[JOHN 2.13-2.35] Jesus Cleanses The Temple / Jesus of Montreal

JOHN 2.13-2.35

In the passage “Jesus Cleanses the Temple”, Jesus is depicted as a much more serious and violent persona. This Jesus that the reader sees is not the stereotypical, loving and compassionate teacher figure that is consistent throughout the bible. The book of John illustrates that Jesus too possessed humanlike characteristics, despite his divinity. While his behavior in this scene depiction shows a more human side to his character, his message,¬†“Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace”,¬†reestablishes the relational connection he has to an omniscient god, a connection that the Jews lack. John’s interpretation of Jesus’ character as the man sent from heaven, found in Erhman, is proven through this statement and the authority that it holds. The Jews then ask why he is entitled to such behavior and to give reasoning behind his authority to them. Jesus responds with direction to destroy the temple and a promise to “raise the temple three days after”. Jesus’ attempt to have the Jews understand his figurative reference to the temple of his body and his foreshadowing of his resurrection proves unsuccessful, for they believe that he is referring to the physical temple. His frustrations with the immoral partakers of the market exchanges is clearly depicted through John’s writing and his diction.

Christ Cleansing the Temple
Christ Cleansing the Temple

The passage directly prior to Jesus’ spurt of passionate rage gives an account of one of his seven miracles, The Wedding at Cana, from John. Nicodemus’ visit to Jesus comes directly after. These three passages are intertwined through the theme of Jesus’ desire for his followers to develop a much more devotional faith in him (and in the last two passages, the message of rewarding devout followers with eternal life is emphasized).

In the passage regarding the miracle at the wedding, Jesus’ disciples are strongly enthusiastic in their devotion to him following his miraculous conversion of the water to wine. However, it is clear that Jesus does not want proof-based devotion, but rather a more sincere and unquestioning type of loyalty. He quickly leaves Cana of Galilee after people begin to give him recognition for his abilities and not for the purposes behind them(John 2.11-12).

A progression in his disciples’ understandings of the underlying message of his teachings is clear in the last few lines of my passage of choice. It reads, “After he was raised from the dead…they believed…the word that Jesus had spoken.” Although his disciples are now finally able to grasp the complex teachings of Jesus after his death and resurrection, the quote, “…many believe in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them… for he himself knew what was in everyone,” shows that he was not satisfied that their faith had only grown stronger as a result of his physical miracle of resurrection. He did not want to be seen as solely a miracle worker or a healer, but a teacher and the Son of God. He needed his followers’ faith to be based off of trust in the scripture and its teachings, along with his own.

Lastly, and most apparently, Jesus’ hopes of developing his disciples faith in him is shown in a conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee who is seen as a leader of the Jews. Jesus criticizes Nicodemus’ inability to grasp the concept of eternal life and the resurrection, despite his distinguished position as a religious figure amongst the Jews. Although the Pharisee acknowledges Jesus’ godliness, he fails to comprehend the concept of heaven, a better existence that follows one’s worldly lifespan. Jesus goes on to describe his prophecy as God’s sacrifice to the world so that it may not be condemned, but saved (John 3.17-18). A further elaboration of the apocalypse follows as he goes on to say that only those who believe will experience a positive continuation of their spiritual existence. John again depicts Jesus’ struggle in having people understand his elaborate teachings and the true meanings behind written scripture.

The illustration of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is portrayed through a scene from Jesus of Montreal in a very contemporary and digestible manner. The character Daniel, who both literally acts as and symbolizes Jesus in the film, is shown angrily destroying film equipment and turning tables of an ad shoot. He even goes to the extent of driving out the casting directors. The casting directors for this particular shoot, much like the temple salesmen, are shown to advocate very sinful and immoral behavior. They provoke actresses to dress very promiscuously and to demean themselves for the sake of audience appeal and profit. Even the very product of alcohol that is being advertised is negative in nature. The correlation between the occurrences in the temple and the ad shoot are undoubtedly similar. Both Jesus and Daniel did not approve of the injustice that was occurring in their particular circumstances and so both chose to make a very upfront and intense expression of their disapproval for the greater good, or what they believed was the right thing to do.

Jesus of Montreal Video Reference

Christ Cleansing the Temple (image reference)

Getty Museum Painting of Same Temple Scene

Original Video Source

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