Sign of the Cleansing of the Temple

Sign of the Cleansing of the Temple

Temple cleansed. A Sign.

(The Gospel History, Section 21)

And the passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and he made a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables; and to them that sold the doves he said, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise. His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house shall eat me up. The Jews therefore answered and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spake this; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

Sign of the Cleansing of the Temple

(The Saviour of the World, Vol I Book III Poem VII)

The Cleansing of the Temple by Bassano

Since His twelfth year, He year by year went up
To the temple with His kinsfolk. But this year
The Lord of the temple to His temple came,
Messias before men to manifest!

And worthy of Messias, sure, a pile
More vast, magnificent, costly in detail
Of marble, gold, rare stone, and carvenwork
Than any building earth sustains to-day!

Little knew Herod he had raised a palace
Greater than that of Solomon;—for why?
Greater than Solomon should go in and out,
Should teach and heal within those holy precincts,
Should there first utter words, sounding to-day
To His kingdom’s utmost verge, words of our life!
The King had come to the house prepared for Him
Of His Father, through King Herod’s liberal care—
Unworthy he to know grace laid on him!

All that vast reach of cloisters, hemming in
The outer court of the temple, searched His eye;
Corinthian pillars, white, innumerous,
Of purest marble, delicately wrought,
Of height surpassing and majestic grace,
Reaching toward the heavens,—fitting were these
For His Father’s house, made ready for the Son.

But what of them who occupied their business
In these fair chambers? The Lord of the house hath come:
What meaneth then that lowing in His ears,
Lowing of cattle, innocent cry of lambs,
Cooing of turtle doves in sacred place,
And, worse offence, that clink of many coins
Changed at the dealers’ tables? He is come
That should come! Scourge of small cords He grasps,
And this slight weapon, plied with burning zeal,
Sufficeth all the horde to drive before Him:—
The lusty butcher used to handle beasts
Immense and furious, money-changers’ greed
Stronger than ten strong men,—of what avail
That any should resist the arm of God
Wielding His lightest weapon? Forth they go,
An ignominious crew, nor dare to seize
On coin or beast of all their greedy store:
One Man drave forth the money-getting crowd,
Their beasts and they quailing before the Judge!
And John, who saw all, held the sight in his heart,
And knew thenceforth, Wrath of the Lamb, how dread!

“Make not my Father’s house a house of sales!”
Cried He whose house it was. And all at once
The disciples bethought them of that word of prophet,
“The zeal of Thine house shall eat me up!” and knew,
With sudden rapture, sign of the Messiah!
Scared in their pride, the Jews, the priests, stand by;
They see a sign, they know it for a sign,
But have not grace of truth sign to receive.
As cobwebs swept He specious pleas aside:
‘’Tis well that beasts for sacrifice be close
At hand, lest the people’s zeal to offer cool;’
‘They come from far, here let them change the coins
They bring, for pieces meet for temple dues:’
‘Why hinder we the ignorant, hither come
To do God service?’ None of this they plead;
Christ’s word about a place of merchandise
Had found them out; they, too, were traffickers,
And knew the rebuke for them; not for nought
Had they afforded all these stalls to merchants!
Swift to the mark goes every word of His,
And, cowed, they ask for sign that they might know
By what authority He did these things.

“A sign?” saith He: “Destroy ye this fair temple,
In three days I will raise it up again!”
They, hearing, understood not; how could they
Receive that doctrine of the holy place
God made in each man for His habitation?
“Full six and forty years,” they said, “this temple
Was building! Wilt thou raise it in three days?”
But of the temple of His body spake He:
When on third day He raised Him from the dead,
The Eleven remembered how He said this thing,
And all the more believed and knew the truth.

Men say, “Now, love we but our fellow-men,
And all the secret know we of Christ’s grace;
A passion moved Him, all-consuming love
For the weak and helpless, pity for the lost:
Let us but burn with love for suffering men,
And so are we disciples of the Christ,
Name we His Name or not, as pleaseth us!”

But, as through same grey skies breaks sudden light
And glorifies a space the common earth,
So through the dull complexion of the days
He walked with men as Man, sudden brake forth
A glory—the master-passion of our Master!—
“My Father’s business” and “My Father’s house,”
“My Father worketh hitherto,” and, “I
And My Father are one,”—as when cloak blown
Aside by wind reveals rich garb beneath,
Such glimpse get we, through words He spake by times,
Of passion serene, enthusiasm meek,
Ideal, burning zeal, in heart of Christ:
“My Father,”—lo, fresh spring of all His days!
Sole Origin and End of all His ways;
And for His Father’s love of men He died!
“But He, too, loves us?” Yea, verily, for He
And the Father, One! How should He save us else?

St. John ii. 13–22

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