Sunday, March 4, 2018

we are the Body of Christ (John 2: 13-22)

The Gospel of john comes out of what is known as the Johannine community there are few theories about this group but one of the most common is that they were a community of believers who once practiced in the synagogue and then were kicked out.  They also, by reading Johns Gospel and letters are much more mystical then the other writers.

The writer of Johns Gospel tells us that he has a particular purpose in his writing.  John writes of the Baptizer that “7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.”

John also goes on to write

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (20:30-31)” John is writing so that you may believe where as the Synoptic Gospels, Mathew mark and Luke are also with that purpose but in a different way.  Thy tend to chronologically write of Jesus life.

Where the synoptic Gospels want to show you Jesus life in chronological order then this incident becomes one of the reason for Jesus’ eventual arrest and crucifixion. “the chief priests and the scribes and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him” Luke 19:47

But for John he is showing us something different he wants us to see and hear the same story but in a different way…

Though John was written last, John’s Gospel may be written closer to the heart of a community that has experienced the destruction of the temple and the exile form the Jewish community. “While John’s Gospel may have been written after the other Gospels, it was early enough to have been written by the Apostle himself, a man who saw the events firsthand and recorded them within the lifetime of those who would know if he was lying.”[1]

John “The narrator now describes the situation in the temple: “He found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables” (v. 14). Given the Passover setting, these elements are certainly not out of place. Part of the festival worship involved the sacrifice of an unblemished animal, and the availability of animals for people travelling from a distance (who might risk sullying an animal brought with them) was important. As well, one could only pay the annual “temple tax” in Tyrian coinage, so money-changers provided an essential service.”[2] The temple is all set up for a normal festival weekend.

Interestingly we know Jesus has seen this before “Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.” (Luke 2:42) We must assume that he continued this tradition.  So, something significant has happened, but what is it? John is using this story to demonstrate something new and different in Jesus as compared to other people. Jesus has stepped into his Authoritative role as The Christ, the anointed one.

Gilberto ruiz explains;

“The effect of Jesus’ actions in verses 15-16 -- his driving out the sheep and cattle (possibly the merchants too, if they are included in the “all” of verse 15, which is difficult to determine grammatically), his pouring out the coins and overturning the tables, his order for the dove-sellers to remove the doves (locked in cages, which is why he cannot drive them out with the whip) and for the temple to cease being a marketplace -- is to bring the selling to a halt. By taking on the temple’s economic apparatus in this way, Jesus assumes the authority to dictate temple practice.”[3]

By disrupting the well-established and accepted economic practices of the temple, Jesus publicly reveals he is more than a pilgrim visiting the temple. He is Son of the God who dwells in that temple, and as such he has the authority to disrupt the temple’s usual activities.

Remembering Psalm 69:9, the disciples in verse 17 perceive Jesus as demonstrating zeal for God’s “house” (the Psalm quote shares the word “house” with Jesus’ saying in verse 16). This zeal distinguishes him from the majority of temple pilgrims who participated in the temple’s sacred economy. As God’s Son, he can disrupt the temple’s activities and in doing so demonstrate a zeal like that of the psalmist, who like other Jewish heroes said to have zeal represents God’s interests on earth (e.g., Numbers 25:11) and endures hardships as a result (Psalm 69:4, 7-12).1[4]

It is interesting to note that in Johns gospel there are Just 7 signs;

“Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11 - "the first of the signs"

Healing the royal official's son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54

Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15

Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14

Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24

Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7

The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45”[5]

Jesus is just beginning his ministry. Right after the miracle at Cana in Galilee, he returned to Capernaum "with his mother and his brothers and his disciples" (2:12).  John tells us in 2:11 that his disciples "believed in him" after the first sign of changing water to wine.   Now, in this passage, we will see the disciples actively engaged in trying to understand this Jesus in whom they "believe" with the help of Scripture.”[6]

There is an evolution of faith happening in this writing.  Jesus changes water to wine the disciples believe. But in this instance there is a pause for it isn’t till all is said and done that the disciples believe.  The disciples do hold as remembering the sacred text. They recall the psalmist quote and compare it to Jesus’ action. One commentator states:

