Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Body of Christ

Wingrave Methodists – Sunday 4 March 2018

Gospel John 2:13—22

Jesus clears the temple courts

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’ 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’

18 The Jews then responded to him, ‘What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?’

19 Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’

20 They replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?’ 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 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.


Church Times Sermons
Weekly cartoons about church—SERMONS—Nothing but anecdotes

Anecdote—secular event—complete misuse of church—rock music, drug dealing, alcohol—Jesus returns, sees electric cable snaking everywhere—cuts power with shears—stops event and protests to organisers

Zeal—all three readings about Zeal:

· For the Law—10 commandments

· For Wisdom—1 Corinthians

· For holiness of God—Temple

Jesus action in Temple stopped event in its tracks—organisers protested—Jesus jumped to anecdote—he could rebuild 46-year old Temple in 3 days—John helpfully explains he was talking about his own body—his own body had become God’s holy Temple.

Temple—meeting place between God and people of Israel—sacrifices offered at certain times and as thanksgiving for important life events—Temple was a holy place where human life and divine blessing met.

John’s Gospel—the body of Jesus is new holy place:

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1]

New meaning—in John, cleansing of Temple takes on new meaning—traders may be guilty of exploitation and corruption—unlike other gospels John makes no mention that they are “den of robbers”—so Jesus acting against lawful sale of birds and changing currency in order to fulfil sacrifice as prescribed—so new meaning here is that the new Temple is the body of Jesus and no sacrifice on our part is required as our sins are forgiven through his own sacrifice on the cross.

Beyond our comprehension—for us the detailed practice of Temple worship and it’s requirements—beyond our need to understand. All we need—Jesus in his body is the new Temple worship—sufficient in and to itself—Jesus does not wear his body like a suit of clothes—his body is entirely human yet becomes the new holy place of God—we are inseparable from our own physical bodies—so Jesus in his human body is inseparable from God.

Where do we encounter God?—surely we encounter God in the person and humanity of Jesus?—where else?—in zeal for God’s Word—in church filled with light—in the beauty of the liturgy—in charismatic worship when we encounter Holy Spirit—in a lit candle—in prayer—in a piece of music—in mindful meditation and silence—in the bread and wine—in a special holy place that is meaningful to us alone—in the witness of others—in the beauty of nature and beauty of countryside—in mathematics and astronomy—in the body and blood of the risen Lord.

Lent—we follow the human body of Jesus during Lent—he makes a whip out of cords—his body bends to wash the disciples’ feet—he eats and drinks with other people—he experiences the anguish of Gethsemane and the betrayal of his friends—he is tortured, abused, tried, condemned, crucified, buried, and risen again—as John explains:

22 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.

This is link between Christ’s human body, the presence of God in Temple, and his resurrected body. The new presence of God, that previously was in the Holy of holies, is visible to us in the body of Christ.

One theologian puts it like this:

Christians are not naive about the trials of being a body, and we have no satisfying description of the miracle it will certainly be for God, after we are dead, to raise us up, incorruptible. Nevertheless, we will not let go of that hope, precisely because God was committed enough to human flesh and blood to become it in Jesus Christ, and committed enough to human flesh and blood to raise Jesus up after his death, as a body able to eat fish, and point out scars to Thomas, and ask Peter to feed his sheep.

But we are not just relating to the resurrected body of Jesus, but in the worldwide church we ARE his body. As it says in one introduction to the Peace:

“We are the body of Christ, in the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body. Let us then pursue all that makes for peace and build up our common life.”

Let us embrace the opportunities this Lenten season to pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life. Amen