Reading for Second Sunday of Lent
Peace be with you!
In John 2:13-22, Jesus challenges the sacrificial system, which is centered around the temple. A marketplace had grown up in the outer temple courts so travelers could buy animals to sacrifice. Since the temple was the only place sacrifices could be made, people traveled from all over the country to offer sacrifices to God in order to demonstrate their repentance. The sacrificial system was the way individuals pleased God and were made right in his eyes.
When onlookers ask Jesus what gives him the authority to destroy the marketplace in the temple, Jesus tells them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (verse 19 NIV). This cryptic remark, John goes on to show, actually refers to the temple of Jesus’ body. When Jesus challenges the need for the marketplace in the temple, he also challenges the Jews to accept a new way to worship. For the Jews, the temple symbolized the presence of God; they went to the temple to encounter and see God.
Jesus is pointing to a deeper, more personal relationship people can have with God. Two chapters later in John 4, Jesus will say to the Samaritan woman, “a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem….a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (4:21, 23 NIV).
Do you go to church to be close to God? We often forget the sermon once we leave building—or at least I do. We live in the world where Satan dwells, where corruption lives, where kids show up at school and shoot other kids, where people do not help their neighbors, where terrorist groups are beheading Christians, where people do not even know their neighbors—and the list goes on. Where is God in all of this? Does he stay in the church building?
No! Jesus comes into the world as God to walk with us. He comes to feel our pain, to suffer alongside us, and to walk with us in the world. This makes God relatable to the human experience. We have never been so close to God before; we can touch and feel God now. Jesus’s death on the cross becomes the last sacrifice so that we all might be forgiven. The promise of the resurrection gives us hope for the future.
You may be saying, “Well, that is all fine and dandy, but Jesus died two thousand years ago. We cannot see, feel, or hear him now.” And I say, “We can’t?” True, Jesus died two thousand years ago, but he continues to be with us through the body of Christ. Jesus feels our pain and draws us to him through the Holy Spirit. And there is no place the Holy Spirit cannot reach us.
Jesus invites us to be in a community with him and with other Christians. Paul even described all of us together as God’s temple (I Corinthians 6:19, 12:12-14) We are able to worship as a community where people share a connection with the Triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And with the community, the promise of being in a relationship with God now and in the future is shared and honored. I feel closer with God when I am in fellowship with other people who share my faith. Fellowship, even in a bar or in an airport, allows us to challenge each other and to lift each other up in prayer. The temple is no longer a physical location; instead, the community of two or more believers becomes the tangible way we can connect with God (Matthew 18:19-20). And so we can worship God wherever we are!
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending Jesus Christ. Help us to express our faith outwardly in order to share the blessing of your community with others. Guide us as we become your living temple. Thank you for making us your temple. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- How do you worship God every day? Where do you feel God’s presence?
- Where do you create community?