Which country has neither temple nor church?

God is in the word

By Klaus Wengst | 19th August 2017

Devotion to the sermon text for the 10th Sunday after Trinity (Israel Sunday): John 2, 13-22

Sermon text
The Jewish Passover was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And in the sanctuary he found the traders selling cattle, sheep and pigeons, as well as the money changers sitting there. After making a whip out of ropes, he drove all of them out of the sanctuary, including the sheep and cattle, and poured out the change for the coin changers and overturned their tables. And to the pigeon sellers he said: “Get that away from here! Do not make my father's house a department store! ”His disciples recalled that it was written: Zeal for your house will consume me (Psalm 69:10). Then the Jews present spoke up and said to him: “With what kind of a sign can you prove to us that you are allowed to do this?” Jesus answered and said to them: “Destroy this temple! And in three days I will raise him up. "Then said these Jews:" This temple was built for 46 years. And you - you want to raise him up in three days? ”However, he spoke of his body as a temple. Now when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said that. So they believed the scriptures and the word that Jesus had spoken.
Translation: Klaus Wengst

Israel Sunday. We have finally recognized that God's covenant with his people Israel has not been revoked. And then this sermon text ?! Doesn't Jesus' action in the temple show that it no longer has any meaning? Since and through Jesus' death and resurrection, what happens in the temple no longer applies? Those who believed in him as the Messiah at the time did not mean that. Of course, they went on to the temple, including Paul. Jesus calls the temple "my father's house". His action is interpreted with Psalm 69:10: as zeal for the house of God. How should he not be jealous for him? Because the temple is the place of God's special presence.

When John wrote his gospel, the temple had already been razed to the ground by the Romans in AD 70. Now where was the presence of God? John replied to this by stating that Jesus spoke of his body as a temple when he spoke of the "setting up" of the temple. So he, Jesus, is the place of God's presence. But after his death, Jesus is no longer there in person. Then how can he vouch for the presence of God?

At the end of the text it says of the students when they “remembered” after Jesus “being raised”, his resurrection from the dead: “They believed the scriptures and the word that Jesus said.” Jesus is there in the word that now ascribes the presence of God. With what he has said, done and suffered, he is there in the words of the four Gospels, in the word that has already been interpreted differently by them, which wants to be interpreted again and again. And next to and in front of the word of Jesus stands "Scripture", the Jewish Bible. It was the Bible of Jesus and that of the evangelists. The word of Jesus does not stand in isolation; it is based on this scripture.

Listening to Scripture, orienting life towards it, especially its first part, the Torah: That was what made it possible for Judaism, which did not believe in Jesus as Messiah, to survive after the catastrophe of the year 70 with the destruction of the temple it assured the presence of God. In every synagogue, the Torah scroll used in it for reading turns its storage location into arón ha-kódesch, the “holy ark”, corresponding to the ark of the covenant that was in the holy of holies of the first temple in Jerusalem. Heinrich Heine spoke of the Torah as the “portable fatherland” of the Jewish people. God's story with him did not end either with Jesus' death and resurrection or with the destruction of the temple. She went on and she went on. In exile after the destruction of the first temple, a prophet relies on the weak word against the powerful violence experienced here and says in good defiance: "But the word of our God remains forever" (Isaiah 40: 8). This is included in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:25) and is also under the Barmer Theological Declaration of 1934. God is in the Word. God is in the word. God keeps his word. Jews and Christians trust this.

Israel Sunday. I especially dream about him that in the not too distant future it will happen at community level what I was able to experience with individual Jews in the academic field and at church congresses. That Christians and Jews learn from one another and with one another while reading Bible texts together with mutual respect and respect for lasting differences - and allow themselves to be comforted by God's Word.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, open our ears and hearts to your word. Let us trust what you promise us and follow what you command. Make us ready and capable of reliable partnership with your people Israel. Amen.

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