Tuesday, November 27, 2012

temple tantrum=end of religion

Chris Roth, on the bottom-line reason for Jesus' templa tantrum:
The more likely reason, however, is reflected in the words of the theologian Bishop Leslie Newbigin, "The action of Jesus is more than an example of prophetic protest against corrupt religion. It is a sign of the end of religion." (The Light Has Come, 33). Jesus' actions signal a new reality where the temple has become obsolete. In John's biography of Jesus the clearing of the temple happens right after Jesus' first sign, which is turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. In that sign Jesus uses the water jars for ritual cleansing to make an abundance of wine. The wine was symbolic of the wedding feast of God and God's people being united, finally. The ritual hand washing points to the pollution of the world and our need to control it. The old way was about keeping the pollution out, but the new way is about a new age of celebration because the barriers between God and God's people have been removed. The symbol of the polluted world is overtaken by the symbol of wine that points to a completion- the presence of God and the beginning of a new age- a reconciliation between God and God's people.

            Jesus' actions at the temple has a similar effect in signalling a new age. Jesus very deliberately makes a whip and drives the people and animals out of the temple area. He scatters the coins and overturns the tables of the moneychangers. Jesus commands the people to leave saying, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" The overall effect was that all sacrifice stopped. The endless sacrifices the people made to atone for their sin stopped. Symbolically, Jesus stopped the sacrifices of the temple. He symbolically destroyed the temple.

            Zechariah 14:21 says, "there shall no longer be traders in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day". Zechariah is referring to the coming new age, when God if fully present with His people. And here Jesus is driving out the traders as Zechariah said would happen on that day. Jesus is declaring that this new age has begun. The presence of God will no longer be based on geography, but on the person of Jesus.    

            The people then asked for a miraculous sign that would prove he has the authority to do what he just did and Jesus replies, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." Jesus has just equated the temple with his own body. The temple was the place where heaven overlapped with earth. Now Jesus has symbolically destroyed the Temple. Now Jesus' person is the place where heaven overlaps with earth. It is through Jesus that the presence of God is now sought.

            Through this prophetic symbolic action Jesus points to the end of the sacrificial system in the heart of Judaism through the Temple in Jerusalem (which was destroyed by the Romans 40 years later in 70 AD). Jesus replaces the temple as the place where the presence of God is sought. Relationship with Jesus, the lamb of God, replaces the need for sacrifices. Jesus' self-offering on the cross becomes the only sacrifice that brings us into right relationship with God. As Christians the temple is now irrelevant- obsolete. The temple expired with the presence of Jesus in the world.

            We should be careful not to place boundaries where Jesus removed them. Do you have a Sacrifice? Do you have the temple tax in the right non-Roman coin? Are you a Gentile or a Jew? Male or Female? Adult or child? Are you disabled or blind? Your answers to these questions changed where and how you worshipped in the temple, or if you were allowed in the temple at all. Now, because of Jesus, your answers to those questions don't change how you worship at all. That whole religious system was ended by Jesus. Because of Jesus all we need to do to approach God is to pray. There is no need for a temple anymore. Jesus' action were for our sake. He freed us from that system of sacrifice. His act of judgment and destruction in the temple was an act of grace. It was the destruction of something to allow for something better to take its place. Now, in Jesus' new order, all are welcome to approach God in Spirit and in Truth...LINK< CHRIS ROTH

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