Daily Devotion – April 9, 2021 – Pastor Erick Thompson
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 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!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
One of the main themes in the Gospel of John is Jesus’ issue with the organized religion of his time. The episode of Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the temple comes early in John’s Gospel, showing us just how important this is. Without the moneychangers around the temple, the people couldn’t worship. Jesus’ cleansing of the temple sets up the debate around just what exactly are we worshiping? Jesus recognized that religion can too easily become just another institution in our lives; something we treat as we would our schools or stores. We approach religion expecting a predictable outcome and a set of rules that help to preserve the status quo.
In the Christian church, this debate is a constant battle. At stake is our understanding of God’s gospel. Is the gospel something that can disrupt our lives with potentially transformative power? Or, is the gospel a comforting message that helps us get through our day? While some might argue for both, Jesus’ actions in the temple tell us that the gospel changes our lives. The gospel should come into our lives like a man driving out cattle and sheep with a whip of cords, and who then promises to die and rise again. The gospel shouldn’t be a tame, moral lesson, or some vaguely comforting words that we bring out at funerals. The gospel disrupts, transforms, resurrects, shines light into the darkness, surprises, and most of all, changes everything.
When we hear the gospel, life is not the same. One of the challenges for us as modern Christians is recognizing how we have tamed the gospel, and how we use religion like any other institution. It’s no wonder our younger generations have begun to leave organized religion, claiming that they are “spiritual but not religious.” Are we willing to let the gospel be a wild, spirit-filled moment in our lives? Can we think differently about the church so that the gospel shines light into our darkness?
Prayer: Holy God, you want the best for us, yet we are not always willing to listen. Open our hearts to hear your gospel in our lives, and help us to be transformed by its power. Amen.