Short Meditations in John 2: 13. Disciples Understand
Jn 2:17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.
How often do we read Scripture and yet not take it in, I wonder? I don’t know how many dozens of times I must have read this verse and yet never really taken it in. It is an odd verse; it appears almost as a commentary on what is going on. Does it mean that at that moment his followers remembered that verse from Psalm 69 or was it years later as they reflected on what happened, they remembered that verse and saw it as an outworking of what happened here?
What did the original verse in Psalm 69 mean? “I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother’s sons; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.” (Psa 69:8,9) In its simplest outworking, David the author of the psalm laments that he stands out in his day as one who has a heart for the Lord and for His House, and that everyone else is apathetic if not hostile towards him, and thus he faces rejection.
Psalm 69 is quoted a number of times in the New Testament and is clearly seen as a messianic psalm and so it would naturally be taught as one applying to the Messiah, and perhaps as his disciples meditated on it in the years to come they remember this incident and see how it is a fulfilment of these words of David. Perhaps because it is linked with the messianic psalm is the reason why John quotes it here. It is yet another of his subtle and not so subtle ways of saying, Jesus is the One! He is the messiah! He is the Son of God!
What this verse and quotation does also do is create a sense of emotional passion to what has just happened. Jesus acts because what has been going on has been wrong but even more he acts because he has zeal for his Father’s honour. Dictionary definitions for ‘zeal’ are ‘intense enthusiasm, as in working for a cause; ardent endeavour or devotion; ardour; fervour’. Another way of putting it might be ‘strong emotional energy released in action for a cause’ and the cause in this case would be his Father’s honour.
Perhaps this should cause us to reflect on whether or not we are ‘moved’ by desire or concern for the Father’s honour. Is the Father honoured and glorified by the modern church? Does the state of the church and what it says about the Father move and stir me to action to improve it to honour the Lord in the eyes of the world?