The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 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. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 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. – John 2:13-22
I can almost see the dinner table conversation. “Honey, did you pick up the unblemished lamb today?” The response, “I’ve been really busy this week. I had an all-day meeting at the Eastern Gate. I do not, I repeat do not, have time to go out to the countryside looking for a lamb. I’ll just pick one up at the stalls on the way into the Temple.” The exasperated partner sighs. “Yes, but all of the good lambs will be taken.”
We live in what some like to call a consumer-driven economy. Retail is slick, a giant machine with its cogs greased by easy credit. The convenience is incredible. We can even make impulse purchases online, from the comfort of our own homes. WWW.UNBLEMISHED-LAMBS.COM. And it is easy for us to get caught in the trap.
In the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus, the quiet and usually patient man portrayed in the Gospels, goes off. He discerns that the “businesses” of the Temple are not about doing God’s work. Do we practice this discernment when we shop? Do we ask what happened “up” the manufacturing process? How many rivers were polluted? Humans enslaved, murdered? What oppressive regimes might we be supporting? Are the conveniences we enjoy and the material benefits we accrue worth the costs to our souls?
Being a Christian does not mean being perfect. It means being in this world but not of it. Let us start by examining our relationship with retail.
Prayer: God, we are lured by what is easy, convenient, comfortable. But Jesus makes clear to us that the road is not always easy, that justice and love can often only be found down the rocky and hard roads. Help us to walk that hard road, bringing your challenge with us as we enter the market of temptation. Amen.