John 2:13 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.
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Although we’ve previously considered Jesus’ intent of disrupting the temple market, and the “sign” he offered to verify his authority to do so, there is another aspect of this narrative worth pondering. It has to do with Jesus’ motive and John’s recollection of the event.
Notice that John frames this account as a remembrance. It is in thinking back over the remarkable event that Jesus’ disciples recall Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for you house will consume me” (v17). It is only after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead that Jesus’ disciples recall that he said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Pondering his resurrection, they remembered what he said and only then understood that the temple he was referring to was his body (v22). It is these remembrances that lead Jesus’ disciples to believe the scripture and Jesus’ words.
Which particular scripture did they believe? They believed David’s Psalm 69 was referring to Jesus. They saw in David’s experience a foreshadowing of his greater ‘son’– the Messiah. The Psalm reveals a zeal that willingly suffers scorn and shame for God’s glory. The subject so fully identifies with God that the insults directed at God fall upon himself. So great is this zeal for God that the subject is consumed by it: his life is willingly given up for it. The disciples came to realise that zeal for God’s house– God present with his people– consumed Jesus… on the cross. That is the realised content of their belief as they reflected back on this part of Jesus’ ministry.
So I am challenged to consider my own zeal. For what am I zealous? How do I direct and cultivate my zeal? I pray that my reflection on the words and ministry of Jesus leads me to greater insight, just as it did Jesus’ first disciples.
Lord Jesus, thank you that your zeal for God’s house consumed your body at the cross and that you raised that temple back up in three days. Grant that zeal for your people might so direct my energies and passions that I don’t grow tired or become lazy. Instead, please focus whatever strength and vitality I have on your work in this world. Amen.