The Risen Jesus is our Temple
Lent 3 Year B
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
St. John 2: 13 — 21
(Some lectionaries will include verses 22 — 25)
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
A short quote from a great old scholar will help us explore the meaning of this passage.
“In his first public act, Jesus honoured the service of God, and maintained the sacredness of the very building in which it was offered. But we shall lose much of the significance of this act if we forgot the part of the temple which he cleansed. It was not the Holy Place or Sanctuary, not the Court of the Priests, not even the Court of Israel, but the Court of the Gentiles, which the iniquitous rulers of the Temple considered as only half sacred, and so scrupled not to farm out its area for the sale of things required in sacrifice, and for the change of coin which, being defiled with the image of the Emperor, could not be lawfully put into the treasury. So here we have the first assertion of the equality of all people in Himself. The place where believing Gentiles worshipped, and by consequence the worship which they offered, was as precious in the sight of God as that of His chosen people”.
(M. Sadler 1898)
Some Reflections On the Text
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up
Throughout his Gospel account, John refers to three Passovers. Jesus attends each in the traditional manner. On the eve of Passover, the head of every family carefully collected all the leaven in the house, and there was a general cleansing. In a certain way it could be said that Jesus was doing in His Father’s house what was being done in every home in Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep,
and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there.
As the diagram below indicates, the Temple Sanctuary was surrounded by the Court of the Priests, the Court of Israel and the Court of Women. Around all of these lay the forecourt of the Gentiles.
We know our Lord was not happy that cattle merchants and money changers had taken over (with the approval of the authorities) the courtyard set aside for Gentiles to join in Temple ceremonies of worship. After all, they could just as easily have set up shop just outside the gates. But Jesus was angry at why they were there — the real reason. Their functions were valid and important. However, by cramming into the Court of the Gentiles, they had a very convenient position where they could take advantage of exhausted travellers and charge exorbitant rates or prices for their services. Most of the senior Temple authorities were “in on the racket,” and “got their cut” for approving “selected” merchants to take up key positions.
MAP OF THE TEMPLE OF HEROD
The Temple was always crowded at Passover. The authorities made it worse by allowing both money changers and merchants to operate in the Court of the Gentiles. Thus non-Jews would have found it difficult to worship there, a space specified for this purpose. Ancient Israel had always provided for the “stranger” who wished to join Israel in the worship of God. “The Jews were meant to be a light to draw the nations to the God of Israel. Instead, they turned the outer courts into a manure-filled noisy market place. Those who were drawn to prayer were instead crowded out, pushed away from God.” (Stephen K. Ray)
Jesus, by cleansing it, showed that it was holy, and vindicated for the Gentiles a rightful place in the Holy Temple. It was, as is obvious to us now, a very prophetic act on His part.
Jesus was really acting in the ancient tradition of Israel which taught:
“All who possess these three traits are without question of the
seed of our father Abraham: mercy, shyness, and lovingkindness
He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the
temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins
of the money-changers and overturned their tables,
This behaviour often mystifies some readers of Sacred Scripture. Jesus displayed what we might call righteous indignation at the lack of concern by the authorities for non-Jews who had traditionally been provided for in the Temple grounds.
Disturbing the peace in this way was not only justifiable but essential if justice and holiness were to be preserved. In this way our Lord models the just use of force.
and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
Jesus’ reference to “my Father’s house” is a public claim before the officials, of being Messiah. The prophets of old had also protested against the secularisation of the Temple and had promised that in the days of the Messiah, “all will be holy and no merchant will be found in the Temple”. (Zechariah 14: 21 Jeremiah 7: 11 Malachi 3: 1) (J. McPollin, S. J.)
His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your
house will consume me.”
The disciples are reminded of Psalm 69: 10. This Psalm is the most quoted in the New Testament, and always with reference to the Messiah.
At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can
you show us for doing this?”
There was a wide belief, probably based on Malachi 3: 23 — 24, that the Messiah should begin his work by just such a cleansing of the minutest stain in the Temple. The real point at issue is Jesus’ authority for his actions. St. John argues that the authorities must look at what Jesus is doing, and then they will find the answer to their question: “What sign?”
Asking for a sign was like asking for a proof of a proof. His act was itself a sign which they should have interpreted (Erdman).
See: Appendix — “The Jews” In The Gospel of John
Based on “The Jews” In The Gospel of John (Summary) by Robert G. Bratcher among other references.
Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and
in three days I will raise it up.”
Jesus replies in the tradition of an ancient Hebrew prophet with all the power of a command: “Destroy this temple,” (implying, “and see what happens!”).
The word for Temple that Jesus uses here is different from the word in verses 14 and 15. Here he refers to the inner Holy of Holies. He is making his point very emphatically. The coming Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus will be more than a mere sign.
