John 2:13-25 – Trading
In Scripture, it is not a common thing for Jesus to get angry or resist people. In John 2:15 Jesus does something seemingly uncharacteristic of himself. He makes a whip, uses it to drive salesman out of the temple, dumps money on the ground, and flips tables.
Jesus’ reaction is the result of a liturgy turned to lethargy. He is angry that a community lacking in adoration has turned apathetic towards the things of God. Instead they are halfheartedly in the temple while wholeheartedly out for their personal gain.
Jesus isn’t as upset about the house of trade as he is upset about the hearts of the people in regard to their treatment of God. The trading in the temple is a symptom of a lack of trust in God for provision. It’s a symptom of greed expressed through exploiting those who might actually be coming to the Temple to worship. And it’s still a tactic all too prevalent in the church today.
Those witnessing Jesus cleansing the temple ask: “How can you prove that it is okay for you to do this?”
Jesus responds, “Destroy it all and I’ll raise it up,” referencing his body not the building in which they were supposed to be worshiping. Those who heard Jesus’ response didn’t understand it; the disciples figure it out later. But the interaction points to an interesting statement at the close of this chapter.
“…many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them because he knew all people, and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”
This verse makes a declarative statement about the omniscience of Jesus. It also implies that as a result of his omniscience, he rejects the faith of many of these individuals. Jesus was likely seeing something inside of them, a belief that recognized the potential benefits of the kingdom yet disregarded the real cost of following Him.
Thus it was an incomplete faith, maybe even a false faith. It was a faith that Jesus would not entrust or attach himself to, a faith that was incapable of the commitment to follow. It’s a faith that is trying to negotiate its terms of a trade.
The faith he is rejecting is often my faith. God is all too familiar with my negotiating tactics. He is familiar with my un-renewed mind; he is familiar with my selfish terms.
I’ve walked through seasons in which my faith was more filtered and refined, where I’ve followed regardless of the cost, and then somewhere along the way I wanted to renegotiate the terms of my contract.
I thought that if was I going to serve in ministry as my vocation, God would give me a spouse quickly. I thought at some point I would have this overwhelming support from my family to serve God. I thought my entanglements and temptations to sin would be gone completely. I thought I would be even keel in my emotions with less seasons of disappointment. I thought I would be more resilient even immune to bouts with depression.
And pardon my eloquent writing, but that turned out to be bullshit.
Jesus took that view of faith and said, nay, he demanded, something much deeper and richer. Jesus flips the table of our idols, looks beneath our white washed tapestry of comfort and says, “I want a faith that will follow Me, whether or not you get any of that. I don’t want your terms of trade; I want you to follow me and trust that my terms are better than you could ask or imagine.”
Jesus wants to perfect within us an enduring faith, one that maintains its beauty and luster through a desert, through a storm, through a trial, in the miracle, beyond the blessing, rooted in the depths of love. He wants us in a posture of a constant returning to the romance of the greatest love we will ever know. And Jesus who knows that, will throw out, will purge away our self-indulgence to make room for the fullness of God.
God doesn’t have room for only a part of me, but God does have room for all of me. God tosses my trade aside, looks at me as I am and invites me to follow.