3rd Sun Lent
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This incident, the cleansing of the Temple of traders, is one of the few events recorded in all four Gospels. The synoptics place the event at the end of Jesus’ ministry recounting the expulsion the traders, the challenge by the religious authorities and Jesus’ declaration of the temple being a place of prayer. All of these elements are in John’s version but in his narration the event has a deeper symbolism than just another confrontation with the religious authorities.
This second sign follows the one given at the marriage feast of Cana. There, at the request of Mary, the one obedient to God’s word, Jesus transforms water into wine. A symbolism at work here is that the ‘water’ of Jewish religious observance being transformed into the ‘wine’ of faith in Jesus. Following this sign, Jesus goes to the centre of Jewish worship, the Temple, and attacks those who have debased the worship there. There, traders and the religious authorities have used the justification of scrupulously following the Law to their material advantage. Only animals and coins that met with their approval could be used in worship and they ensured that these were their animals and coins, paid for by the worshiper.
The temple covered a large area; see the link in the Visual Meditation section to the painting by William Brassey Hole to get some idea of the place. John, with the significant detail of Jesus’ making of the whip he used, stresses the deliberation that went into this action. When confronted by the authorities, Jesus transforms the nature of the discussion. The temple becomes a sign of his resurrection. As he has restored worship to the temple, so his risen life will be the place where true worship takes place.
Directly following this event, is the meeting with Nicodemus, one of these religious authorities, where the discussion revolves around the transformation of faith and worship that has come with Jesus and the Spirit.