24 January 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.” (John 2:-1-2)
“And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:13-16; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
The Gospel of St. John begins the Gospel very appropriately – “In the Beginning.” (1:1) The beginning of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ begins in the same ‘Beginning’ as related in both Genesis and this Gospel under study. “In the Beginning” – God! “In the Beginning” – the WORD! Our Lord is revealed in the very first verse of the Bible and is reiterated here in the Gospel of St. John. In the beginning, God ordained one institution – that of the Holy Estate of Matrimony: “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24)
Now, John reveals the sanctity in which God holds marriage between one man and one woman by performing His first miracle at a wedding. It was intended to be a foreshadow of the second institution God would ordain between Christ and His Church. It is for this reason that any perversion of the estate of Holy Matrimony is an abominable affront to the Holiness of the character of God. Jesus performed His first recorded miracle in John’s Gospel at a Wedding event. It served as a reminder of the importance that marriage should reflect the same relationship that has ever existed between Christ and the Church.
The Church was to become pure and undefiled by the labors of love between a man and his wife. The same is true of the Church. The Church cost not only God the Son a tremendous price, but perhaps an even greater cost to God the Father as He allowed His only Begotten Son to die at the hands of brigands and sinners.
The Church requires purging from time to time to sustain its purity. It was not to be a House of Merchandise in which men lined their pockets with filthy lucre, but rather a House of Prayer.
According to John, the second act of the ministry of Christ, following His baptism and temptation in the Wilderness, was to evacuate the Temple in Jerusalem of all merchandisers and money changers. What is the greater message in this second act? The Church was not to exist on the treasures of mammon, but upon the honest labors of believers. Constant appeals for money by TV evangelists, car washes, and yard sales should not characterize the holiness of God’s Church. “And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:15-16) How many church leaders are willing to disregard this principle in the operation of the Church. How many pastors are making a salary of 200 thousand, plus all expenses, on the backs of the offerings of the poor and impoverished widows from whom they demand a tithe?
Jesus never had a fancy church building with tall spires and elaborate furnishings. The bare slopes of the mountain, or the peaceful shores of the sea, suited Him fine. The building structure itself is not the Church. The Temple of God is in the hearts of men and women who have received redemption through the shed blood of their Maker.
Though there is nothing wrong with having a decent place to gather, the PLACE is not the principal thing – it is the faith of those gathered about. “For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there I am in the midst of them,” (Matthew 18:20) says our Lord. The Church today needs a fourth cleansing; the first is recorded here, the 2nd occurred less than a week before His crucifixion: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:12-13) “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called”. (Isaiah 54:5)