Jesus Cleanses The Temple The First Time
JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE THE FIRST TIME
As you read through the New Testament there are only a few instances where Jesus gets upset and what takes place in this passage is one of those instances. If you really want to upset Jesus do what these people were doing.
- Let’s go through the passage and see what they were doing; and what you will find is they, like many today, were slow learners.
Now, you may have recognized this account as “Jesus cleansing the temple.”
- But, this is not the only time that Jesus “cleansed the temple.”
- He cleansed the temple one other time and you can read about that in Matthew 21:12f; in Mark 11:15-17; and in Luke 19:45f.
- But when Jesus cleanses the temple here in John 2, it is the beginning of His ministry; this is His first great, public, act of “being about His Father’s business”; when He cleanses the temple later it is His last, great public act before going to the cross.
Now, with that said we must keep in mind that Jesus would be unknown to these people.
- Earlier in this chapter He performed His first miracle in Cana of Galilee when He turned the water to wine and word of that may have come to some of these people; but most of these people in Jerusalem would not know Jesus or what He is about.
- When He cleanses the temple later on, the Jewish leaders would know who He is but not at this first cleansing.
- So, what you have here is His first public statement of who He really is.
So, let’s look now starting in vs. 13. John says: And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”
- The Passover of the Jews” and the “Feast of the Unleavened Bread” was an annual feast mandated by God to commemorate the night in Exodus 12 when the death angel came on the first born in Egypt and yet, passed over the houses of the Israelites who had sprinkled the blood of the “Passover Lamb” on the doorposts of their homes.
- God mandated that the Israelites keep the Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread every year after that.
- So Jesus would have kept the Passover every year because He was always obedient to the will of God.
And Jesus would not be the only one who came to Jerusalem! This week was the most significant week of the spiritual year for the Jews.
- Thousands upon thousands of Jews came to Jerusalem for the week of the Passover.
- In fact, most scholars believe that Jerusalem would swell to well over a million people during this week…and the focal point for all of these people was the Temple and the Temple courtyard;
- …because the Temple was the one place on earth where you should be able to approach the presence of God and worship God.
- The “Holy of Holies” was there; it was a sacred place; it was the place where you could offer your worship sacrifices and your sin sacrifices to God; and it should have been a place where you could go and find God’s people doing what God’s people do.
But, look at vs. 14 at what Jesus found when He entered the Temple.
14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated.
- This practice of selling oxen and sheep and doves, and changing money was a matter of convenience for those who had to travel to come to Jerusalem.
- Those who had to come from a distance could hardly bring their own animals for sacrifice with them; so they would purchase them when they came to the temple.
And it was permitted to make money offerings in the temple but only certain coins were approved (people coming from a distance may bring coins of a different currency all together; some coins may have had an image on them that was not acceptable) so the “moneychangers” would take the unapproved of coins and exchange them for coins that were approved.
But notice that Jesus found them “in the temple.”
- Evidently, at some point in time this selling of animals and changing of money took place outside of the temple courtyard but later it was moved inside of the courtyard.
- And in vs. 16, that seems to be the primary objection that Jesus has.
Now there may have been some other things going on that Jesus would not approve of.
- If we take into account what Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us, some of these people selling the animals may not have been very honest.
- For instance, they may have charged more for an animal than they should have; or if you brought and animal to be sacrificed they would find something wrong with it and force you to buy another animal, then they would take your animal and sell it to someone else.
And as far as the “moneychangers” were concerned, they would undervalue your “unapproved of coin” and charge you 3 of your coins for one of theirs.
- Evidently there were some shady dealings going on and that is why Jesus says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account of Him cleansing the temple that these people selling the animals and changing the money were making His Father’s house a “Robbers Den.”
But Jesus doesn’t mention those things here in John 2. Jesus does not object to any dishonesty taking place.
- Starting in vs. 15 it simply says: He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.”
The New International Version says: How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
- Jesus does not seem to be upset by any dishonesty that might be going on.
- Instead He is upset about what will cause people to be dishonest.
- And He is upset about the same thing that is happening in our culture and society.
- These people, like many today, had become complacent about God; they no longer respected God; they no longer reverenced God as they should.
Isn’t that true today? How many times in a week do you hear someone show disrespect to God by taking His name in vain?
- Think of other ills in our society: homosexuality and transgender issues; did those actions not start because of a lack of reverence for God (see Romans 1:21).
- Lawlessness; violence; corruption; perversions; broken marriages and families; all of these things are a result of no respect for or reverence for God.
And these people had no respect or consideration for those who sincerely came to worship God.
- The only court in which all this noisy, boisterous traffic took place was the only court to which the Gentiles might go when they wished to pray or meditate and they couldn’t do that.
- Even those Jews who came to worship should have been able to pray and worship in peace but instead they found themselves in the middle of a noisy bazaar or marketplace (it would be like trying to worship God at Walmart on a Saturday).
These people selling the animals; and these moneychangers did not treat God with the respect that He deserves; and they didn’t show any respect or consideration for those who sincerely came to worship; and Jesus drives them out.
- I have to wonder why the Jewish leaders; the temple priests didn’t do this?
- Apparently they had become complacent and if your leaders have no reverence for God why would the people be any different?
Now evidently, what Jesus does here doesn’t have much effect on the Jewish leaders or those selling and changing money because in 2 years He will do this all again.
- But notice the effect it has on His disciples; His followers; look at vs. 17:
In vs. 16, Jesus says, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.” (The fact that Jesus refers to the temple as “His Father’s house”; that in itself speaks of a special relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus is referring to Himself as God’s Son, or the Son of God.)
And then in vs. 17 it says, His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Thy house will consume me.”
- That is a quote from Psalm 69:9.
- John doesn’t quote the Old Testament as frequently as some of the other New Testament writers do; but by John recording this; and by the disciples remembering and applying Psalm 69:9 to what Jesus does here, they are telling us that fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures was seen in what Jesus did.
- And that told His disciples; and it should tell us today; that Jesus truly is the Messiah.
Now, let’s read verses 18-22. Keep in mind up to this time the Jews did not know who Jesus was and so they are somewhat amused by what He has just done. So they ask: vs. 18:
18 The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?”
- Jesus disciples were not the only ones who understood Jesus’s actions. So did the Jews. The Jews understood that what Jesus did here indicated that He was more than just someone who was faithful to God.
- So they want Him to “authenticate” His claim and His actions with a sign; with a miracle.
19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.
- The Jews wanted a sign…they got it 3 years later. Did they believe? Some did. Others still refused.
- Do you/I?
- Because you see, verse 22 tells us that His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture; and the word which Jesus had spoken.”
- What this does is it divides us into two groups today: you are either a disciple who believes the scriptures and the word of Jesus; or you are not a disciple.
And as you think about that remember again the reason why John wrote this. John 20:30-31:
Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023