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Cleansing the Temple (Rabel)

(Back) The Wedding at Cana Nicodemus and Jesus (Next)

This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Part of Lecture 6 given on January 23, 1976

Friends, it is significant that right after, within the same chapter of the same Gospel where Jesus has given an esoteric demonstration through this peculiar miracle, of the Truth of our Being, which is that we really are in the process of eternal improvement, that the very next act that He performs demonstrates dealing with some of the troublesome and imperfect parts of us which would interfere or obstruct this process of eternal improvement which is the cleansing of the temple, which is in the second chapter of John on page 25 of our Harmonies.

Now, you recall this incident when Jesus goes into the temple, and He finds there those who sold oxen and sheep, changers of money and merchandisers. He makes a scourge of cords (in other versions, it says small cords) and cast all out of the temple, the sheep and the oxen, and He overturned the money changers' tables and orders out the merchandisers. The disciples who witnessed this act gave it a wrong level of meaning, of interpretation, because it says, "The zeal of thine house shall eat me up." Then Jesus indicates that they are taking the wrong view of this when He says, "What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing thou doest these things?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." They thought He was talking about the building, but He was talking about His body, and it is then His disciples recall this and made the right connection of meaning. Now, even after we welcome into the realization that we are eternal, improving, unfolding, and that our real pathway of life is an eternal progress, it by no means says that everything has been taken care of and that we have no further concern about self-discipline and self-improvement. We can be gaining or growing and improving even with some faults and shortcomings and weaknesses occurring that could very much hinder or spoil a lot of the improvement we are making and that is all indicated with this symbolic incident here, the temple, of course, being our inner Being.

Later on Paul says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of the living God, that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" and again Paul says, "The temple of God, which temple ye are." So this identifies the meaning of the temple as our inner being. In the book, Talks on Truth, Charles Fillmore said that deep within the being of each man, there is a religious service going on conducted by the Christ. This service is going on all the time. Understand, Mr. Fillmore here is using figures of speech, imagery; and yet that is what it is, it is a worship service, a worship of God only, Creator, conducted by the Christ, and this is the spark at the very center of our inner being or our temple that keeps us alive, that keeps us going. It enables us to think and to feel and to be. Mr. Fillmore says that this inner worship service should be allowed to continue unobstructively, not to interfere with it because if it does go along as it should, we experience a wonderful sense of well-being, and we keep on unfolding according to the divine pattern; but if something impedes or obstructs this worship service, we feel such interference and we respond to it, and then dire results can occur. In this instance, there are three symbols mentioned which could constitute interference with the worship service in our temple: the animals, the merchandisers, and the money changers. Jesus, representing spiritual awareness, wants to let the true worship service in the temple to continue for our own well-being and for the Father's divine plan to be fulfilled. So He enters the temple and sees the interference and this would be correspondent to any time in our indivdual life when we turn within and with spiritual awareness observe the state of ourselves, observe the various factors that are part of our attitudes and part of our motivations, where our priorities really are at any given moment; and we may discover something which will call for some action on the part of our own spiritual awareness. Now, in this scene we have the animals, money changers and merchandisers being used as negative symbols; therefore, we must view them within a negative, we must find a negative meaning to view them within a negative. We must find a negative meaning to them. Ordinarily animals do not have a negative meaning in the Bible; they are quite innocent, harmless symbols, but when they are used in a negative sense, then the meaning becomes a little more specific. Although we are not told exactly what animals will stand for here, we have to make our choice of interpretation, and my choice based on inner observation, is that animals in this case, animals which could be interferring with a proper worship conducted within my temple, are unnecessary, uncontrolled emotions that I am letting run loose. Some animals are very cute, some are very pretty, some taste good, but their place is not to be running around loose in areas of us where worship of God should be our business. Unnecessary and undisciplined and uncontrolled emotions are my interpretation of these particular animals which constitute an interference.

You know the classic illustration of such, is the "Why is it that eves time I try to enter the silence and meditate and pray, which would be the worship service, certain anxieties, certain memories, certain desires will come in and draw my attention away?" There you have the symbol of an animal running loose on the premises, not that it is a bad animal, it has its place in your scheme of life, but its place is not in your meditation period. You will take, care of it later when feeding time or milking time comes, but, for the moment, the animal is an obstruction to your purpose at hand, and emotions really can be controlled. They can be in a sense, directed, not that they are to be denied or obliterated, point blank, but they will be reasonable. Drive them in a certain way and say, "I will take care of you when it is time to do so. I am not going to squash you, but go away."

