Cleansing the Temple
(Photo by Adam Kring on Unsplash)
Zeal for your house consumes me...
Did you know that Jesus cleansed the temple two different times during His three-year ministry? The first time was soon after His first miracle at the wedding celebration in Cana, and the second occurrence took place a few days before He was arrested. Both accounts happened at the time of Jewish Passover, and are similar, but there are some significant differences. Besides being almost three years apart, the first cleansing (Jn 2:12-25) involved Jesus making a whip of cords, accusing the sellers and money changers of turning His Father's house into a market, and confronting the Jewish leaders saying, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." During the second cleansing (Matt 21:12-13; Mk 11:15-17; Lk 19:45-46), Jesus quoted from Isaiah 56:7: "It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer," and accused the money changers and sellers of turning it into a den of thieves. The lame and blind immediately came to Jesus in the temple and were healed, and the children shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David," which brought reproach by the Jewish leaders (Matt 21:14-17). Today, we are going to focus on the first account that happened at the beginning of Jesus' ministry.
JESUS CLEARS THE TEMPLE USING A WHIP OF CORDS
After the wedding celebration in which Jesus turned water into wine, He went to Capernaum for a few days with His mother, brothers, and disciples. And because it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, they continued to Jerusalem. Jesus went to the temple and saw something He didn't like. In the temple court, He found money changers and men selling cattle, sheep, and doves. Either this wasn't a proper place to do these transactions, or Jesus knew the men were taking advantage of the Jewish people who had traveled there. Part of the Passover was presenting a sacrifice, and many people would want to get their animal after they arrived. The corrupt priest, Annus, was conspiring with the Gentiles to make a profit by selling animals at exorbitant prices. A temple tax of a half-shekel was also required and involved exchanging money. Again the Gentiles and corrupt temple leaders further oppressed the people by charging a service fee for the exchange.
God's house is holy. Jesus saw what money changers and sellers were doing and took action. He made a whip out of cords and drove everyone out. Jesus turned over the tables, scattering the coins. He said, "Get out of here! How dare you turn My Father's house into a market!" The people all ran out. The temple was cleansed. The disciples recalled that it is written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." They saw His zeal firsthand. Knowing Jesus' passion for the purity of His Father's house, do you think it has any implications for us as believers today, seeing as we are the temple of the Holy Spirit?
THE JEWISH AUTHORITIES CONFRONT JESUS
Can you imagine the embarrassment the temple leaders were feeling, not to mention the loss of money that day? How dare this man come in and disrupt everything they were doing. They demanded that He show them a miraculous sign to prove He had the authority to do what He did. Of course, Jesus didn't perform a miracle for them. Remember, Jesus listened to His Father, not man. But He did answer them in a different way. Jesus told them to destroy this temple, and He would raise it in three days. He was talking about His body and referring to what would happen in three years when they would crucify Him, and He would come back to life. But the leaders didn't understand any of this; they were thinking about the literal temple they were standing in. It took forty-six years to build, and Jesus thought He was going to do it in three days? Ridiculous! Not even the disciples understood what Jesus was saying, but later, after He rose from the dead, they recalled what He had said on this day. They believed the Scriptures and the words Jesus had spoken.
The disciples and the Jewish authorities had to make the same decision that we all have to make about Jesus. The Scriptures leave us no choice. Either He is the Son of God and Savior, or He is a fraud. The disciples believed, while the Jewish authorities, who hated Jesus, rejected Him.
Too often, we focus only on the love of Jesus, while excluding His holiness, and His hatred of sin. The story today gives us a clear picture of how Jesus sees sin, particularly when it's done in His Father's house. Yes, we should always emphasize the love of Jesus for His people, but also His holiness.