"Psalm 23," John August Swanson. Used by permission from the artist.
Image © by John August Swanson. Artwork held in the Luther Seminary Fine Arts Collection, St. Paul, Minn.
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Cleansing the Temple
John 2:13-25 Commentary
by Gilberto Ruiz
Any attempt to harmonize John’s version of Jesus’ demonstration in the temple in 2:13-22 with the Synoptic accounts (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46) risks missing John’s theological “take” on this important moment in the life of Jesus.
In John, the temple scene makes a claim for Jesus’ authority at the beginning of his ministry (in the Synoptics, it occurs near the end), an authority ultimately based in his identity as God’s Son.
Verses 13-14 set the Passover context. As did thousands of Jews annually, Jesus practices his piety by going to the Jerusalem temple for Passover. In the temple, he finds what any pilgrim could expect to find during a festival: a place bustling with religious and economic activity. Jesus focuses not on the cattle, sheep, and doves that were used for sacrifices (see Leviticus 1, 3) but on the activity of selling.
Grammatically, the direct objects of the verb “find” in verse 14 are the “people selling” and the moneychangers, who are mentioned alongside the animal sellers because they assisted in commercial transactions, including the purchase of sacrificial animals. For a small fee, they exchanged money pilgrims brought from foreign lands to coinage that could ...
| Bible Text
Summer 2020 Readings
2020-21 Readings (Year 3)
The narrative lectionary is a four-year cycle of readings. Read more.
Narrative Lectionary 112: Cleansing the Temple
January 19, 2014
Join Profs. Rolf Jacobson, Craig Koester, and Kathryn Schifferdecker for "I Love to Tell the Story," a conversation on Year 4 of the narrative lectionary. This podcast covers the text for Jan. 19, 2014: John 2:13-25. Accompanying reading: Psalm 127:1-2.