Year B Lent 3 John 2
Clean House
John 2:13-22

The portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Gospel appointed for this day has proven to be something of a conundrum for interpreters through the years. What we see is the Lord Jesus in a violent rage driving animals and people out of the Temple. Years ago Bruce Barton, in a very popular book, The Man Nobody Knows, used the story to demonstrate how virile the Lord Jesus was. He surmised that the Lord Jesus was capable of Herculean strength and prowess because of his outdoorsy lifestyle and vigorous walking missionary tours. However, others have been concerned that this public demonstration which had all the earmarks of a near riot was most unbecoming of the normal life style of Jesus. Also, if this were a pique of temper, could not someone accuse Jesus of being guilty of a sin which all of us dislike very much?

Then, of course, there is the additional problem of finding this story in the beginning of the Fourth Gospel, whereas the other evangelists place it in Holy Week at the beginning of his passion. Could it be true that Jesus cleansed the Temple twice? Is John right and the others wrong? Or is it the other way around? Or could there be another reason why John places the story where he does? There is good reason to think that it is the latter. The story of Jesus cleansing the Temple helps us to understand several very important aspects of the church and its worship.

  1. The Context and the Importance of the Temple
  2. The Shock of Challenging an Old System
  3. The Body of the Church and the Sacramental Body
  4. Our Worship in the Spirit of the Lord

A Brand New Church Out of an Old Brand
1 Corinthians 1:18-35

Who says it's a "brand" new world?

I'll bet every one of you can fill in the best-known product that goes with each of the following brand names. Let's try it.

  • Wrigley
  • Singer
  • Gillette
  • Nabisco
  • Kellogg's
  • Kodak
  • Sherwin Williams
  • Del Monte
  • Campbell's
  • Levi
  • Coca-Cola

  • These are the brands that built America. Each one of them was established with its basic product before 1925. Each one is still totally recognizable all these years later.

    The term "brand" originally derived from the stamping or marking of cattle or sheep for identification purposes. Outside of that use, branding usually had a negative connotation. Slaves, criminals, and adulterers were branded or tattooed to indelibly mark their disgraces. To wear the mark of Cain or be branded a liar instantly attached a whole catalog of incrimination and innuendo to any individual so named.

    Today brands get just as strong a reaction from us, but generally on a far more benign level. To us branding involves attaching a name or reputation to something. Over time, with enough exposure and constant reinforcement, the reality of a brand becomes what happens when someone sees an image and forms associations, values, and a kind of internal relationship with that brand.

    Is there any manufacturer who doesn't want their product to have a strong brand with an unclouded image? The stronger the image projected, the stronger the relationship forged between brand and customer. Let me show you how deep this branding goes, and how every one of you here this morning associates a certain reputation with a particular brand, and trusts that brand to always deliver on that reputation.

  • Did your Dad always buy a Ford, never a Chevy? (Or vice versa?)
  • Do you ever worry whether your Coca-Cola will be flat or taste funny?
  • Does anyone ever trade in a John Deere?
  • How many kids want to wear sneakers that don't have some basketball star's name emblazoned on them?
  • If price were no object, wouldn't you really rather fly United than JetBlue?
  • Don't Cheez-Its just taste better than any other cheese cracker?
  • Despite the fact they don't want anything but the plastic toy, what child doesn't beg for a Happy Meal? (Our vegetarian friends even get them, with no meat in the bun!)
  • So what unshakable image, what instant message, pops into most people's head when they hear the brand Christianity...? presents Leonard Sweet