14 January 2013

Encountering Jesus - Authority and Hind-sight

The disciples weren't the only one who encountered Jesus when he cleared the temple.

The Jews did as well. 
Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 
The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2.18-22)
While the disciples were impressed by the Lord's zeal for the temple, Jesus' presumption of such authority stopped the Jews in their tracks. 

Expulsion of the Money-changers from the Temple 
Giotto di Bondone 
Scrovegni Chapel, Padua
It has always surprised me that there is no record of anyone fighting back or taking action to stop Jesus as He chases out livestock wielding a whip, as He scatters money, as he overturns tables and as He confronts those responsible for such an outrage in what was to be the holy house of His Father. 

I tried to picture a similar scenario in our home church back in Michigan: some guy walks through the door into the rather elegant appearing foyer, begins expressing loudly and obtrusively His shock and offense at the conversations taking place there, at the laughter, greetings and small talk pleasantry which often happens as people head into the sanctuary. Then he begins overturning tables and couches. He grabs bulletins out of the hands of deacons tossing them every which direction... 

I imagine you get the picture. If something like that happened in our church, I'd have no difficulty picturing the guy immediately surrounded by men trying first to reason him into calmness, but willing to physically contain or subdue if needed or if they felt he threatened the safety and security of others.

Yet the Bible records no one interfering with Jesus.

All they do do is ask Him a question. They recognized immediately that He had acted as one with authority. They wanted to know the source of His authority. They wanted to know if it was divine and if He would prove that divine authority to them by working a miracle.


So who were these Jews? 

According to THAYER'S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database, John probably wasn't writing so much about the Jewish nation as a whole, but specifically used the word Jews to refer to a certain group of the Jewish nation: a body of men hostile to Christ and later Christianity.  These were men with whom, as far as religious matters were concerned, the disciples had nothing in common. In the Gospel of John, the author describes Jesus and his apostles with language in which they are so clearly different from the Jews, it is almost "as though the latter [Jews] sprang from an alien race." In general, John's use of this word referred to those who "opposed his divine Master and his Master's cause — especially the rulers, priests, members of the Sanhedrin, Pharisees..., since the hatred of these leaders exhibits the hatred of the whole nation toward Jesus." 

Jesus's response is not correctly understood by anyone present. 

Although initially stopped in their tracks by His unmistakable air of authority, based on His response, the Jews immediately discount him, essentially saying, "You fool! How ridiculous to even  imagine (or pretend) you could rebuild in three days what took experts 46 years to accomplish." Essentially, Jesus' response did nothing to confirm that He had the authority to back up what He'd already done. Perhaps they did nothing further at that point because they simply considered Him another one of those "hare-brained, mostly harmless although irritating wackos." They'd soon see how wrong they were.

The disciples clearly did not get it either. Fisherman-turned-disciple-John does not tell us precisely how the disciples reacted. He just writes that, just like the Jews, they didn't understand. What was different between the disciples and the Jews was that the disciples didn't just dismiss Jesus... and as a result, they did understand, later- after Jesus' capture, torture, death on the cross and then resurrection. A lot of the proverbial water had to pass under the bridge before Jesus' words made sense... and then all of a sudden it hit them - His spoken words confirmed the holy written ones...

The key points I pulled from this passage, this week:

  1. The authority of Jesus, when seen, is unquestionable and intimidating - even when I doubt He is Who He says He is. Even the doubters, detractors, disparagers, decriers and deniers did not refute or repudiate His imposing, commanding presence as He cleared the temple.
  2. Jesus, at times, is okay with letting me wrestle with His mysteriousness and unfathomableness. The answers I search are not always forthcoming, at least not immediately.
  3. Sometimes confusion about what God has done or said abruptly clears - like finding the piece of the puzzle for which I've been relentlessly searching yet still overlooking for a chunk of time.
  4. His written word is always consistent with His spoken word.

Think about a time when one of those four points was unmistakably true in your life? Please share your experience in the comments.

this week's gratitude list:

(#'s 3496 - 3518) 

God's unquestionable authority, both in heaven and on earth, over kingdoms, powers, rulers and authorities

plastic animals for little girls to enjoy

dishwater bubbles that entertain

plane tickets, both legs, purchased

gumballs in a package

white cake with real raspberry filling between the layers

eating at the Rec for the first time in nearly a month - sure did miss those french fries!

funny photos of our little one treed by the goat

great Spiritual Life Conference

ice cream sandwiches made a hit

school starts back tomorrow - Bren is in his final stretch

being able to say no because we really can't ADD anything to the to do list for for the next 6 months

new pony tail holders arriving in a package - just as the last couple died

decluttering, sorting... finding new homes for so many things

season 2 of "The Mentalist"

good conversations about dating and how guys and girls get to know each other without "dating"

necessary adjustments to the schedule made

the Mazda Bongo - how we plan to get around Scotland in June

walking in the door to find Rebekah making sloppy joes just like her mama does - without any sort of "recipe" but checking out the fridge to see what's there and going from there

a new series of imaginative, spooky, scary but also fun and exciting books

listening to our home church via the internet

internet to help us keep abreast of current events taking place

praying for peace and safety and protection

Posts in this series:


  1. Great list of gifts and thoughts to ponder.
    I love, "funny photos of our little one treed by the goat". Do you have a photo to share?

    1. Yes, Janis. I do have photos - already posted them on fb and will be posting them here later this week - I think I've scheduled it for Saturday if you want to come back and check... or feel free to find me on fb. :-)

  2. Feeling a wee bit misty eyed as I read your list. Having a missionary daughter, this little things, like hair ponytail holders, really mean a lot, don't they?

    1. all of us rejoiced - myself and all 6 of my girlies! now... if I can just keep them from using them as halters and bridles for the horses when they play with their plastic animals out in the sand!


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