“In fact, the "remembering" of Scripture and Jesus' own words is at the center of the lives of Jesus' disciples. How useful it is to see Jesus' own disciples coming to deeper realization of what it means to believe in Jesus. Gradually, they come more fully to understand how Jesus serves the God who has sent him out of love for the world.”[7]

In many ways this is what we are called to do just as the wedding at caanan evokes a immediate simplistic respons we now can see that

 “Belief on the basis of Jesus' first sign would quickly prove shallow, even untenable. That belief, important as it may have been, must be deepened and extended. The cleansing of the temple elaborates Jesus' identity for his disciples and for John's readers. In addition, it prompts disciples then and now toward on-going engagement with Scripture as God's reliable (if not always crystalline) word about God's purposes in this world which God loves.”[8]

The commentator goes on

“Central to the passage, and even more so for its use as a Lenten text, is the act of interpretation and remembering. Both times the disciples appear, they are remembering. In verse 17, they reflect on Jesus' quotation of Zechariah 14:20-21 in terms of Psalm 69:9. Jesus explains the temple cleansing in prophetic terms decrying the use of the temple for trade.

Yes, the "trade" in question was legitimate and necessary for pilgrims and others who did not have suitable coinage to purchase the animals needed in temple worship. That historical fact is not relevant. Rather, Jesus is declaring himself both as prophet and as one who claims that the Lord's house is his "Father's" house. His disciples have the first hint of the extreme conflict that will be at the heart of Jesus' ministry, and recognize it as foreboding Jesus' death.

“In spite of their dawning comprehension of perils that surround Jesus, Son of God, King of Israel (1:49), the disciples are no more able than the "Jews" to grasp fully Jesus' statement in verse 19. “Jesus answered them Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (And remember, the disciples themselves, like Jesus, are also Jews). Jesus offers a sign so outrageous and so incomprehensible; it is not until after his resurrection that his disciples understand what he has just said. Jesus seems to speak of the temple but does not. Or does he?”[9]

“the reference to the three days is a foreshadowing of the resurrection but also the ascension. As a result, Jerusalem is at once the location of the completeness of Jesus’ ministry -- his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension -- not just the place of his death. If the temple symbolizes the location and presence of God, Jesus is essentially saying to the Jewish leaders that he is the presence of God. Where one looks for God, expects to find God, imagines God to be are all at stake for the Gospel of John. In Jesus, God is right here, right in front of you. That Jesus is the revelation of God, the one and only God (John 1:18), will be repeatedly reinforced with different sets of images, different characters, different directives, all pointing back to this essential truth.”[10]

Jesus’ play on words and signs as we now understand it because the writer has made it clear that all the disciples now understand it (after the resurrection, allows for further exploration. Jesus is saying my body, this temple will be destroyed and resurrected in three days.  John is saying this here is our center of faith for the authority of God lies in the body of Christ.

During lent we are called to focus on this this journey in which the authority of Christ as God revealed. Especially as God is being revealed through the Gospel of John. You see

“To claim that God was uniquely present in Jesus is certainly important, since it is integral to the high Christology of the Johannine community. {92} … God’s presence within this group as followers of Jesus is central as well. This theme of the ongoing divine presence within the community is prominent in the Fourth Gospel’s “Farewell Discourses” (e.g. 14:16-27; 15:26; 16:7). The Johannine community does not simply worship a “once-for-all” entry of God into human history: it sees itself as the dwelling-place of God in the present context.”[11]

This is the same presence we honor in each other and the Christian community today.  It is a call to remember we are the body of Christ. Not this building, not only when we gather for an hour on Sunday but we are called as the Body of Christ.

As 1 corintians reminds us  …from the message

 “12-13 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of Christs’one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which Christ has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of Jesus’ resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—God’s Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

14-18 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where God wanted it.”

So finally in the words of st theresa

eresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

Compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

Let us be the hands and feet of Christ in the world today!

[8] ibid
[9] ibid

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