Meditations of My Heart

Psalm 19:7-14 and John 2:13-22

Third Sunday in Lent

March 3, 2024



                Today we find a very different Jesus than the one we are used to reading about.  The Jesus that we know is caring and loving, compassionate and full of grace.

                Let’s consider exactly what has driven our compassionate Jesus to the point of making a whip to drive out the animals from the temple.  What has driven this Jesus to pour out the collected coins and overturn tables?   It must have been a very disturbing scene.

                What is really going on here that angered Jesus to the point of this outrage?

                Previously, each time I have heard this story about buying and selling in the temple, which has become a marketplace, I’m not sure I fully understood what was taking place.

                I mean I thought it was that Jesus didn’t want the temple, the house of God, disgraced with buying and selling; however, there is much more to the story.

                The people were expected to make a sacrifice for their sins.  Most people would sacrifice a calf or a sheep, which was more expensive, so for those who could not afford to purchase the larger animals, they were offered to make a lesser purchase of a dove.

                What was really going on here is that the leaders of the temple had created a money market for themselves.  Since tradition held that animals were needed for sacrifices to God for sins to be forgiven, or in order give thanks to God, the leaders had so very conveniently provided animals for purchase.

                It was being made to look as a matter of convenience that these animals had been placed here so people didn’t have to travel with their sacrifice, especially if they were burdened with traveling a long way to get to the temple.  However, there was the guilt factor and the pressure factor that came along with the convenience.

                Leaders and the sellers of the animals might pressure those coming into the temple to make a sacrifice, or guilt those into having a sin forgiven so that animals could be sold and money could be paid that ultimately ended up in the pockets of the leaders so they could get rich.  I imagine that Jesus was watching high pressure sales here.

                There was no need for those traveling long distances to be inconvenienced or burdened by bringing their own livestock, no everything was conveniently provided here at the temple.

                However, Jesus tells the sellers, “Take these things out of here!  Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

                As this is happening, Jesus’ disciples remember that it is written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 

That’s an interesting phrase, isn’t it?  “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  Where is it previously written?  From where do the disciples remember it?

                If we look at the Psalmist’s writing in Chapter 69, he is praying for deliverance from persecution, and it is in verse 9, he prays, “It is zeal for your house that has consumed me; the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

                Here the Psalmist is being persecuted for doing what is right before God because of his love for God.

                The disciples, seeing all that is unfolding before them, considered these words from the Psalmist a prophecy.  Like the Psalmist, Jesus was consumed with the love of his Father and his Father’s house, the temple, which was being used as a marketplace.

 Jesus bore the burden of knowing these things were not needed to have a relationship with his Father, and that the people were being taken advantage of as the leaders got rich from their little scheme.

                Also like the Psalmist, Jesus was burdened with questions and insults by the Jews and the leaders of the temple with questions regarding his zeal for wanting to show everyone the right way to have relationship with his Father, God.

                Jesus, therefore, was disrupting a nice little money making scheme, and you can imagine this did not set too well with the leaders of the temple, the sellers sitting at the table, or even those entering the temple for forgiveness and blessing.  Everything was literally turned upside down!

                So as the anger flairs, the Jews question Jesus, poking at him for his previous teachings and now for this, asking, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”

                Jesus is probably about to lose his mind.  What sign?  What sign, indeed! 

They are most likely focused on the fact that Jesus had just prior to this event turned the water into wine.  However, the truth is Jesus is the sign, and they are too oblivious, too arrogant to recognize him and acknowledge him as the Messiah.

                Previously while attending the wedding, Jesus turned the water into wine, and the jars once filled with water for purification are being replaced with wine, the symbol of blood, Christ’s blood that will be shed to purify all from their sins.

                The sign in today’s reading is that Jesus is opposed to organized religion, a scheme that is more concerned with making money than with worshiping God.  Jesus is opposed to tradition that disrupts the focus which should be on the body of Christ.

                Jesus is destroying the old tradition in order to prepare for the new covenant.

                They scoff when Jesus replies, “Destroy the temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” because they do not understand that Jesus speaks of his death and resurrection.  The death and resurrection to come that they cannot comprehend.  The death of the old traditions and laws, and the resurrection of the new covenant made through the blood of Christ.

                Jesus has entered Jerusalem as Passover is about to occur.  Passover being the Jewish tradition and celebration of redemption from bondage in the land of Egypt where God freed the Israelites from slavery.

                However, this Passover will parallel with redemption of bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Christ, the true Temple of God which will be torn down, destroyed and killed, and the one who will rise on the third day.

                As we continue our walk in the wilderness with Jesus toward Easter, what meditations do we carry in our heart?  What are our thoughts?

                Like the Psalmist in our reading today, we have all the words of God planted in our minds, and the actions of Jesus are sown in our hearts, and it is for us to consider….are we meditating on those things as we journey with Jesus?

                When we hold on to traditions that stand in the way of new ways of worshiping God, are we worshiping the tradition itself rather than giving God the glory for a new direction?  Is the tradition getting in the way of our walk with Jesus?

                When we speak unfavorably about another person, are we letting the words of our mouth be acceptable to God?

                When we wish another harm or delight in one’s misfortunes, are we considering the right meditations of our heart that is acceptable to God?

                Consider all the things we know that Jesus taught, the things we can rejoice in knowing and sharing, the love and compassion, the grace and forgiveness, the unwavering zeal for God.  These are the things we can meditate on as we journey in the wilderness. 

                When we do this, it fills our lives with joy.  It fills our lives with light that shines on others so they feel the warmth of our Lord, so they too can know Jesus.

                Like the disciples remembered at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us too remember and believe the scriptures, the Word of God.  Let us dwell on the beautiful actions and words of Jesus who brings new light and love.

                Let us dwell on things that are good and that bring joy, and most of all, let us all say, “may  the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord.”

                Will you say it with me this morning?   “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord.”  Amen.

*Cover Art by Unsplash+, used with subscription