This Week’s Passage:
I. Establish the text
A. Select the Pericope: Luke 19:45-48
C. Other texts for Committed to Christ: Worship
- Esther 4:15-17
D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?
I do this early, before researching the passage influences my questions.
45 – – “began to drive out” masks the conflict this must have caused and the rage Jesus must have felt.
46 – – How do we divert our sanctuary from being a place of prayer? When do bake sales, dinners, and other fund-raisers shift the focus of a congregation from worshiping God to working to pay the mortgage and utilities?
47a – – After initiating change, Jesus stayed, deterring the leadership from restoring their old ways.
47b – – How might we respond to an outsider attempting to change how we use our worship space? Would we have them arrested? Sue them for every penny they had?
48 Great worship and teaching draw the crowds needed to maintain an institution.
E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?
- Preceded by the crowd joyfully celebrating Jesus entering Jerusalem and his weeping while prophesying the destruction of the Temple due to the Jews not recognizing Jesus doing a new thing.
- Followed by the Temple leadership questioning Jesus’ authority to teach.
II. Literary Study.
B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?
Mark 11:11, 15-19 – Describes Jesus’ actions: overturning tables and preventing bringing merchandise into the temple. This appears as a one time event after which Jesus left the city.
Matt. 21:10-17 – Follows Mark’s account, adding healings, teaching children to sing Hosanna. The Temple leadership note the “wonderful things” but remain indignant.
John 2:13-22 – Explains how Jesus threw out the merchants using a whip and scattering coins. When the leadership demands a sign to validate his authority, Jesus predicted his resurrection.
C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms
“began to drive out” – 2 words in Greek. The word for “he began” was also used for “he ruled”. The word for “to drive out” was used for physically throwing out. Hence: CEB – “he started chasing out”; MSG – “he began to throw out”.
D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?
Compared with parallel passages, Luke’s account efficiently captures the scene, keeping the focus on restoration of worship as a daily practice, rather than a one time upheaval.
III. Question the text.
A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.
Jesus boldly restores the focus on community worship.
The leadership would commit murder to restore their usual practice of linking merchandising to Temple practices.
The crowd readily shifts to listening to Jesus.
C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?
- Center of gravity: Restoring a regular practice of worship preserves the institution.
- Emotional Center: Casting out old ways requires energy with great risk.
D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.
- The overt conflict is between the religious leadership and Jesus over the practice of selling animals for sacrifice and having the right coins. The important conflict is between relevant teaching and worship to preserve the institution versus raising funds.
E. Is there anything you wish the author had included in the passage? Why do you think this was not a part of Scripture?
- Parallel passages amplify what was thrown out and how Jesus did it. Those passages shift the focus from what was gained.
F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?
- John’s vivid account of Jesus making a whip and upsetting tables will inform the congregation of Jesus purging the Temple, allowing the preacher to focus on the restoration of teaching.
IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?
Fred B. Craddock (Interpretation: Luke. JKP, 1990.) attributes the shortness of Luke’s account of the cleansing of the temple to his positive view of that institution (p 229). Craddock notes that the Temple suffered the same fate as any institution: in providing a place where people could come before God, it was perceived as housing God, thus giving those who minister in the temple more authority than they have the character to handle and confusing the place with God.
R. Alan Culpepper (The New Interpreter’s Bible, “The Gospel of Luke.” Abingdon, 1995.) partitions the text to place the cleansing of the Temple with Jesus weeping over the city which he separated from Jesus’ procession into the city. He notes that the type scene expects the arrival of the king to culminate with the king entering the temple and offering a sacrifice. Luke broke the type regal entrance scene there by using the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE to make a theological point: “they had not recognized ‘the things that make for peace’.” He opines listing tragic events of our day before which Christ must have wept of our failing to recognize the things that make for peace. Culpepper parses verses 47 and 48 as introducing chapters 20 and 21 as a series of Jesus’ teachings in the temple.
V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?
Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond
A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?
Jesus upset traditions to reorient the Temple for worshiping God.
C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?
How can we keep our worship together focused on God?