All Scripture quotes are from TNIV unless otherwise noted.
My friend Jes has some comments (here and here) in each of the previous posts (one, two) that helped me continue my thinking on this text and message. I left a comment in the second post, but want to mention a little bit here.
Two themes seem to converge here in John’s telling of this story: One is of Jesus replacing the Temple as the “unique location of God’s presence.” Two is of Jesus cleansing the Temple in order to it to be truly “holy to the Lord” (Zechariah 14:20-21).
A follow-up to this thinking is that the Temple-presence of God is now no longer located in a building in Jerusalem that we go to, but in the person of Jesus who comes to/after us. The connection to what John has already said in his prologue seems to have gained a new dimension—to paraphrase: “the Temple became flesh and came locating himself with us, wherever we were.” Could it be said that in Jesus, the Incarnate One, God becomes the pilgrim on a journey to reclaim us? Hmm….
In any event, I think we can look at our inclination to see the Temple-cleansing as applying by analogy to us a little differently than we might at first. The canonical connection to Paul’s thought on the Body as a Temple of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3, in which the issue is divisiveness based on loyalty to favorite preachers vs. loyalty to Jesus) or our bodies as Temples of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6, in which the issue is immorality and the proper use of our bodies, which belong principally to God) are a natural places for us to intuit a connection (and I think there probably is something to that), but I wonder if a connection to Paul in Colossians 1:27, where he speaks of us becoming proclamation of his Gospel to others because of “Christ in us, the hope of glory”:
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
In John 2, the connection for us between Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple and his replacement of the Temple in his person may be the work Jesus does in us to make us “holy to the Lord” because he is the Temple and he is entering us, to share his life with us and to share the Gospel through us. Again, a definite link to Paul in 1 Corinthians 6, but with a peculiar emphasis that is centered on Christ’s purifying us and missional purpose through us.
A question Jessica raised in her commets was on “zeal” and how we don’t talk much like that these days. One of the initial thoughts I have is “zeal” in the mind of the first century may have been associated with persons called “zealots” who were prime examples. How does that image apply here?
What other images or stories of persons being “consumed by zeal” in either good or bad ways can we think of?