Thursday, 4 October 2007

Who are you to do this?

I'm in the process of studying through John's Gospel with the Impact Group leaders at the University of Central Lancashire CU. Last time, we looked at Jesus' cleansing of the temple from John 2:13-25 - and it felt like Jesus walked right off of the page as we did so.

I guess the thing that really struck me was the Jewish leaders' reaction to what Jesus had just done. Old Testament Scripture evidently condemns the sort of actions that the priests were taking - 1 Samuel opens with God's judgement on Eli, whose crime was very similar to that off the priests that Jesus judged - and there's a whole series of prophecies from God throughout the OT the need for a cleansed temple.

Yet when Jesus comes and does something that is obviously so correct - restoring the temple to the purpose for which it is designed, the Jewish leaders' reaction is one of anger, not repentance. They demand to know on whose authority Jesus acts. Effectively they are saying, 'Who are you to do this?' Of course, in doing so, Jesus showed what was at the heart of their religion: not a humble walk with God, but an outward show of 'holiness'.

As we discussed this passage in Preston, we realised that man-made religion says the very same thing to Jesus. Legalistic Christianity and man-made religions alike deny the claim made by Jesus that we need a completely new heart, a complete change - and that outward actions alone are not enough. When we fall into thinking that our outward actions are enough for God, we too say to Jesus' death on the cross, 'Who are you to do this?'

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