1. Context: John 2:13-22
Herod began to rebuild the Temple during the 18th year of his reign (20-19 B.C.) and it was not completed until around A.D. 63 or 64. It was destroyed by the troops of Titus, the Roman general, in the year A.D. 70. Since the text indicates that the construction was forty-six years underway, this would place the event of this text around A.D. 27 or 28.
The "Cleansing of the Temple" story occurs in John's Gospel account after the sign at the Wedding in Cana. In the Synoptics, this event is placed during the week of the crucifixion. In all cases, the incident occurs at the time of Passover (the first of three in John's account, while the Synoptics record only one visit to Jerusalem). And only John directly associates the event with the destruction and rebuilding of the Temple.
Both Zechariah and Malachi spoke about the Messianic Age in terms of an entrance into the Temple. "And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day." (Zechariah 14:21b NRSV) "See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." (Malachi 3:1 NRSV) Jesus is the Messianic messenger entering the Temple to cleanse and purify. (Also compare Jeremiah 7:11, the lamenting the profaning of the Temple.)
Matthew and Luke demonstrate that Jesus cleanses the Temple because of the abuse of worship. Mark's emphasis includes the failure to open the Temple to all peoples. (The fact that the money-changing took place in the Court of the Gentiles denied Gentiles the possibility of prayer in that place.) John's focus is the Temple itself, thus emphasizing that Jesus is replacing the "old" with the "new." In John alone does Jesus compare the Temple to his body. The distorted charge of blasphemy concerning the Temple occurs in Matthew's account of Jesus' trial, not John's.
Finally, since John placed this event so early in his account, he probably had a reason. Perhaps that reason is stated most clearly in John 20:31 (NRSV): "... so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God..." By telling the story in his way, it is possible that John is placing this claim up front.
1B. TEXT: JOHN 2: 13-22
13Καὶ ἐγγὺς ἦν τὸ πάσχα τῶν Ἰουδαίων, καὶ ἀνέβη εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ὁ Ἰησοῦς. 14καὶ εὗρεν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τοὺς πωλοῦντας βόας καὶ πρόβατα καὶ περιστερὰς καὶ τοὺς κερματιστὰς καθημένους, 15καὶ ποιήσας φραγέλλιον ἐκ σχοινίων πάντας ἐξέβαλεν ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ, τά τε πρόβατα καὶ τοὺς βόας, καὶ τῶν κολλυβιστῶν ἐξέχεεν τὸ κέρμα καὶ τὰς τραπέζας ἀνέτρεψεν, 16καὶ τοῖς τὰς περιστερὰς πωλοῦσιν εἶπεν, Ἄρατε ταῦτα ἐντεῦθεν, μὴ ποιεῖτε τὸν οἶκον τοῦ πατρός μου οἶκον ἐμπορίου. 17Ἐμνήσθησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι γεγραμμένον ἐστίν, Ὁ ζῆλος τοῦ οἴκου σου καταφάγεταί με. 18ἀπεκρίθησαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Τί σημεῖον δεικνύεις ἡμῖν, ὅτι ταῦτα ποιεῖς; 19ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Λύσατε τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερῶ αὐτόν. 20εἶπαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, Τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος, καὶ σὺ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς αὐτόν; 21ἐκεῖνος δὲ ἔλεγεν περὶ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ. 22ὅτε οὖν ἠγέρθη ἐκ νεκρῶν, ἐμνήσθησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι τοῦτο ἔλεγεν, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν τῇ γραφῇ καὶ τῷ λόγῳ ὃν εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς.
2b. John 2:13-22 (NRSV)
13)The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14)In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
15)Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
16)He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!"
17)His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."
18)The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?"
19)Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
20)The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?"
21) But he was speaking of the temple of his body.
22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
2. ANALYSIS: John 2:13-22
2:13 - pascha - Passover. In the depth of all possible meaning, this is not a mere reference to a specific Jewish Passover in the years of Jesus' ministry. Rather, it is primarily a reference to the Passover of Jesus (death and resurrection -- clearly seen as the text unfolds). As the "old" Passover was the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, now centered in the Jerusalem Temple, the "new" Passover is beginning and will be centered in Christ. In the old Temple, those who were faithful worshiped God by sacrificing animals -- but such butchering would no longer be a part of "Temple worship." The "new" Passover will bring a "new" Temple and therefore new "Temple worship."
2:14 - kermatistes - money changer. Literally this word refers to one who exchanges (cuts into small pieces) large money into small. In the old order this was a necessary Temple task. But not in the new order. A new wholeness is on the horizon.
