a sermon on John 2: 13-22

The fact is, money is important.  I may not like it.  I may work to better manage it so it’s more equalizing.  I may shake my fist at the blatant acts of greed and dishonesty around it in this country.  But when I was applying to my earliest jobs in non-profit fundraising my cover letter always included something like: I learned early on that you could have great ideas, but without money nothing was going to happen.

Jesus was no dummy.  He knew this too.  Money is a tool, and when used well, can help as we co-create God’s kingdom here on earth.

And money can be a weapon – used to put down and oppress, cancel and corrupt, brutalize and neglect.  Jesus gets mad when the tools of God’s gifts are used for the latter.  Should we be surprised by that?

But what of John’s gospel today placing that story right at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  What’s the point of making everyone angry right from the outset? I think the word that gives us a clue here is “zeal.”  “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”

The Oxford dictionary defines zeal as “great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.”  Jesus didn’t just turn over those temples on a whim, in a fit of unexpected rage when he entered the temple.  In John, this was a defining act – a planned act that would define his whole ministry over and against a corrupt system of worship.  “You will not use God’s gifts to hurt others.  God will not be worshiped in ways that exclude and diminish other’s dignity. Holy days will not be defiled by greed and grasping.”

 And off we go through the gospel of John on a quest and a journey that continues to this day to live out our calling to love God and love neighbor as ourselves, to use God’s gifts to build up rather than tear down, to learn the value of money and the things that are worth far more in the world that God desires for us.

So what are you zealous for as you follow Jesus?

To see the whole sermon, go to this link.