Gospel: John 2:13-22
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Lesson: Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm: Psalm 19:7-14
CLB Commentary on the Gospel Text by Rev. David Rinden
(Originally published in 2012)
One of the challenges, and delights, in preaching from the periscope texts is to find the relationship between them. That is particularly true with those for the third Sunday of Lent. There is a thread that goes through all four texts.
Let’s begin with the Gospel text, John 2:13-22. Here we find the account of Jesus clearing the Temple. People in an around Jerusalem provided a service during the time of the Passover. People from distant communities would not be able to bring animals along for sacrifice. Local merchants provided them, for a price, of course. What most likely began as a service to worshippers had turned into a major lack of respect for God’s Temple. God’s house had been turned into a market.
Making a whip out of cords he drove the merchants from their booths, overturned tables, and scattered the money. The humble rabbi from Galilee, who received children gladly and who had pity on those who were sick or suffered infirmities, spoke plainly, “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” By his words and actions he came into direct conflict with the temple authorities who demanded, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” This is the crux of the text: What is Jesus’ authority? Does Jesus have the right to question human authority; even our own. Or do we have certain rights; certain choices; freedoms.
He shocked them with his answer: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” His resurrected body vindicated who he was. He is the savior and also the judge. The Old Testament lesson from Exodus 20:1-17 is the standard by which we are judged. The Ten Commandments always will show us to be who we really are—sinners; breakers of God’s laws. The “tables” in our lives need to be overturned.
The psalm for the day, Psalm 19:7-14, reminds us that “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes…”
The truth is that we need to be cleansed by the word of Christ. Our lives need to be turned around. Repentance is needed. Cleansing comes from the Savior who died for us and rose again. This is when the message of the second lesson in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 offers us hope. Jesus is the wisdom and power of God, who through the foolishness of preaching saves those who will believe.