A scourge of small cords could have two meanings: one could be effective use of denial, effective but not violent use of denial, small cords. Do You remember how Dr. Cady told us to use our denials, way back in Lessons in Truth 4 ? Gently, not violently, not screamingly. Use a little finesse, practice with small cords, and you can direct these emotions and drive them out of the foreground of your attention. So if you drive them out, it is enough. Now, merchandisers, to me, will stand for materialistic anxieties. You notice how these also can creep into your meditations, in your prayer times, in your silence, in your inner worship. We have heard people say, "Then I will start worrying about my husband's job, or what I am going to cook for supper." These materialistic anxieties fit into the meaning of merchandisers very well, and also Jesus orders them out. He does not kill them, He does not arrest them, He just orders them out. Merchandisers have their place, our materialistic anxieties do have a validity in our overall pattern of life, but not in our prayer times. Even if we are praying about a materialistic anxiety, we do not want to let the anxiety be part of prayer, but the thing that we are trying to solve in prayer. When we are praying, it is God and Truth and Spirit which we should be thinking about, and the anxieties will then be handled through the results of that.

Now, to me the most interesting, however, are the money changers. Since Jesus does not just order them out but he does something else in regard to them. He overturns their tables, and this is to me the needed clue for the meaning of the money changers. To me, the money changers in the temple who need their tables reversed in order to correct their situation, very logically, points to the idea of a money changer in my temple meaning any place in my inner being where I have established a wrong sense of values, a false sense of values, where I have put money ahead of worship; or, in other words, any sense of priorities or values I have allowed to be established in me where I am not putting God first, any sense of values or any sequence of priorities that I may have allowed to creep into me where in something other than God or Truth is first. That is a money changer in my temple, and when it says that Jesus overturns their tables in order to cleanse the temple, it tells me that anytime I allow my spiritual awareness to reverse a wrong sense of values or a wrong sequence of priorities, and when wrongness is reversed, what does it become? Rightness. Where I overturn a wrong priority or wrong sense of value, then that which comes first is God, the Truth. When these things are taken care of, when the unnecessary, uncontrolled emotions are directed to another area of attention, when my materialistic anxieties are also sent forth to another area of attention, and when I have brought into my worship, the understanding of values that put God first in all things, God's will first in all things, then maybe mine be done or maybe not, but God's will first. God's ideas, God's divine ideas first; then my thoughts based on those divine ideas, follow and in this business of God's will first, then I have desirable conditions in the temple within me, and my worship service will resume to fulfill its particular purpose.

One thing you will find if you teach this particular instance is, there will be many persons who are not yet at home in metaphysical thinking. They are not able to switch levels as you are, perhaps, and many of these persons will eventually; but until they can, you will find that the main thrust of their interest in things of the Bible would be the literal, historical, biographical, literal and they will want some response from you about that level. It is not polite for us to just say, "Well, we are not dealing with that." There are other ways of responding, and can you guess what question will come up in many of those person's minds about this incident, lovely as the metaphysical meaning will be? Those who still have attachment to the literal may have some hangups here. The question would be, "How could Jesus drive these people out of the temple?" Yes, the conduct of the person of Jesus in the actual scene. They may question it from a legal standpoint, from a Jewish cultural standpoint, or even from a moral-ethical standpoint; you know, and the defense often given is, and I think there is some validity in it, that here is an example of those occasions in life when righteous indignation is called for. When the end justifies the means, I think there is some validity there. I think we have to kind of stretch a point here and there on that level, but it is not totally invalid that even to a person who is into spiritual awareness, and I am feeling you are on this. I am asking for your opinion. I am not saying, give the right answer or the wrong answer, but can you feel, can you believe that either when a person is into spiritual awareness, since things are still not all perfect because we are in spiritual awareness, that there will be occasions in life when it will seem the most expedient and logical thing to do, to kick a few behinds. In the ideal we should say,"Oh, no, there are not behinds to kick because we are perfect children of God"; but we are not in the absolute environment yet, we are in the realm of relativity, which consists of so much give and take and I am my brother's keeper, and this and that. But once in a while, righteous indignation, just like Satan, has a validity.

Q. I don't see anything wrong with that as far as we are concerned, but I do find a contradiction as far as Jesus is concerned. You know, if he is the epitome of spiritual awareness, I think there is a contradiction between acting in this manner and what could be called spiritual awareness.

