Friday, 9 March 2012

Love for Sale

John 2:13-25 

Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market.’ Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.
  During his stay in Jerusalem for the Passover many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he gave, but Jesus knew them all and did not trust himself to them; he never needed evidence about any man; he could tell what a man had in him.

What if I should discover that the poorest of the beggars and the most impudent of offenders are all within me, and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness; that I myself am the enemy who must be loved-- what then?
Carl Jung 

Odd thing about this part of the Gospel - this incident when Jesus (Jesus!) seemingly loses it - human maybe but hardly divine - is how very vindicated we can feel about it - 

that if Jesus can lose his temper then it is ok to lose mine...

that there are people who deserve Jesus' anger...

that we are not one of those people...

or, that we are.

Vindication is a sharply honed, two edged sword that we imagine divides the right from the wrong; the swing of this event manages to divide Jesus from pretty well everyone. But who would believe that they were in the wrong?

It is permissable for the market sellers and moneychangers to trade in the Temple. People are required to make sacrifice; to pay tithes and offerings. Sacrifices and tithes have to meet the customs of the community; the purity laws; the tradition. The traders are breaking no laws; it is simply supply and demand. How better to do this than within the Temple itself? There may be some profit involved and money does 'talk' - even 'pray' - but it is for the common good. 

The 'good' ... even as Christians we often talk about the need to protect and to consider the common good. It sidles its way into conversations about social justice and just societies. The common good protects the interests of the many; of the majority; it makes the most of things; it supports the status quo. 

Jesus does not believe in the common good; it is not for the common good that he forgives the woman caught in adultery; heals the lepers or makes  disciples out of tax collectors, prostitutes and widows. It is not for the common good that he blesses the meek, the grieving and the merciful; it is not why he stands at the margins with those who have been rejected - for the common good - and abdicates the throne of power that the entry into Jerusalem had promised. 

It is not for the common good - it is for the Good that is his Father.

His Father who desires that nothing will stand between him and his children. So much so that, in a few days, the sacrifice of his own Son will crack open the Curtain that keeps them apart; so that the Father's heart, held deep within the Holy of Holies may bleed into the world and never again been contained within walls of either stone or Law.

It must have been a heartbreaking scene for Jesus - a microcosm of a world that is not interested in what a person has in them except to see their 'market value' - as status; as usefulness; as entertainment; as distraction; as exploitation; as profit. A world that offers salvation based on what you have to offer. The very people he had come to Jerusalem to redeem, bartering away their integrity.

Hardly loving your neighbour as yourself; hardly loving God with all your heart.

What a temptation it must be to walk away; to let the signs and portents fade; the words of prophecy fail.

And yet Love stayed in Jerusalem; stayed whilst the demand increased; until the market forces set the price. 

Thirty pieces of silver.

Love for sale?

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 
 C.S. Lewis



Jade said...

This is one of my very favorite posts of yours. Especially the end, the sad truth of Jesus being sold, the incredible goodness of what the Father has on store for us and how he sees us as valuable and worthy of his love independent of the deeds, works, laws. He only wants to know our innermost hearts and find in there faith in Him. Love the c.s. Lewis quote especially. Beautiful reflection as always.

claire said...

What a great post, Word. How well seen this all is! Thank you for the Carl Jung's quote. I identify with it.

What a great meditation you offer us here :-)

Word in the Hand said...

Thank you both - two very different quotes but they seemed to go together. So much more in this event to uncover - in Godde's time Claire ((+))

Dianna Woolley said...

Excellent post! Over the years of hearing and studying scripture I often hear stories that I've heard dozens and dozens of times and yet, like the first time, I hear something new. So it was yesterday in church and here with your post today......the temple our bodies, how much commerce versus love do we have going on in ourselves? How Jesus aches and even is angered about how all of that "stuff" needs to go, to be cleansed - I could go on, this is a wonderful way to start this week in Lent! Thank you.

Word in the Hand said...

Thanks Dianna, in our scripture group we use the method of trying to read the words as if we have never heard them before, not easy with well known parts of the Gospel but you can get some insights into sentences and phrases that seem to pass you by in familiarity.