Purifying the temple

Jesus purified the temple twice, and he did it with violence. It was perhaps the biggest demonstration of force that our Lord carried out amongst men. They had profaned the temple –specifically the atrium– with merchants. Therefore, taking a whip of cords, He drove out those that bought and sold, and He told them: "My house, shall be called a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves."

Straightaway, the Scripture says that the blind and lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. The temple was sanctified and then immediately the Holy Spirit acted there to heal. The Lord cleaned that place.

So then, what is the temple for us? What does this action of the Lord mean that was so forceful? The temple is our body (1 Cor. 6:19). and it is in the body where the biggest daily fight is, where the passions that usually profane it are let loose. It is here where the merchant and the money changer are; and where there are animals trampling and dirtying everything.

Faced with that, the Lord used a whip. But he was not the only one who did it. The apostle Paul also did it, in the temple of his body: "...but I beat my body, and I make it my slave, so that having been a messenger for others, I myself might not be eliminated" (1 Co. 9:27). However, this 'beat the body' is not asceticism; nor is it annihilation by means of the rudiments of the world. The rudiments are not reliable, because they are destroyed with use, and they don't have any value against the appetites of the flesh.

Rather, it concerns keeping the body under control. If it is satisfied in all its desires, it will become an unsociable master. On the other hand, if it is restricted, it will learn how to be a servant.

Of the three parts that make up man –spirit, soul and body–, it is the body that is in most direct contact with the world. The body is more exposed, and it needs permanent attention. The body can drag us towards the vilest sins or it can be a sanctified temple, useful to the Lord.

Consecration begins with the body, as the apostle Paul teaches very well: "So, brothers and sisters, I beg you by the mercies of God that you present your bodies in living sacrifice, Holy, pleasing to God which is your reasonable service" (Ro. 12:1). But consecration doesn't remain there, it then passes to the heart. However, the body is the starting point.

The purification of the temple teaches us that sooner or later in the life of the Christian –and also from then on– it should be clear who's in control –with the whip of cords–, if it be the body or the spirit. Therefore a deep cleansing should take place so that the body doesn't lose the dignity of its calling, so that it may truly be a house of prayer and not a den of thieves.

The Lord purified the temple in Jerusalem twice, once at the beginning of His ministry, and again in the final week. This is a double lesson that we must never forget, neither at the start nor at the end.

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