Jesus the Christ Chapter 12
Aaaaaand we’re back.
The cleansing of the Temple. This story has always interested me because it seemed so “out of character” for Christ to be pitching a fit. But that’s what this whole reading expedition is about, right? Figuring out what he was really like? (Not that I’m saying he was actually pitching a fit- you all know what I mean) I thought Talmage had some really interesting things to say. I like his explanation for the use of physical force, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this:
“With tender regard for the imprisoned and helpless birds He refrained from assaulting their cages; but to their owners He said: “Take these things hence” .
That says SO much.
This section reminded me about one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite books- the book that got me thinking about how I see Christ vs. how He really was. It’s Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, and this part comes toward the end when Zooey is challenging Franny’s attempt at saying the Jesus Prayer on the grounds that she doesn’t see Christ for who He was.
“I don’t know if you remember, but I remember a time around here, buddy, when you were going through a little apostasy from the New Testament that could be heard for miles around.
“I’m bringing it up because I don’t think you understood Jesus when you were a child and I don’t think you understand him now. I think you’ve got him confused in your mind with about five or ten other religious personages, and I don’t see how you can go ahead with the Jesus Prayer till you know who’s who and what’s what. Do you remember at all what started off that little apostasy?
” Well I do, it happens. Matthew, Chapter Six. I remember it very clearly buddy. I even remember where I was. I was back in my room putting some friction tape on my hockey stick, and you banged in- all in an uproar, with the Bible wide open. You didn’t like Jesus any more, and you wanted to know if you could call Seymour at his Army camp and tell him all about it. And you know why you didn’t like him anymore? I’ll tell you. Because, one, you didn’t approve of his going into the synagogue and throwing all the tables and idols all over the place. That was very rude, very Unnecessary.”
I think Franny could have benefited from reading this book. 🙂
I love this, because I think it’s at the heart of Franny’s issue with Christ, and with many who complain that Christians aren’t being Christlike when they call out sin (this is from Jesus the Christ, not Franny and Zooey): “Gentle He was, and patient under affliction, merciful and long-suffering in dealing with contrite sinners, yet stern and inflexible in the presence of hypocrisy, and unsparing in His denunciation of persistent evil-doers. … His nature was no poetic conception of cherubic sweetness ever present, but that of a Man, with the emotions and passions essential to manhood and manliness. … But of all His passions, however gently they rippled or strongly surged, He was ever master. ”
I love Talmage’s point that right is mightier than wrong, and that “consciousness of guilt robs the culprit of valor when the imminence of just retribution is apparent to his soul.”
I found this really compelling- speaking of Nicodemus: “one who was conscious of a belief in the Christ, but whose belief was never developed into such genuine and virile faith as would impel to acceptance and compliance irrespective of cost or consequence.” How do we move from belief to that genuine faith? Like Brandy said, we have to start with a desire to believe, a hope, but how do we develop it farther? Is it simply a matter of experimenting on the word?
Thoughts on that, or anything else?
Hmm…as to clearing the temple, I was struck by the explanations about who “the Jews” are in the gospels. Having read The Faith Club, there’s a really hard scene towards the beginning where the Christian woman has written a chapter of the children’s book about the Resurrection. Well, she talks about the Crucifixion, and says something that leads the Jewish woman to freak out. She says that the Jews were clamoring for Christ’s death. The Jewish woman says, rightly, that this idea, that the Jews are responsible for Christ’s death, has lead to horrible persecution and prejudice, and is indirectly responsible for the Holocaust. I wish I could share this quote with them:
The Jews, by which term we mean the priestly officials and rulers of the people…
That makes a lot of sense, especially in line with Nephi’s conversation with Zoram when Zoram thinks he’s Laban (bare with me folks), and Zoram talks about meeting with the Jews. They’re in Jerusalem at this point, pre Babylonian conquest, so almost everyone in the place is a Jew. It makes sense that the Jews he’s referring to are high muckety mucks.
(Chris Pope explained that BOM connection to me…)
I think this helps explain His actions in the temple courts:
His mood was adapted to the conditions to which He addressed Himself…
Sometimes we have to be harsh, and other times a softer approach is the right one. I think Jesus was trying to get folks to see the temple in a radical new light (well, not new, but retro), as His and our Father’s House. I was thinking about this yesterday in church. It’s so easy to become used to going to church; it’s normal and safe. I had a moment yesterday, though, where I realized that taking the Sacrament is holy. It’s an ordinance (right?). Wow. It made me look at the preparation I make to go to church, and made me want to make it more special. I was thinking about buying a “Sunday dress”, like they had in the old days. A special outfit that was their best, that they only wore to church. Sunday really is that holy.
Wow, this is the longest comment EVER 🙂
Totally Brandy. I really need to read that book, it’s on my list! 🙂 Nice connection to BoM too, I hadn’t thought of that.
And I totally agree about Sunday church- I’m working on teaching Z to be reverent, fold her arms etc. while walking through the building, and I realize that I totally don’t fold my arms and conduct myself reverently and thoughtfully as I hurry about the building on “the Lord’s business” of running YW, and then I wonder just how He would conduct that business,and realize I have a lot to think about. 🙂
And yo to buying a Sunday dress. Not that my clothes are all that special for Sunday, I just usually don’t wear skirts outside of church-but I think it’s a mindset. I remember when Sis. Beck gave her talk that had everyone up in arms because she talked about mothers in Africa bringing their kids to church in ironed dresses and well groomed hair, and people were going off that she was being so superficial and trivial, but she was really trying to say that those moms got it- they got that Sacrament meeting is a holy experience.
I LOVE long comments! 🙂
i agree…i see little kids walk around with folded arms and i kinda giggle, but they at least are trying to be reverent. i try to be reverent, but i could do better.
i hadn’t heard an uproar about sis beck’s talk; that’s interesting. i don’t think it’s about having something ostentatious or showy or fancy or expensive for Sunday; it’s just about, for me, setting apart the day as holy.
i’m glad you heart long comments 🙂
I don’t know how I missed it all my life, but I never understood what those people were actually doing in the temple. I find the idea that you can buy your penance so fascinating and utterly backwards; almost barbaric. That you had to purchase special temple money is absurd. It really show how far left of center these people had become.
I always thought that it was just a normal market that had cropped up and not one that was based on meeting the religious needs of the crowd. Then to make matters worse, all those peddlers were there while everyone was preparing and celebrating the Passover. It’s so completely sacrilegious!
I think it is wonderful that Jesus let loose and shewed those people off. It is really interesting to see his passion come forth. Earlier Talmage talked about Jesus’ passion and temptations and how he was a man with the same type of passions that normal men have. He talks about how the effeminate visual representations of Christ have come to be because we rarely see Him portrayed as anything other than calm, loving, gentle, etc.
I loved this chapter.
Also, his analogy of his body/temple being torn down and that he would raise it in three days was great. I’m sure I learned about this in seminary but I feel like I’m reading all of this for the first time.