You're familiar with the "cleansing of the temple." Each gospel tells this story of Jesus entering the temple and throwing over the tables of money exchangers and those selling animals for sacrifice. In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), this occurs immediately after the hosannas of Palm Sunday and gives the religious authorities greater evidence that Jesus must go.
John, however, places this story at the beginning of Jesus' ministry (John 2:13-22) - just after the first sign at the wedding of Cana. From the beginning, then, John is demonstrating that Jesus is not going along with the established program. He has another way of showing God's presence and it will lead to conflict with what is considered normative.
This story also disrupts our typical way of characterizing Jesus. This is not the gentle man with a sheep laid across his shoulders. This man made a "whip of cords" and drove out sheep and cattle. He poured out coins and overturned tables and yelled at people doing their jobs. It would have been a very frightening scene.
But, why? Why would this set Jesus off so? The sacrificial system (if uncorrupted) would be very helpful.
We bring our offering in the form of cash, check, or, increasingly, online contributions. None of us would want to raise a goat then bring it up to the church. Please do not bring us a couple of turtledoves. Think of those traveling from far away. They didn't want to carry livestock on a journey from Nazareth. It made complete sense to be able to purchase acceptable sacrifices and exchange coins for offering at the temple.
We've been convinced that Jesus didn't like the exploitative practices that likely accompanied this system. The synoptic gospels indicate this with his referring to the money exchangers and animal salesmen turning the temple into a "den of robbers." John doesn't use that language. He talks about making it a "marketplace" - a decidedly less condemnatory word. What was it, then? In John's presentation, what was going on that was contrary to how Jesus understood his Father's house?
Give it some thought and we'll sort through some of that together on Sunday. We look forward to being together then.