FreerangeFriday: Cleansing the Wilderness

by Lilly Lewin
Pieter Aertsen Christ cleansing the Temple

By Lilly Lewin

Consider the Wilderness of Life.

Jesus is with us in the wilderness of life…Jesus is with us in the wilderness of the world we live in the marketplace of real life. How does this make you feel? Where have you felt the love of Jesus in your regular life this week? Take time to thank Him.

Jesus is in the wilderness with us in Churchland….In the wilderness of Churchianity too!
In what ways would you like to see Jesus” clean house “ ?
Take time to pray for the Church in your country and take time to pray for your own church community.

The Gospel Reading for this week is John 2:13-25…When Jesus goes to the temple and cleans house! What does the Holy Spirit highlight for you today as you read or listen to the passage?

JOHN 2:13-25 NIV
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[a]
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.[b] 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.


JOHN 2:13-25 First Nations Bible
13The time of the year had come for the ancient Passover festival. Creator Sets Free (Jesus) made his way to the Great Spirit’s lodge in Village of Peace (Jerusalem).
This was the custom for all the families of the tribes of Wrestles with Creator (Israel).
He came into the area in the lodge called Gathering Place for the Nations. It was here that other nations could come to learn about the Great Spirit and his ways.
14As Creator Sets Free (Jesus) entered the lodge, he saw people sitting at money tables. There were also others who were trading, buying, and selling the cattle, sheep, and doves for the ceremonies—inside the lodge!
It was so crowded that there was no room for the people from other nations who had come to learn about the Great Spirit. They were not honoring the purpose of this holy place.
15So Creator Sets Free (Jesus) took some leather straps and made a whip. He cracked the whip to startle and move the animals, and to drive all the people from the lodge. He tipped over the tables, which scattered their money on the floor. 16He then turned to speak to the ones who were selling the ceremonial doves.
“Go!” he roared at them. “Take these things out from here. Do not make my Father’s sacred lodge into a trading post!”
17The ones who walked the road with him listened and remembered the ancient prophecy, “My desire to honor your sacred lodge burns like a fire in my belly.”
18“What gives you the right to do these things?” the tribal leaders said to him. “Prove yourself and show us a sign!”
19“Tear down this sacred lodge,” he answered, “and in three days I will raise it up again.”
20The people shook their heads and said to him, “It took forty-six winters to build this great lodge. How could you raise it up in three days?”
21They did not understand that he was speaking about the lodge of his own body. 22After he was raised up from the dead, his followers remembered what he said and then believed the ancient Sacred Teachings and the words he spoke to them.
23During the Passover festival many people began to believe in him because they saw the powerful miracles he was performing. 24But he did not trust himself to them, for he could see right through them. 25He did not need anyone to tell him about human beings, for he knew the hearts of humankind.

What do you notice that you haven’t before? 

What questions come up for you? 

What are the invitations from Jesus in the passage?

Maybe you were like me growing up.You weren’t really allowed to have an angry Jesus or to show or express anger yourself!  This passage gives me freedom to express my frustration with what is happening in the world

I want so much to cleanse the temple right now.
I don’t even go to “regular “church!
But I want to go in and turn over the tables of the pastors and leaders who are mixing politics with worship
Those who are afraid and
Who are teaching their people to be afraid too!
Those who are teaching their people to BE HATERS rather than to love
To use guns rather than to serve and wash the feet of the marginalized.
I really want Jesus to come and cleanse the temple again, please!

I realize that I too am afraid.
I am afraid of who I am becoming…a person of fear rather than faith
A person who is filled with anger rather than love and peace
A person who is finding it VERY hard, extremely hard, to love my enemies and believe in God’s best for them .

I need my temple court cleared of all the clutter! Cleared of the animals of fear and bitterness and hate!
I need the tables I have erected for protection to be overturned so that I can truly love.
I need the court of my heart cleared so that there is room for others not just myself. Even for those who feel like my enemies!

“Jesus is angry about this, and many use this passage to justify violence because Jesus appears pretty violent here. But note that he’s violent toward things, not toward people. He’s liberating animals and trying to liberate the poor from their oppression. Of course, the religious leaders want to protect the building, the temple, but Jesus is redefining the temple. He identifies his body as the temple (John 2:21). The new temple is the human person; we are the body of Christ.

We see Jesus making this great revolution, transforming religion from a concern for sacrifice to earn God’s love to trust through which we know God’s love. And where does that trust happen? In the human heart.”

Father Richard Rohr

What sparks your attention in this quote?


Lent is a time for cleansing and clearing out the wilderness of our lives…

What is in the wilderness of your regular life like at the moment? The stuff that is getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus?

Draw out a picture of a table or find one in a magazine and write down the things that are blocking your heart and cluttering the temple of your life right now. Or just sit and look at your coffee table or a table near you. What tables need to be cleared away, turned over,  in order to have more space for other people, and for Jesus? What have you been filling your temple court with rather than space for love and worship? Ask Jesus to show you and allow him to cleanse you!

 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1JOHN 1:8-9


“Cleansing the Temple” by Malcom Guite, Sounding the Season

Come to your Temple here with liberation
And overturn these tables of exchange

Restore in me my lost imagination
Begin in me for good, the pure change.

Come as you came, an infant with your mother,

That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground

Come as you came, a boy who sought his father

With questions asked and certain answers found,

Come as you came this day, a man in anger

Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through

Face down for me the fear the shame the danger

Teach me again to whom my love is due.

Break down in me the barricades of death

And tear the veil in two with your last breath.


”If we are to become living sanctuaries worthy of the indwelling of God’s Spirit, to become the body of Christ, we must work as Jesus did to cleanse or dismantle the structures of oppression and exclusion that threaten our houses of prayer. We must embrace the Jesus with the whip as well as the babe in the crib or the one that hangs limp on the cross. For the temple may be destroyed but he will rise after death.”

Rev Loren McGrail, United Church of Christ / National YWCA of Palestine

LISTEN TO SERMON by Father Richard Rohr on this passage from John

MAIN ART WORK Pieter Aertsen  (circa 1508–1575)

©lillylewin and

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