Tuesday, July 29, 2008

John 2...Carl's Blogged Bible Study, Credibility, Inclusivity

Like I said in my last post, any chapter in John really takes time and space to digest, which I don't have time for this week, but hopefully will in the days to come. It's kind of like attempting to play a full game of Risk in 20 minutes....doable (maybe) but sloppy.

The first recorded miracle, while occurring in isolation (of the synoptic gospels it is only mentioned in John), cannot be interpreted in isolation. Backtrack to the John 1 for a second...Jesus had just called his disciples. Only Jesus knew the crazy ride they were in for, yet they hardly knew him (in fact in 1:48 Nathaniel, after being called, asked Jesus how he knew him).

As I mentioned last time, John is all about verifying that Jesus is truly the Messiah; John's concern is Jesus' credibility (cf. Jn 20:31). While eventually Jesus would perform signs and wonders for men, women, Jews, Gentiles, Roman soldiers, etc. it was necessary to start with his core group; his disciples; his best friends; the guys who would die in his name (except John, the author of this gospel...ironic, huh). So before Jesus demonstrated his power to anyone else (except his mother...she obviously knew what Jesus was capable of--legends exist in which Jesus performs miracles as a child) Jesus performs a miracle for his disciples only. Coincidence or strategic? I'd say strategic. Gaining trust and loyalty of his inner (fickle) circle was part of the plan.

Jesus' "cleansing of the temple" is radical in John. Unlike Mark (who places the event closer to Jesus' death) John places it as the launch of Jesus public ministry. This freaks out a lot of believers as they perceive it as an error, but keep in mind that Jews of the first century did not think with a linear western mindset. Theirs was a topical mindset--importance trumps chronology.

Anyway, most folks perceive this story as a stern warning for misusing the temple; that is, Jesus was really ticked off at the money changing going on (Roman currency wasn't allowed...it had to be exchanged at a high rate for temple currency in order to pay the temple tax or buy sacrificial animals). I am sure Jesus was angered by this, after all he quotes Jer. 7:11 in referring to the temple as a den of Lions.

But while Jesus loved his Father's house, he loved people more. In this passage Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7, "My house will be called a house of prayer for ALL nations." These thiefs, under priestly permission, had set up shop in one area of the temple..The COURT OF THE GENTILES. In doing so they left little to no room for worship of those not under the Abrahamic covenant. This house Jesus had walked in on wasn't a house of prayer for ALL nations, just for the Jews. I think this ticked Jesus off more than the bake sale in the atrium. We know from all the synoptics, especially Luke, that Jesus went out of his way for the marginalized, the Samaritans, the Gentiles.

So sure, according the prophecy in Ps. 69:9, zeal for this all inclusive house consumed him. Then as Jesus fulfills the prophets, he himself prophesies his own death, which will be remembered as a sign by his disciples at the right time.

***I hate proofreading...but I hate errors too...if you see any, let me know.


Anonymous said...

WOW... I should make you post on short notice all the time.

This house Jesus had walked in on wasn't a house of prayer for ALL nations, just for the Jews. I think this ticked Jesus off more than the bake sale in the atrium.

You wonder what else we do in church that ticks God off? Worship is more of an identity and something to check of the list of being done, than outward praise of God. (Did that make since?)

Thanks for bringing the history also.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I had always understood the cleansing of the temple to be two seperate events, one at te beginnging of his ministry and one at the end after the triumphal entry.


Love the part about the Gentiles and Samaritans and that being the house he was referring to. Fascinating stuff!


Michelle said...

Hey, Nate! I see we were on the same page with this "private" miracle for the disciples. I love that Jesus showed Himself as Creator, able to change the very substance of something without even using a word...just did.

We serve a mighty God.

darla said...

somehow I over looked this! awesome! we do get way too caught up in the timing of things, and not as impressed with importance...I am trying to get this through to my kids..priorities are not about how much you can squeeze in as it is about importance..aaaaaaahhhh I am off track again..sorry..love ya Nate, and love to read your take on things! thanks for doing that!

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