Bible Verse: “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (John 2:17)

Scripture Reading: John 2:13-25

The party-Jesus who is so present and fun at the wedding in Cana now becomes the party-pooper Jesus.

He participates in another regular community ritual: the annual religious practice of the Jews of Passover. Every Jewish male was expected in Jerusalem. He goes and participates, and he’s ticked by what he sees.

It’s not the first time Jesus has seen this stuff going on in the Temple. He’d been going since a boy (Luke 2:41-52). He was there before, but the time had come to act. Whereas at the wedding he seemed reluctant to out himself, here he seems to have lost all inhibitions.

The Temple had a most holy place where only the high priest could go once a year. It had a holy place where the priests could be. It had a court of Israel – where Jewish men could be – and a court of the women – where the ladies could hang out. And then, in the area surrounding the Temple building itself, a court of the Gentiles where people from every ethnicity were welcome. The Temple was intended to draw all people and nations to the wonder of the one True God.

But, Jesus discovers braying and bleating and the noise of exchange and extortion in the place where the Gentiles were welcome. The Father’s house was now a market. Any hope the Gentiles had of hearing of the wonder of the Living God was drowned out by God’s people looking for convenient religion and the making of a buck.

This is not what God had in mind. The Temple was to elevate his splendor among the nations and remind the people that only the sacrifice of a blameless Lamb of God would be their salvation. God was consumed with saving the world. The Jews – the set free ones – were to embody this, but religion was now trumping their call. The courts of praise were now the strip mall of religious peddling.

This is what angers Jesus.

God is not a commodity to be peddled. He is the King of the Universe worthy of our worship.

Jesus is consumed by zeal for God’s purposes in the world. Jesus confronts our tendency for misguided religious spirituality. He sees how prone we are to outward conformity, spiritual convenience, and he is consumed by a zeal, a passion for what is in us to be changed: for the wonder of God with us, God for us, God who sees us and to be God within us. He’ll ruin your party to bring this to light.

— Phil Wagler, Promise Keepers Canada

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