Water Problems – Jesus Cleanses the Temple
The leaks started as a toilet problem, little things. Then more toilets had problems and a leak started in the ceiling in the girls’ bathroom. A pipe might have been the problem.
These small symptoms were not the disease. Like many things in life they pointed to something larger. We have high water pressure at the street that blew out our ancient water pressure regulator for the campus sometime early this week.
The problems showed up first in the classrooms and teen center. School was even closed for a day or two.
Sometimes in life the little things are just symptoms of something more serious.
The temple was doing its job of being the temple. Sacrifices were offered in the usual way. Animals were provided at a fair price for the pilgrims from afar. Money was exchanged, since after all you could not bring engraved images of foreign gods into the temple. The temple was doing more than just its job.
It was one of the largest repository banks in the ancient world. It was magnificent, overwhelmingly large, and expanded greatly under the Herod the Great. He was the one in the Christmas story. The one in the Passion story is his son.
The temple was politically important because its religious groups were powerful and politically connected. It was religiously important because it was the place where the Presence of God resided on earth, where sacrifices were offered, the covenant kept, and forgiveness and blessing of God offered.
So why would Jesus clean it out? Because the temple was all of those things and none of them. It was never meant to be economically successful or politically connected, and it was certainly not to replace the relationship of God and his people.
Jesus offers an alternative in our Gospel reading on Sunday. His body will replace the temple. In his body God’s Spirit will reside, the only necessary sacrifice will be made, the covenant kept, and the forgiveness and blessing of God will be forever known.
But that offering would seem puny compared with the magnificent edifices of power and religion, money and influence.
As we enter deeper into Lent, Paul will remind us that in the world’s eyes, this is folly, foolishness. So let us be fools for Christ.
Come to Jesus during Lent, and gather with his living Body in the Church. Experience God’s Spirit with us, and let us cleanse our lives of the things we worship besides God and the things that we let keep us from God.
We have moved on from our baptism and been through the wilderness. Now as we examine the little things of our lives, be aware of the small symptoms of sin. It may save you fortunes in the end.
The Very Rev. Daniel Paul Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona