Psalm 45 • Deuteronomy 9:4-12 • Hebrews 3:1-11 • John 2:13-22
We are the sinners. We are the moneychangers. We are the thieves. We are unworthy of God’s temple. You got that, right?
What just happened? It seems like only a moment ago we were singing carols of sweet joy. “What child is this who, laid to rest on Mary’s lap, is sleeping?” And it was so comforting, at Christmas, to know that the angry and jealous God of Israel was locked safely in the Old Testament where He couldn’t hurt anyone anymore. And what a joy it was—“Joy to the World!”—to have this much nicer, warmer and fuzzier—this much cuter God, the God of the Christians, born a babe in a manger.
How frightening now to discover they’re the same God. The baby has grown up to be a man, and the wrath in His eyes—as He quotes the prophet Jeremiah and hunts the moneychangers from His temple—is the wrath of that dread tribal God who swallowed up the enemies of Moses, who buried the rebellious Korah alive in a great pit, and slew the flower of Egypt’s youth in an evening, and covered their still-grieving brothers in the Red Sea.
The carol’s question is a chilling one, today: Just what child is this?
Thanks be to God.
Thanks—because the only thing worse than being judged guilty is not having a judge. How often have the people of God cried out to God, “Judge us!” How often has Israel lamented—feeling its sin—that no real justice would come.
Today, it has come. The gospel—the good news—is that we don’t have to be cynical. Israel has what Israel has long desired—a just judge. A jealous God, whose name is Love.
Related chapters: Jeremiah 7 (den of thieves), Numbers 16 (Korah), Exodus 12 (Passover), Exodus 14 (Red Sea), 1 Samuel 8 (judgment)
— Ash Faulkner