Bible Study, 3 Lent (B) – March 11, 2012

Discussion Leader: Jane BurkettNashotah House Theological Seminary

“In the temple Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’” (John 2:14-16)

Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings:
Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
(Click on the link to jump down the page to each reading.)

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Exodus 20:1-17 (New Revised Standard Version)

1 Then God spoke all these words:
2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
3 you shall have no other gods before me.
4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,
6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
9 For six days you shall labour and do all your work.
10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
12 Honour your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 You shall not murder.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
17 You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Comments from this week’s seminarian, Jane Burkett:

This is one of the two Old Testament passages containing the Ten Commandments, the other being Deuteronomy 5:6-21. The text itself does not make clear how the verses are to be divided into ten, and so they have been numbered slightly differently among different Christian denominations and Jews. But however they are divided, the first few commandments (vv. 1-11) concern relations to God, and the latter ones (vv. 12-17) concern relations with other people. Hence Jesus could summarize the law as loving God and loving neighbor (Matt 22:37-39). The order in which the commandments are presented is important. First of all, God has the right to set these rules for the Israelites because he is the one who rescued them from slavery in Egypt; he has redeemed them, and they are his. Second, the commandments about our obligation to God come before those to our neighbor, because how we treat our neighbor is based in God’s creation and ordering of the world. Human beings are made in the image of God, which means that how I treat my neighbor is intimately connected with my relationship to God.

As Christians, God has rescued us, not from Egypt, but from the slavery of sin and death. How should we respond to that today?

Does my behavior toward others recognize God’s image in them?

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Psalm 19  (Book of Common Prayer, p. 606)

1 The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the firmament shows his handiwork.

2 One day tells its tale to another,
and one night imparts knowledge to another.

3 Although they have no words or language,
and their voices are not heard,

4 Their sound has gone out into all lands,
and their message to the ends of the world.

5 In the deep has he set a pavilion for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom out of his chamber;
it rejoices like a champion to run its course.

6 It goes forth from the uttermost edge of the heavens
and runs about to the end of it again;
nothing is hidden from its burning heat.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect
and revives the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure
and gives wisdom to the innocent.

8 The statutes of the LORD are just
and rejoice the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is clear
and gives light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is clean
and endures for ever;
the judgments of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,
more than much fine gold,
sweeter far than honey,
than honey in the comb.

11 By them also is your servant enlightened,
and in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can tell how often he offends?
cleanse me from my secret faults.

13 Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me;
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my
heart be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.

Comments from this week’s seminarian, Jane Burkett:

Psalm 19 is a hymn glorifying God and the law that he has given. The first part of the psalm describes how the heavens silently declare the glory of God, and anyone who has ever looked up at the stars on a clear night can identify with the feeling of wonder and joy the psalm expresses.

The second part of the psalm discusses the law of the Lord. Although Christians frequently take a dim view of law and see it as only leading to dead legalism, this psalm expresses joy at the gift of the law, because it makes wise, enlightens, warns, and revives the soul. The law is intended to show us how to live in harmony with God, each other, and all of creation.

The last verse, a beautiful petition frequently used as a sermon opener, calls God “my strength and my redeemer.” The redeemer in ancient Israel was someone who bought back a family member from slavery. Thus, God is someone who deeply loves us and to whom we owe an enormous debt of gratitude for our rescue.

Do you see the Law as a blessing?

What might “secret faults” (v. 12) be?

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1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (New Revised Standard Version)
18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.
22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom,
23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Comments from this week’s seminarian, Jane Burkett:

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” It goes without saying that no one wants to look like a fool, and yet here is St. Paul encouraging us to believe something that is foolishness to the wise of the world. And once you discard your familiarity with the gospel story, it does sound like foolishness. What kind of God, rather than coming in power to make everything the way it ought to be, instead allows himself to be publicly humiliated and tortured to death? Against all expectations, God came in humility and transformed the world through the cross, saving us from our broken state while respecting our free will. How fortunate we are that God is patient and merciful, and deals with us in love rather than power.

Why didn’t Jesus come as an earthly king to set things right?

If you were given infinite power for a day, what would you do?

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John 2:13-22 (New Revised Standard Version)

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables.
15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
16 He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’
18 The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’
19 Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’
20 The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’
21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body.
22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Comments from this week’s seminarian, Jane Burkett:

The sellers and moneychangers were in the courtyard of the temple selling the items devout Jews, particularly those who had travelled far and could not bring along animals, needed to perform the necessary sacrifices. Unlike the other three gospels, however, the focus of this story in John is not about the impropriety of turning the temple into a marketplace or the extortionary or dishonest practices of the sellers and moneychangers (the other gospels refer to them as “robbers”).

John’s gospel contains a series of signs that show who Jesus is, and this is the second one, occurring immediately after the wedding at Cana. The Jewish observers of this event were correct in perceiving Jesus’ actions as a threat to the sacrificial system of the temple. John uses this event to indicate who Jesus is and what he has come to do. Jesus tells them that he himself is the replacement of the temple. The temple’s purpose was to be the place of God’s presence among his people; Jesus is now that place. The temple was the place where sacrifices were performed, especially at Passover. Jesus will be the final, perfect Passover sacrifice. Jesus fulfills the purpose of the temple, rendering it obsolete.

How would you have reacted if you had been at the temple that day?

Comments

  1. Mark Harbour says:

    I believe we should embrace the creative tension of living a self-developed moral framework; particularly the understanding of how to incorporate forgiveness when we face the inevitable violation. The key is to periodically think about our relationship with God, identify what me might do to grow it, then take action – a lifelong struggle. To help find the way, we are provided an example through the life, teachings, and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus.

    A quote seems on point from Don Quixote –
    Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.

  2. Leo Finzi says:

    The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the firmament shows his handiwork.

    2 One day tells its tale to another,
    and one night imparts knowledge to another.

    3 Although they have no words or language,
    and their voices are not heard,

    4 Their sound has gone out into all lands,
    and their message to the ends of the world.

    The modern day physics rendered as poetry.

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