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 action. 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 through the sea, and finally to Mount Sinai where he made a covenant with them and gave them a new way of life embodied in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). God gave Moses instruction for worship and for making the Tabernacle, or Tent of Meeting, which was later replaced by the Temple at Jerusalem. The New Testament tells us that these "serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary" - God’s 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 sin and make us living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19). Do you want to be holy as God is holy?
Jesus burns with zeal for his Father's house
Jesus referred to the temple as his Father's house which was being made into a "house of trade" (John 2:16) or "den of robbers" (Mark 11:17). That is why he used physical force to expel the money-chargers. 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 from Psalm 69: "Zeal for your house will consume me" (Psalm 69:9). This was understood as a prophecy describing the Messiah. Here the disciples saw more clearly Jesus as the Messiah who burned with zeal for the house of God.
The Jewish authorities, however, 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 replied that the sign God would give
would be Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb:
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews
did not understand that the temple Jesus referred to was his own body.
The "tent of his body" had to be destroyed to open the way to the
presence of God for us.
The Lord Jesus makes us temples of the Holy Spirit
Through his death and resurrection, Jesus not only reconciles us with God, he fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes us temples of the living God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God's word enlightens our minds and purifies our hearts that we may offer God fitting worship and enjoy his presence both now and forever. Do you burn with zeal for the Lord’s house?
"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."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/