I have a framed print of the Albrect Durer woodcut of Jesus cleansing the Temple in my office. My wife gave it to me on my first day of work. I had preached a sermon on this text as a part of my very first job interview. Come to think of it, that was 12 years ago this Sunday (according to the church calendar). Four lectionary cycles ago.
This is an important text. All four Gospel writer include some version of it. Although, each puts it to slightly different use. Most of them link it somehow to the end of Jesus’ ministry. Though, one puts it earlier.
The framed print – really just a print out, but it was the thought that counts – is busy, like you would expect from a woodcut. It’s also a bit fuzzy. The frame sits high on a shelf and most folks don’t recognize it. Those that do ask, “hey Art, what’s going on in that picture.” All of these things are metaphors, I think for the story itself. The story, itself, is busy and a bit confusing. Many don’t know about it at all. Those that do, wonder.
Jesus is doing a “prophetic act.” He’s breaking-up what he believes to be an illegitimate use of the Temple, sure. But he is also putting on a show and making a sign. Not everyone in Jerusalem would take notice of what Jesus had done. Jerusalem was a busy place. But, those that did would wonder what it was all about.
The framed print of Durer’s woodcut, for all its simplicity, is one of my most prized possessions. It sits in my office where I can see it clearly. See it clearly and wonder about the busy, cloudy, confusing, sign-laden scene that it describe.