Not many folk connect this amazing promise of the near-death Jesus with his actions in Jerusalem at the beginning of his public life (see bold above). Yet in both Jesus refers to “my Father’s house.” In this beginning case he seems to be referring to the Temple in Jerusalem but is that really so? In fact, if one reads it carefully, the actions of Jesus were upon people. It was on “those who were selling oxen and sheep...” and on “the money-changers sitting” and on “those selling the pigeons.” These people had to be removed from “my Father’s house.”
What wrong were they doing? Jesus said, “do not make my Father’s house a house of trade…” The original Greek word which John used – now translated “trade” – was not quite that. It was emporiou. It strictly means buying and selling. Surely there’s nothing wrong with buying and selling? Maybe not but what Jesus spoke about was “a house of buying and selling”; a whole world made up of it.
What do you think? Was Jesus merely concerned that buying and selling was being done in a magnificent building erected by King Herod in an act of self-aggrandisement that attempted to conceal his murderous nature? Was Jesus really anxious about profaning this particular building which he said was to be destroyed – and which was completely destroyed in AD 70?
Or was there something inherently wrong with buying and selling – something totally the opposite of what “my Father’s house” was all about? Was buying and selling also something quite alien to the “my Father’s house” within which Jesus is preparing a place for those who truly follow him?
Those whose life was spent supporting the Jerusalem temple in Jesus’ day were supporting buying and selling. John records that they did more direct buying and selling. They bought Jesus himself for 30 pieces of silver. They paid that to Judas so he would give Jesus to them. They then had Jesus disposed of – killed. What a bargain. They gained.
Truly, as Jesus’ followers recalled at the beginning, Jesus’ zeal for “my Father’s house” would, as prophesied centuries earlier, consume him – eat him up.
When we buy and sell, do we not consume one another? The buyer thinks he has done well over the seller. The seller things he has done well over the buyer. We all buy and sell so as to make money – money for us to consume at the expense of others.