Our Journey to the Cross: March 3, 2018

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr.


Prayer of Presence:
Here I am as fully in your presence as I am able to be,
Offering my fears, my needs, my hopes, my love, and my life.
For I am yours and belong to no other.
("40 Days of with Wesley," by Rueben P. Job, p. 29)
Scripture: Today’s reading is from the Gospel of John 2:13-17
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he 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 marketplace. His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

People came from all over the Roman Empire to celebrate one of seven Jewish feasts in the city Jerusalem during the first century. Each of the Jewish feasts was significant because they reminded the people of God’s continuing protection and provision. The seven Jewish feasts are Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

The feast of Passover, cited in today’s scripture, is the most important because it reminded the people of their turnover from the oppression of slavery in Egypt to liberation and freedom. In Exodus 12, the Hebrews sprinkled the blood of a lamb on the doorpost of their homes. The blood of the Lamb on the doorposts caused the spirit of the Lord to “pass over” those homes during the plague on Egypt thereby saving all those inside the house from the scourge of death.

Because people pilgrimaged long distances to Jerusalem, it was more convenient to buy a sacrificial animal at the temple for the Passover meal than bringing one with them on their pilgrimage. Temple vendors were well stocked with cattle, lambs, and doves to satisfy the needs of the consumers. The vendors set rates on the currency exchange, and they bartered and bargained with the pilgrims over the final selling price of their animals. Jesus halts the commerce and commotion and draws attention to the rampant corruption. But more importantly, he draws attention to himself as the true Temple and true lamb to be sacrificed so people could find forgiveness and peace with God. In Christ, people from every nation, language, and race can meet and turn their lives over to God; finding in God salvation from death, reconciliation, rest, and peace.

Questions for Reflection: 

  • Do you attend worship expecting to encounter God?
  • What are you more zealous for? 

Works of Piety

  • Individual Practices – reading, meditating and studying the scriptures, prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, healthy living, and sharing our faith with others
  • Communal Practices – regularly share in the sacraments, Christian conferencing (accountability to one another), and Bible study

Works of Mercy
  • Individual Practices – doing good works, visiting the sick, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others
  • Communal Practices – seeking justice, ending oppression and discrimination (for instance Wesley challenged Methodists to end slavery), and addressing the needs of the poor
Prayer Focus: For the grace to grow in zeal for the things Christ is zealous for.

Concluding Blessing: 

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. (Matthew 5:3-7, The Message)

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