The Gospel text for this Sunday (John 2:13-22) jumps to the Gospel according to John, and that usually means a jump into very deep water. The words are relatively simple, the points are relatively straightforward, but some of the things mentioned within the text are simply huge.
The text is Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, and that is a big topic in itself. The first few verses describe the situation. At a midway point (v. 17), there is a remembrance of the disciples (an interesting structure to this text is that, at the end of this section, there is another remembrance). Both the Jews and Jesus have an ‘answer’ to the situation, and both groups also have something to ‘speak’. The grammatical way both these groups are set up, there is a strong contrast between the two.
In verse 21, the translation usually says something like, ‘But he [Jesus] was speaking about the temple of his body.’ A more literal translation would be, ‘But that one was speaking about the temple of his body.’ I hope you notice the difference.
It almost seems disrespectful to call a person ‘that one’, but the writer wants to set up a contrast between the two groups, the two sides. This setup can also be seen in a very early Christian document called ‘The Didache (did-ah-kay’)’, literally, the teaching.
Without some context, it would be easy to say that, if there are two choices, two roads, two groups, then it is up to a person to pick the right one. But this gospel account DOES have a context. And the first three accounts do fit very well together with this fourth one, although this one is significantly different.
Jesus is so much the center of ALL these accounts. And it should be argued that the so-called Acts of the Apostles also focuses on what God does … through these particular people.
A reminder of this emphasis is in the ‘extra’ verses that could be read on this Sunday as well, from John 2:23-25: ‘Now when [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.’
Believing in Jesus is not about us. The way faith is used in scripture, it is about receiving a gift. The Church is about Jesus as well. After all, it is HIS body.
What is ‘in man’ is not worth talking about. More important is that we, the Church, are ‘in Christ’.