Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (March 8):  "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up"

Scripture: John 2:13-25

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade." 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." 18 The Jews then said to him, "What sign have you to 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, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he  was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; 24 but Jesus did not trust himself to them, 25 because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 20:1-17

1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 "You shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; 11 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. 12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 13 "You shall not kill. 14 "You shall not commit adultery. 15 "You shall not steal. 16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's."

Meditation: What can keep us from the presence of God? Jesus' dramatic cleansing of the temple was seen by his disciples as a prophetic sign of God's work to purify and restore true worship and holiness among his people. The temple was understood as the dwelling place of God among his people. When God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, he brought them safely through the Red Sea, and led them to Mount Sinai where he made a covenant with them and gave them a new way of  living in moral goodness and holiness embodied in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). God also gave Moses instruction for how his people were to worship him in holiness and he instructed them to make a Tabernacle, which was also referred to as the "tent of meeting" where the people gathered to offer sacrifice and worship to God. The tent of meeting was later replaced by the construction of the temple at Jerusalem. The New Testament Scripture tells us that these "serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary" - God's true Temple in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). Jesus' cleansing of the temple is also a prophetic sign of what he wants to do with each of us. He ever seeks to cleanse us of our sinful ways in order to make us into living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). God desires that we be holy as he is holy. Do you thirst and hunger for God's holiness?

Jesus burns with zeal for his Father's house
When Jesus went to Jerusalem at Passover time he shocked the Jewish leaders by forcibly expelling the money-chargers and traders from the temple. Jesus referred to the temple as his Father's house which was being made into a "house of trade" (John 2:16) and "den of robbers" (Mark 11:17).  The prophecy of Malachi foretold the coming of the Lord unexpectedly to his Temple to "purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord" (Malachi 3:1-4). Jesus' disciples recalled the prophetic words of Psalm 69: "Zeal for your house will consume me." This psalm was understood as a Messianic prophecy. Here the disciples saw Jesus more clearly as the Messiah who burned with zeal for God's house.

The Jewish authorities wanted proof that Jesus had divine authority to act as he did. They demanded a sign from God to prove Jesus right, otherwise, they would treat him as an imposter and a usurper of their authority. Jesus spoke of himself as the true Temple which cleanses and makes us a holy people who can dwell with God. The sign Jesus gave pointed to his sacrificial death on the cross and his rising from the tomb on the third day: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19). The Jews did not understand that the temple Jesus referred to was his own body. The "tent of his body" had to first be destroyed (that is, be put to death as the atoning sacrifice for our sins) in order to open the way for us to freely enter into the holy presence of God in his heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 10:19).

The Lord Jesus makes us temples of the Holy Spirit
Through his death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus has reconciled us with God and made us adopted sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, and he fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes us living temples of our God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Do you recognize the indwelling presence of God within you through the gift and working of his Holy Spirit? The Lord Jesus wants to renew our minds and to purify our hearts so that we may offer God fitting worship and enjoy his presence both now and forever. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with a holy desire and burning zeal for his holiness and glory to grow in you and transform the way you think, act, and live as a son or daughter of God.

"Lord Jesus Christ, you open wide the door of your Father's house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship in spirit and truth. Help me to draw near to your throne of mercy with gratitude and joy."

Psalm 19:8-11

8  The precepts of the Lord are right,  rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9  the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever; the ordinances of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Jesus cleanses the temple - his Father's house, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)

"But why did Christ use such violence? He was about to heal on the sabbath day and to do many things that appeared to them transgressions of the law. However, so that he might not appear to be acting as a rival to God and an opponent of his Father, he takes occasion to correct any such suspicion of theirs... He did not merely 'cast them out' but also 'overturned the tables' and 'poured out the money,' so that they could see how someone who threw himself into such danger for the good order of the house could never despise his master. If he had acted out of hypocrisy, he would have only advised them, but to place himself in such danger was very daring. It was no small thing to offer himself to the anger of so many market people or to excite against himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by his reproaches and the disruption he caused. This was not, in other words, the action of a pretender but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the house. For the same reason, to show his agreement with the Father, he did not say 'the holy house' but 'my Father's house.' See how he even calls him 'Father,' and they are not angry with him. They thought he spoke in a more general way, but when he went on and spoke more plainly of his equality, this is when they become angry." (excerpt from HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 23.2)

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author Don Schwager 2015 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.  

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