Cleansing the Temple Meditation: Lent 3 2021

During the season of Lent, my husband, Pastor Patrick Sipes, will be our guest blogger with a series of tactile meditations exploring Sunday’s Gospel text. He is currently serving as the transitional minister at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in North Platte, Nebraska, and will be inviting congregation members into these meditations in worship. May God bless you as you explore Scripture through Prayer.

Items needed: a few strands of yarn

Spindle Whorl and Loom Weights by Giles Watson on

As we reflect on Jesus cleansing of the temple this morning, you will need a piece of string or yarn, preferably with several strands to it. As you pray you may feel most comfortable just holding the string in your hands, or if you are more of an active person, feel free to pull the strands of string apart as you reflect, and use them to make a “whip of cords” as Jesus did.

As we begin, we look at the words, “But he was speaking of the temple of his body.” We do this, because as we change the events of the day from an actual to a metaphorical one, it allows us to begin moving from Jesus cleansing the Temple in Jerusalem, to Jesus cleansing the temples of our bodies.

We begin with the cattle and the sheep that Jesus drives out. These animals were in the temple to make offering a sacrifice easier, but as animals go, they were loud, they had a tendency to not smell so good in afternoon sun, they could be dangerous if they were not controlled well enough, and Jesus drove them out. I invite you as you reflect on the whip that you hold, to bring to mind the cattle and sheep that roam in your life. Those parts that are too loud for your liking, those parts that don’t smell so good to you, those parts that can be dangerous if they get out of control and that you work too hard to keep under control. Those parts you’ve tried to shake but just don’t seem able to do…

(Take time to reflect on the sheep and cattle that roam in your temple.)

Hear this, know this, Jesus is here to drive those things out of you. Jesus is here to clean your temple, and to make you clean.

Jesus also turns over the tables of the money changers. These people were there to change foreign money to Hebrew money that was acceptable in the temple, and to turn a tidy profit for themselves as they did so. In our lives, we do not always act fairly either. As you reflect on the whip that you hold, bring to mind those places in your life where you are not fair to others…

(Take time to reflect on those places where you are a money changer that treats others unfairly.)

Hear this, know this, Jesus is here to upset the ways in which you treat others unfairly, to turn over the tables on which you work your injustice, and to bring your temple into right relationship with others. 

Jesus tells those who sell doves, “Get these things out of here.” Doves were meant for the poor, an acceptable substitute sacrifice for those who could not afford something better. In our lives, there are many things that make us feel unworthy of God, or that we feel are unworthy to give to God. In other words, we feel poor in God’s sight and so we bring our doves, our substitute offering that marks us as poor to all who can see. As you reflect on your whip, bring to mind those places in your life that you feel poor in God’s sight, those places where you do not feel worthy, those places where you substitute something less when what you have is something more…

(Take time to reflect on where you feel poor in God’s eyes.)

Hear this, know this, Jesus is here to tell you get those things out of here, Jesus is here to tell you, you are enough, you have great things to give to him, you are richly blessed by the Holy Spirit.

As your temple is swept clean by Jesus, enjoy the openness, enjoy the peacefulness, enjoy the more easy connection you find there with God.


If you would like to explore this text as a family devotion, check out my post for Lent in a Dish 2021 on Family God Time:

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