God is love - a Lenten series 17 Love protects

John 2:14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

Without context, it seems Jesus is pretty upset the temple is also a marketplace. But context makes it much worse. The temple only accepted special temple money, which had to be exchanged with Roman money. But the exchange rate was artificial. Additionally, acceptable sacrificial animals had to be purchased by those worshipers who were not farmers or had traveled a long distance. The animals could only be paid in temple coin at an inflated price. Those who had traveled to worship God as their heart understood were being ripped off by those who could not care less, capitalism at its most heartless. Adding insult to injury, this market was set up in the court of Gentiles, where non-Jews were supposed to have space to worship the God of the Jews.

If worship leaders are not operating with compassion, they are not worshiping God who is love as Jesus was revealing to them. In anger at a loveless system falsely representing God, he knocked the tables over and used a whip to drive out the animals. For an hour at least, he restored the space to those who had no other court to encounter God and for those who could not "afford" to encounter God.

Love broke the system that tried to operate without it.


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