Gospel of John #24
John 2:13-12 (text is reproduced below)
Think about some beloved place, where you go for prayer, or a sacred building. Maybe you feel God’s presence everywhere — or the Spirit’s presence — so that all of creation is saturated by the holy. But, when you are at this one place — whether it be outside (on a mountain top or in a forest) or inside (in a church, mosque, Temple, or at an altar of your own) — you are in touch with the Spirit in a special way.
Your heart is calm and peaceful. Your mind is concentrated. It is easy for you to contemplate your life, to forgive others, and to be inspired to take new and beneficial actions.
Based on a vision, Joseph Rael – aka Beautiful Painted Arrow – constructed numerous peace chambers of optimal acoustic design, which are portals to the divine. (See link: Peace Chambers) Some believe that certain places in the USA — like Mount Shasta or the vortexes in Sedona — are gateways likewise.
What if there were no holy places on earth? Either in nature or man-made?
In this passage from John (see below 2:13-22), Jesus drives money changers out of the Jewish Temple, using a whip. This incident, which is found in all four gospels, is often called the “cleansing of the Temple,” a title that reflects a bias in favor of Jesus over against the religious establishment (note, however, that in the Gospels, the word “cleansing” does not appear).
What does Jesus oppose here? Commercial exchanges in the Temple, which corrupt its holiness? Or does Jesus strike at the very existence of the Jewish Temple itself as mediator between God and the people in Judaism? Could it be that Jesus objects to the whole notion of there being a “holy place” – a building or portal to the divine – on earth?
The Gospel of John may contemplate that Jesus attacks not the Temple itself but instead the centrality of the Jerusalem Temple – and its priesthood – for worship. Accordingly, although Jesus himself is a Jew, the Jerusalem authorities nickname him a demon-possessed “Samaritan,” an ethnic slur which casts aspersions upon his religious rectitude.
For the Samaritans (who were also Jews) Mt Gerizim rather than Jerusalem housed their beloved shrine. Yet, in John 4, Jesus predicts that people will worship God neither in Jerusalem nor on Mt Gerizim but instead “in spirit and in truth”.
Jesus may object to the notion that there may be holy places and buildings, which mediate the divine presence. OR he may be critiquing the sectarian politics of his day, which created competition and tension among different sites that were sacred to different religious and ethnic groups. Today, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is fraught even still by conflicting cultic claims (among Jews, Christians, and Muslims).
Question: Where is a holy place for you? What does worship in “spirit and truth” mean?
John 2:13-12 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 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. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.