2:15 - ekballo - bring forth, cast out, drive out, expel, send away. 2:15 - anastrepho - to overturn. These verbs are a summary of the ministry of Jesus -- casting out hypocrisy and overturning the old and bringing in the new.
2:17 - zelos - "zeal." Devotion, allegiance and respect. Jesus had a PASSION, complete zeal, a consuming (even time-consuming) zeal, for God's will. the cleansing of the Temple might be seen, simply, as an outward manifestation of that inner zeal. This zeal will cost Jesus his life, it will consume and destroy (katesthio) him. The remembering of Psalm 69:9a is a messianic interpretation. "It is zeal for your house that has consumed me." Psalms 69:9a (NRSV) The verb, though, has been changed from past to future tense -- an obvious look forward to the events that WILL take place in the life Jesus.
2:18 - semeion - a miracle, sign, token, wonder. There is a clear desire to experience something supernatural. John's emphasis on "semeion," in general, demonstrates that those without faith were simply MISSING the presence of the supernatural. John demonstrated that Jesus' ministry was a "ministry of signs" -- and those who asked for a sign were missing what was clearly right in front of them -- Jesus himself!
2:19 - luo - to break up, destroy. The authorities took Jesus literally; but John makes it clear for us that that interpretation was unwarranted (verse 21).
2:19,22 - egeiro - raise up, awake, lift up. In Mark 14:58, we find the term used is "oikodomeo" meaning to build or construct as a house-builder. (Note that, John uses "oikodomeo" in verse 20, translated "under construction" in the NRSV.) John's use of "egeiro" in both of these verses are a clear indication that Jesus in referring to the Resurrection.
2:20 Note that where Mark wrote: "...and in three days I will build another, not made with hands" (Mark 14:58 NRSV) -- John refers to the same Temple: "I will raise it up." (John 2:20 NRSV)
2:22 - pisteuo - to have faith in, to entrust oneself. 2:22 - logos - the word. John's theology, his purpose for writing, and his desire for his readers is summarized clearly in this verse. (cf. John 20:31)
3. STRATEGY: John 2:13-22
This text provides us with a number of possibilities; but each ought to bring the hearer to a challenge to accept, in faith, the word of Christ -- to accept, in faith, the death and resurrection and all that that means for the life of the believer. The text provides various "springboards" to get to the proclamation.
This text is about the Resurrection breaking into the world. And the transformation is not easy. It takes the crack of a whip! This "CRACK!" however is not merely a judgment on the old; it is a crack of hope, of rebuilding, of resurrection. When John was writing this text, the Temple had been destroyed. One message to the community of believers, then, could have been NOT to yearn for "the good ole' days" when they went up to the Temple at Passover. The focus of faith is now the "NEW" Passover! This theme could be highlighted around a title: "Wise Up, O Saints of God!" or "Cracking the Whip!" For, there are yearnings and longings in our lives that need to be cast out and/or overturned.
A theme such as "Zeal For Your House" of "Consuming Zeal" can focus on our personal relationship with God in Christ. Our attitude towards God is an essential element in this relationship. If we wish to "trade" or "negotiate" with God, our relationship is of the old order. One of the "old prayers" might go like this: "God if you do just this one thing I want, I promise I will..." This is not the relationship Christ has led us into; and it was certainly not the relationship of Christ with the Father. What would "zeal" consist of in my relationship with God? And what zeal would the Holy Spirit shower into my heart in this place, day and time? (Another possible theme is "Nothing To Trade.")
The Temple of Jesus' body will be destroyed; death is inevitable. The popular series "Star Trek" opens with the statement that "space" in the final frontier. An approach centering on death could carry the title: "Death: The Final Frontier." This rewording makes the same point that the title of a book by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross "Death: The Final Stage of Growth." In that book, Kuebler-Ross emphasizes that there is an urgency for each human being, no matter how many days or weeks or months or years one has left to live, to be committed to growth. This text from John is a call to growth, which takes place in the context of faith in Jesus Christ and the Resurrection. (By the way, another part of that "Star Trek" opening uses the phrase "To boldly go..." Our call to "boldly grow" -- in faith, unto eternal life -- is set forth by the example and word of Jesus.)
"When I come upon death's door,
and face my darkest hour,
The sun will shine forevermore
(From a hymn ©1990 by Ralph J. Mineo)
Exegete: Rev. Ralph J. Mineo is Pastor of St. Luke’s Lutheran, North Baltimore, Ohio.
LEXEGETE © 2009