Hyok Kim
March 4, 2018
Hyok Kim

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John 2:13-22


In order to commemorate God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, Passover pilgrims have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And today, they enter the Jerusalem temple, chosen by God as his dwelling place, in which they meet their God and worship him. It is supposed to be a house of prayer for all the nation, and to be a holy place to worship for all people. As they have done before, they buy pure animals for sacrifice, and exchange their coins to pay the temple tax. Everything looks normal. For them, nothing is wrong. They need sacrifices, because the temple is the place of sacrifice and forgiveness for them, and in which heaven and earth come to meet. It is the reason why they have come to the temple. Yes, the temple is God’s house, Jerusalem is God’s city. Yes, they ought to be.

And now, here, with them, a man, called Jesus of Nazareth, arrives at the city, and enters the temple.    



“Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” (Mark 13:1). They see its beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God (Luke 21:5). Not only in the eyes of temple authorities, but also in the eyes of his disciples, Jerusalem temple looks the perfect place fit for the holy God. However, as their teacher sees the city, he, all of a sudden, weeps over it. The city that he is seeing, is not the God’s city. It is not for him. Then, he enters the temple. But, the temple is crammed with the sounds of yelling and bickering and shouting of those who are selling and buying, and with the sounds of jingling of coins, and crying of the cattle, the sheep, and the doves. For him, it is not the house of God, not the house of prayer either. It is not God’s dwelling place anymore. He sees that the house of God has been transformed and distorted into a shopping mall. God’s people, they have called themselves, have transformed the house of God into a house of human busy commerce. God’s house is supposed to be a house of prayer for all the nation. God’s house ought to be a house of true worshippers. However, it has become a marketplace, and they are not worshippers. Then, making a whip of rope, he drives out the sheep and the cattle from the temple, pours out the coins of the money-changers, overturns their tables, and orders those selling doves to remove them from the temple, commanding, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace! It is not a house of trade, but the house of God.” Just then, the temple authorities come to him, ask, “Who are you? What are you doing here, in the temple, the house of God?” “What sign can you show us for doing this? What miracles can you perform to show us that you have the right to do this?” “This is my Father’s house. I am his only Son. You are making it a marketplace. Stop doing that.” “Instead of solemn dignity and the murmur of prayer, here is the bellowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep. Instead of brokenness and contrition, holy adoration and prolonged petition, here is noisy commerce” (D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, p. 179).

Five hundred years ago, God says through Malachi, his prophet, “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple” (Malachi 3:1). And now, here, in the temple, Jesus, the Lord, says, “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (4:23-24).    



His devotion to God’s temple and God’s kingdom, is burning in him like a fire, not insulting the temple. He deplores that they have transformed the house of his Father into a house of trading, a house of human business, a house of selling and buying and trading their needs, their concerns. And he also rebukes their false worship. False temple, false worship, and false worshipper.

Then, “Who shall abide in God’s sanctuary? Who may enter your Temple? Who may worship on Zion, your holy hill?” King David sings to God in his psalm, “Those who obey God in everything and always do what is right, whose words are true and sincere, and who do not slander others. They do no wrong to their friends nor spread rumors about their neighbors. They despise those whom God rejects, but honor those who obey the Lord. They always do what they promise, no matter how much it may cost. They make loans without charging interest and cannot be bribed to testify against the innocent. Whoever does these things will always be secure” (Psalm 15). And he keeps praying to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. . . . O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:10, 15-17). God wants us to worship with a broken hear, a broken heart, not just with sacrifices. He wants us our contrite and pure heart. And, God promises that, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. . . . ,” and “I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, . . . . Peace, peace, to the far and the near, . . . and I will heal them” (Isaiah 57:14-21).

God’s prophet, Jeremiah, stands in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim God’s words to Israel, and to us today, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus, says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord. For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own heart, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever” (Jeremiah 1:1-7). Yes, God calls us to “loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, let the oppressed go free, break every yoke, share our bread with the hungry, bring the homeless poor into our house. When we see the naked, cover them and not hide ourselves from our own kin.” (Isaiah 58).    



Jesus has come among us in order to build the true temple of God, the dwelling place of God. He zealously purifies his Father’s house through suffering and dying on the cross for God’s will, for God’s purpose, for God’s Kingdom, and for us to be his true worshippers and to be his living temple and his kingdom community. In Jesus, heaven and earth meet. In Jesus, God and human beings meet. And Jesus himself becomes a true and pure sacrifice and true forgiveness. Jesus says, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me. The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. I am in the Father and the Father is in me (14:11-12). So, “Abide in me as I abide in you. … As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my live. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (15:1-17).  

Lent is the season to tear down our old temple got astray from God, and to re-build up a new temple in Christ Jesus who is the true temple, and to return to the true worship in spirit and truth, sharing in Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection, and anticipating the joy of Easter. Our pilgrimage of faith and Lenten journey are not to a Jerusalem, not to a temple, but to Jesus Christ, the true temple. And in Christ, we also become God’s temple, and in us and among us, God’s Spirit dwells. God’s temple is holy, and we are called to be a holy and pure place, so that we may reveal his glory to our neighbors (cf. 1 Corinthian 3:16). Church is God’s dwelling place. But church is not a building, but his household or family.

Let us be a visible sign, a visible agent of God and his kingdom through which our neighbor, our society can see and experience God and His Kingdom. Amen.