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LENT 3 You strode into the Temple, Lord

Herman Stuempfle, Jr. (1923-2007). Tune: Kingsfold


(For copyright reasons I cannot print the text, but find it here)


Jesus Cleansing the Temple. El Greco


Jesus has just been at the Wedding in Cana and now he has gone up to Jerusalem for the Passover. When he gets there he storms into the temple, enraged by the desecration he sees there. So he makes a whip out of some cords he finds and drives out the merchants and their livestock. Artists love to show his anger and the scattering of the animals and the surprise of the people. It is fairly impressive. What he starts is a theme of the rest of his life—that he is the temple now. The disciples would remember that after his death and resurrection, John says.

Christ Cleansing the Temple. Giotto

Jesus as the temple and then we as temples is a huge theme in Scripture, but in some ways hidden from us because we don’t read the whole Bible often enough. When I was writing Jesus the Harmony, (Fortress, 2021) it frequently struck me how  much one learns about Jesus from knowing the Old Testament. It is crucial to understanding who he is.


There are strong hints in the story of Eden that the garden is the temple--God dwells there--and when the couple sins, they are cast our of the temple and only have the promise in Genesis 3:15 to go on in faith. All the talk about the tabernacle in the story of the Exodus is temple talk—the place where God dwells--the cloud shows us that. Then the ark of the covenant, holding what the holy of holies in the temple will one day hold. The destruction of the temple during the Babylonian captivity is a deep psychic wound for the people of Israel. Herod’s rebuilding of the temple to please his subjects took forty six years, they tell Jesus when he makes what is to them an absurd claims that in three days he will build up the temple that is being destroyed. It was one of the largest buildings in antiquity so the idea of rebuilding it in three days rightly struck the people as outrageous. But Christ is the temple because God dwells in him. And where God is, there is the temple. And the temple will be raised up when he is raised up, after three days in the tomb. And likewise, we are temples because Christ dwells in us.


Jesus’ living in us means what Paul Gerhard says in his great hymn If God himself be for me, That when “Christ is with me, my heaven is begun.”


Christ cleansing the Temple Jan Sanders van Hemessen

This is maybe a hard thing to explain or believe, but one of the reasons believers can have courage against evil is that they know already they are living in true reality, where another rules and that ruler is for them. In fact, has given his life for them. And been raised from the dead.


The disciples know something is different about Jesus from the first. Later they will understand it and remember what he said. So it is with us, we go through something we don’t quite understand, and then upon reflection, we realize Christ was with us and our heaven had begun. Take that for all it is worth!


The Rev. Dr. Stuempfle, Jr, served the Lutheran church all his life. He lived in Gettysburg Pennsylvania for fifty years and taught at The Lutheran Theological Seminary there. He graduated from Susquehanna University and Gettysburg Seminary. He studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and received a doctorate from Clermont in California. A pastor in the United Lutheran Church of America, he served as President of Gettysburg Seminary. After his retirement he continued writing and lecturing on preaching, theology and history. His hymns are many, over 550, and usually on specific texts like this one. Scholars say as a preacher and teacher of preaching he always asked in his hymn texts, so what does this mean for today? He has earned a place in the pantheon of respected hymn writers in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Kingsfold is thought to be a Medieval English folk tune that Ralph Vaughan Williams discovered in Kingsfold, England. It is a popular tune for several hymn texts.


The hymn is sung and the text printed on the video

Hal Leonard Band playing Kingsfold


 NB: Here is the link to my latest book. It would help me a lot if more than 50 were pre-sold by March 15 at a lower price. Thank you!




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