We just remodeled our home. It was intense and LOOOONNNGGG and tiring-exciting. Once we moved back in, the crazy hard work was suddenly entirely worth it. Kinda like having a new baby but without the sleepless nights.
Today, in my newly renovated living room, I read the passage from John 2 where Jesus cleanses the temple in Jerusalem. The question on the table (via a church reading plan) was, “What might God want to change in your life based on your reading of this passage?”
First, I read with a mercenary eye asking, “Am I engaged in selling stuff I shouldn’t sell?” Hmmm. Dead end question today. Not resonating.
I went back to it.
The story involves a heated, post-table-turned-over conversation between Jesus and some (self-assured) Jewish leaders where He tells them He will tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days. They incredulously respond that it took 46 YEARS to build the current temple, so NO WAY he can do a reconstruction in three days.
Hmm, I thought. Interesting. They seem like they have a point. But does this relate to me, other than that I’m (almost) 46 years old? (That’s a long time to work on a temple…it must have been pretty amazing!)
I went back to it again.
The story also involves the Jesus-line, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (2:16)
A house of merchandise. That’s a house of exchange. One thing is traded for another. A dove for a penny kind of a thing. Still not getting very far with this question, church-guide-people. I may just have to give this up.
I went back for a final time.
John reminds us that, “Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body.” (2:21)
Here’s where it got interesting for me. Jesus is the temple.
And…our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19).
What if my own 46 year old container, the soul-space that is my body, has become a house of merchandise? What if, in the very courts of God inside the temple that is me, I’ve worked for 46 years exchanging stuff?
If I give effort, I earn favor.
If I feel shame, I earn forgiveness.
If I give good works, I earn the option to rest.
If I yield to fear, I earn a sense that danger won’t hunt me down.
If I parent well, I earn kids that turn out ok.
So many earning ifs turn tricks as empty promises in the temple courts of my soul. So many exchanges with high price tags. So much noise – the capitalistic cacophony of a woman doing all she can to finally enter that place of rest, that place of absolution and peace.
When the Prince of Peace has already done it.
Today, Jesus turned over the tables and said to me, “ENOUGH ALREADY! Peace; be still. You can be done trading stuff because I’ve made one final, true, permanent, holy trade – my life for yours – and I’m done. You’re done.
“Daughter – don’t you want the inner sanctum of your soul to be a resonant, open cathedral space rather than a cluttered, crowded trading space?
“My child – I have done the work of your forty-six year lifetime. You can take down the tables. You can put away the counting devices. You can sweep out the tables heaped with effort and works and hopes and fears. You can trust my three-day-renovation to be the guardian of your sacred space.
“Because I am enough. Peace.”
May the temple space of your heart be filled with the peace won by the finished work of Jesus on this Lenten day.