A. Ah, good point, except for one thing. I had to wrestle through this for a long time, and my conclusion may still not suffice, but it has helped me. Jesus does not stand for spiritual awareness, period, spiritual awareness in the abstract, but spiritual awareness as it grows and acts through man. Jesus is firmly connected with humanity as well as the absolute. The spiritual awareness which is not a set thing, static, but is also an evolving thing. I believe that many of the actions that Jesus performed wee not compulsions of His as if He just had to do it that way, but He was aware of His role in the human family. My feeling is He did many things to mirror back to us through Himself, through Himself, through His life, through the events, through His companions, things that we will duplicate, and if we learn them as part of the Truth, we will not get burdened with guilt or failure, we will see it as "I have come this far." This occurs very early in His ministry and it occurs again in a different setting, but I believe He is showing us some leniency here that until you reach the point where there is no longer any need in your manifesting life and environment to kind of use scourges of small cords and kind of display a bit of righteous indignation, since we do not know all the techniques of the perfect means, sometimes the end will justify less than perfect means.

Q. Do you think that indignation then means anger?

A. Here I believe the positive sense. There could be an element of that, since the disciples detected it, there must have been something.

Q. It is kind of ironic that the metaphysical meaning of the parable is having the emotions undercontrol rather than....

A. The end justifies the means ... no. Now we are speaking of the literal historical.

Q. Like I said, it is kind of ironic ...

A. It is a paradox, metaphysical paradox. Truth is full of paradoxes. Remember, He is not symbolizing the Christ yet. He is symbolizing spiritual awareness in different modes of expression, along with the human impulses and human tendencies. This is what makes Him so great. If He only came and demonstrated the Christ, we would not comprehend Him, really, because we do not comprehend the Christ, but we know it and believe in it.

Q. There is something that Bill Fischer mentioned, and I kind of like it. When the situations with Jesus displayed seeming violent action, like in the temple situation, this was not a permanent change that was made at that time, but the temples were later again built. At the times when He did display the Christ actions, they were not to change.

A. Absolutely. That is very good, because His act here perhaps cleansed that temple for one moment, but it did not change the customs or the thing and that, therefore, was a temporary thing.

Q. I think that we have to be aware of the fact that Jesus said, "I am in the world but not of the world." This showed that He had to work on two planes. He had to work on the world, too, and we are dealing with a period of history where men were not namby-pamby. It hink that Jesus realized that there were times when He had to demonstrate "strike"; otherwise people would not have looked at Him as a leader. That was not their concept of a leader, and Jesus had to show them that this is what a leader is, as it was a process and there were times probably where He had to get angry and He had to display the strength that people would like to see Him displaying. I think He did it.

A. I would soft pedal the anger part, though, because when you read it very carefully, you do not really get anger from there. We are implying that. I would soft pedal that, but zeal was certainly there, recognition of an undesirable state of affairs and the intensity of His conduct, at least temporarily, goes through the motions of correcting it.

Q. Making Jesus analogous to the parent and his children and our recognition that they need to learn some discipline that is involved in that experience, the parent needs to demonstrate firmness within love and understanding.

A. There would be definitely that element woven into it too, on this level.

Do you notice how we are doing a round robin here? Do you notice how one opinion only engender some more? Do you know, why? Because we are dealing with it on that duality level of literal, historical. No one of you felt the need to challenge me when I was dealing strictly on the metaphysical, because you saw the applicability of that, not only to your inner life, but to every human being's inner life; or perhaps we all now can see it a little more clearly, why the metaphysical level of meaning of the Bible seems to be the important thing.

Q. I would just like to add two words in the conversation which I either heard someone else mention, or I read somewhere, but they are important words; and I think they apply both to the metaphysical and the literal. The words are destructive hardness. We need to have this destructive hardness within us to be able to effectively deal with our inner being and the worship place inside, and we need to deal effectively in the outer world.

A. Those two words are interesting. Much later in the Gospel we will encounter scenes where Jesus teaches Truth and His listeners recognize it as Truth; but they say, it is too hard, too hard for them at that moment. So,that is a good word.

Q. You mentioned the possibility of someone asking for historical perspective when you are giving the metaphysical perspective. I was wondering, is it the ideal thing to present the historical, or would it be alright to give the historical perspective and then the metaphysical?

A. This is the way many of our teachers do, and they find it to be effective. That is the combined way. They will take some time to lay down the historical and then come into a metaphysical viewpoint concerning it. Now, in our courses, I do not have to do that because you have the entire course of historical approaches to the Bible, and most of the time I will just start out dealing with metaphysics. But in your center meetings, you are not going to have so many people who have had courses in Bible history, and it is your opportunity to subject them to both. If you do it skillfully, as I know you can, you will be able to very clearly see over a short period of time that people will want you to spend less and less and loss time on the literal historical.

Text of the original transcript from paragraph 6 on page 31 through paragraph 1 on page 36.
Transcribed by Mark Hicks on August 8, 2013