Zeal for your House – 26 March, 2018

On Monday of Holy Week Jesus comes to the temple, to ‘his father’s house’, to the ‘house of prayer’. He knows what he will find: ‘a den of robbers’. There is no holiness, no prayer, but instead commerce and concern for profit. What Jesus does next is described as a ‘cleansing’.

In this picture, Jesus cleanses the temple (Alexander Smirnov), Jesus is driving the money changers and sellers of animals from the temple precinct. In his hand he carries a whip, made intentionally for the purpose. Jesus is dressed in red –the colour of the earth, the colour of anger, the colour of blood. The movement in the image is from left to right, from light into the darkness, from holiness and zeal into selfishness and greed. Those in the temple reach out towards the dark, holding tight to their money-bags. Like a dark wave they are being driven out, but this darkness will return in great force. When this action of cleansing becomes known the chief priests and scribes look for a way to destroy Jesus, because they fear him. Holy anger is frightening.

As we enter into the disciplines of Holy Week and relive the story of the Passion, we come to encounter this angry Jesus, the one who is seeking for holiness and prayer. Jesus comes to us, we who are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, with the same zeal for cleansing. What does he find? Will we let Jesus cleanse us, or will we resist?

From Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.