Todd Marinovoch was the “first test-tube quarterback” (Sports Illustrated, “Learning to be Human Again”). Marv, Todd’s dad, stretched his son’s hamstrings at one month old, teethed him on frozen kidney, had him lifting medicine balls before he could walk, employed Eastern block training methods, and consulted wigh as many as thirteen experts (including biochemists and psychologists) to build his quarterback.
Now approaching fifty years old, Todd’s life is a wreck. SI says, “Todd has learned a term, ‘performance-based love,’ to describe the trauma of his youth.” Todd told his therapist about the time his dad grabbed him and ripped Marinovoch off his jersey screaming, “You don’t deserve to wear this name on your back!” Reflective Todd says, “The only time, perceived or real, that I felt loved, is when I was performing, which is super sick.” Todd believes if he had not turned to drugs, he would have killed himself. “No brainer,” he says, “I don’t know what else makes sense.” Performance-based love ruins lives and relationships. How do we break free from the dark power of performance-based love? How do we become human again? Welcome to John 2.12-22.
Many of you are thinking, “Geez Jeff! Pick the most extreme case possible why don’t you!” Ok, that is fair. However, what if the Bible picks the best people possible, the most moral people possible, the people everyone looks up to, the people you want your children to become, or the most successful people on the planet as examples of performance-based love? What would that mean?
In John 2.12-22 the most religious, moral, successful, bible-believing, respected, God following, law keeping, and holy people on the planet (the Jews) are blocking the Gentiles (non-Jews) from the gracious love of God. How? The answer is by placing all the animals necessary for the sacrifices, and all the money changers necessary to purchase those sacrifices with different currencies from all over the empire in the place of the Temple God reserved for Gentiles. How could these good people do such a thing, block others from God? The answer is because they are good people in their eyes. And the Gentiles are not. The good people are saying, “You don’t deserve to be here.” They are Marv. We are Marv. We build our lives and relationships around performance-based love.
This is why Jesus cleans out the Temple (verses 13-17). Jesus is driving performance-based love out of God’s presence, and the world. Jesus does what Adam failed to do. He drives the snake out of the world. He ends performance-based love. By making room for the Gentiles (the bad people, sinners) before God, Jesus unleashes a different kind of love into the word - a un-performed, unearned, unworked for love. In other words, a grace-based love.
At the Cross Jesus is consumed in the place of sinners (verse 17). Grace-based love has been set loose into the world. Be careful it might just reach and renew you.