By Col Dencio Acop (Ret), PhD
Jesus clears the temple
How does Jesus’ cleansing of the temple impact you? How about His rebuilding the temple in three days?
I wish to reflect on the passage by understanding its undertones to the first and second commandments as well as to the old and new testaments. And how Christians today have slightly differing views hence their disunity. The scripture reading has two major highlights. Seen from the Decalogue, these are, The first commandment is “Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul”; and the second is “Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Relatedly, the first commandment is the focus of the old testament whose living doctrine is the ten commandments handed down by God through Moses; and, the second commandment reveals the new testament in the Incarnate Son of God who modeled how to live in the world through the Beatitudes. The dysfunctions from the old testament salvation story led to the Messiah who came to redeem man and show him how to live just as the Father had ordered from the very beginning for all His creation. To rebuild the old dysfunctional temple into a new church, Jesus had to dismantle the old. His scattering of the vendors’ coins and produce merely reflects how God wants to restore His people back into order with Him. And at that point, little did the Jews know that the new temple was Jesus Himself. That they ought to change their beliefs from those of the old order to the new ways of peace and non-violence. To the ways of love who is Jesus personified. How was the old order erroneous even if the Jews thought they were following God’s ten commandments?
Well, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes got stuck up with earthly privilege which corrupted their hearts. God’s authority that legitimated them went up to their heads. Instead of fostering love among the people, these temple authorities emphasized the wrath of God if they did not follow His commandments thereby making fear the basis of the relationship between God and His people. These are the wrong values. They are man’s but not God’s. Jesus came and reversed all that. He is the new temple. Perfect. The only true way to the Father.
We can say, some of the same dysfunctions still occur today. And how disunited Christians today have slightly differing views illustrate this. While it is true that Jesus is the only way, it is not entirely true to focus solely on one’s salvation through Jesus and neglect one’s role towards one’s salvation. Salvation is not a free ride. While Jesus carried His cross, He also expects us to do the same. Love in action is the name of the game. It is not enough to say that we love someone if we do not manifest that love through our actions not only daily but throughout a lifetime of marital union.
It would not be love of God and country if a soldier, who swore an oath to defend his country with his life, becomes a deserter from cowardice in the face of a hostile enemy. It would be hypocritical for a priest ordained to celibacy to have relationships with women and sire children. It is high treason for the sworn politicians to sell out his country to the corruption of a powerful nation and neglect his own.
The protocols for a good living have already been revealed to mankind through the doctrines of the Decalogue and the Beatitudes. All man needs to do for his own good is to abide by them. In truth. That would mean action and not merely words. It would mean carrying one’s cross in all humility in place of putting one’s faith in prosperity gospels. It would mean not neglecting the tree for the forest and vice-versa. Not ignoring the beggar even as one remains civil before the powerful. In other words, charity. The true meaning of love. Inspired by the Sacrificial Lamb hung from a tree.