The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for
forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?”
Even at the time they were speaking, the Temple had still not been completed. They take Jesus very literally and two-and-a-half years later distort his words at his trial.
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Jesus’ body may be truly spoken of as the Temple of God, because it was through the person of Jesus that God fully revealed Himself, and it is through encounter with Jesus that we meet and worship God. (“Newman and Nida”)
The body of Jesus was thus to be looked upon for the New Israel, as the Temple of God. In it was the true and abiding Shekinah-glory; the Presence of the Word.
As the resurrection will for all time proclaim, the temple of God is the glorified body of Jesus, as dwelt in by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In spiritual union with Him, all believers are members of His Mystical Body, and therefore, in a real sense, also dwell in His divine presence. This has implications for us in our daily prayer and meditation. When we stop to recollect ourselves and recall the presence of God, it is this image of us as members of his Body, the Church, which is so very important.
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Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature”
(Mark 16: 15)
Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in doing so,
The Risen Jesus is our Temple
Lent 3 Year B John 13: 2 — 21
1. “It is noticeable that Jesus began His ministry with an act of holiness rather than of
2. “(Thus) the risen Jesus is the ‘place’ of a new worship, and through faith in Him,
3. We can be very condemnatory when we declare that the Jews of our Lord’s day
Appendix — “The Jews In The Gospel of John”
Based on “The Jews“ In The Gospel of John (Summary) by Robert G. Bratcher among other references.
This phrase occurs frequently in the Gospels and particularly in the account of St. John the Evangelist. We need to remember that he was a loyal, practising Jew who followed the Messiah — Jeshua, as he called Him. Contrary to the common opinion, St. John did not use the term in a derogatory way, but in particular contexts which were understood by the people of the time (second half of the first century C. E.); even though by this time Christians often wrote in ways which demonstrated growing antagonism between Judaism and Christianity.
As a general guideline only, we could arrange the Christian references to “the Jews” in St. John’s Gospel in four groups.
1. People living in or near Jerusalem whom today we refer to as
11: 8, 19, 31, 33, 36, 45, 54. 12: 9, 11. 19: 20.
2. Casual references to the Jewish people:
2: 6, 13. 3: 1, 25. 4: 9, 22. 5: 1. 6: 4. 7: 2.
3. References to the Jewish authorities based in Jerusalem, (at the Temple
1: 19. 2: 18, 20. 5: 10, 15, 16, 18. 7: 1, 11, 13, 15, 35.
4. Those Jews openly hostile to Jesus. Usually they were senior authorities
6: 41, 52. 8: 48, 52, 57. 10: 19, 24, 31, 33.
The purpose of this appendix is to discourage thoughtless and disparaging applications of the above term for a people whom the Church bids us to look upon as our “Elder Brothers”.
John 2: 13 — 21
Lent 3 Year B
13 10 11 Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up
14 12 He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep,
15 He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the
16 and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here,
17 14 His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your
18 At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can
19 Jesus answered and said to them, 15 “Destroy this temple and
20 The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for
21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
10 [13-22] This episode indicates the post-resurrectional replacement of the temple by the person of Jesus.
11  Passover: this is the first Passover mentioned in John; a second is mentioned in ⇒ John 6:4 a third in ⇒ John 13:1. Taken literally, they point to a ministry of at least two years.
12 [14-22] The other gospels place the cleansing of the temple in the last days of Jesus’ life (Matthew, on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem; Mark, on the next day). The order of events in the gospel narratives is often determined by theological motives rather than by chronological data.
13  Oxen, sheep, and doves: intended for sacrifice. The doves were the offerings of the poor (⇒ Lev 5:7). Money-changers: for a temple tax paid by every male Jew more than nineteen years of age, with a half-shekel coin (⇒ Exodus 30:11-16), in Syrian currency. See the note on ⇒ Matthew 17:24.
14  ⇒ Psalm 69:10, changed to future tense to apply to Jesus.
15  This saying about the destruction of the temple occurs in various forms (⇒ Matthew 24:2; ⇒ 27:40; ⇒ Mark 13:2; ⇒ 15:29; ⇒ Luke 21:6; cf ⇒ Acts 6:14). ⇒ Matthew 26:61 has: “I can destroy the temple of God. . .”; see the note there. In ⇒ Mark 14:58, there is a metaphorical contrast with a new temple: “I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.” Here it is symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection and the resulting community (see ⇒ John 2:21 and ⇒ Rev 21:2). In three days: an Old Testament expression for a short, indefinite period of time; cf ⇒ Hosea 6:2.
16  Forty-six years: based on references in Josephus (Jewish Wars 1,21,1 #401; Antiquities 15,11,1 #380), possibly the spring of A.D. 28. Cf the note on ⇒ Luke 3:1.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised