Jesus Clears the Temple
-So in reading this passage of scripture we get a pretty straight forward picture of Jesus taking action. I’ve read and heard it say that this scene seems to show Jesus being cruel or “throwing a tantrum”. I will admit, other than the selling and money changing, I don’t get why Jesus “HULKED” out. I can understand rebuking and setting these folks right, but that’s not what Jesus does.
-In my studying I found some notes that pointed out exactly why Jesus did what He did. To be honest, it makes complete sense now. I hope these notes will share some insight for you, in the same way studying it did for me.
Cleansing the Temple Complex: John 2:13-17
-From just reading this passage it seems like Jesus just flips out on these folks. We can assume when Jesus says “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a market place!” that what these people were doing was wrong. But maybe you’re like me, and are wondering exactly why they were wrong?
-Well, upon reading the commentary I’m using, I was painted a broader picture. Even in my Study Bible the footnotes allude to the same conclusion. So let me set the scene for you.
-The temple was built very specifically. There was an inner court for only the Jewish men to worship, the next court was for only the Jewish women, and finally the outer court for everybody else (or for non-Jewish people). Now these “merchants” were posted on the outer court.
-The whole point of these folks selling animals and trading coins was to make things “convenient” for the people to worship, and maybe make a quick buck too.
-The people were, according to the scriptures, required to bring the first and finest of their flocks for sacrifice. But some folk had so very far to go and it would just be easier to buy a sacrificial animal once they got to the temple. Who knows, maybe they could get a deal on the critter.
-With the money, the traders were there to exchange the money of the folk coming to worship, because money with images of people or animals wasn’t allowed in the temple offering basket. It would just be easier to trade in the money at the door right? Kinda like an arcade token machine.
-The BIG problem here is that the people coming to worship didn’t have to prepare… anything. The whole reason God wanted them to bring the best (for one, it’s God, and He only gets the best period) is that they would literally have to pick out there very best. Then make preparations for the journey and keeping the animal spotless. It’s the same idea with the money. They know they can’t just show up with Roman money or whatever they had. They would have to put the work in to get the right coins.
-So here’s the bigger picture. When it comes to us worshiping we have to prepare. The United States just doesn’t take in whatever random volunteer for the army and say, “hey this 18 year old kid looks pretty fit. Give him a helmet and some camo. Guns? Naw, when he gets to the war zone he’ll figure it out.” No, as a matter of fact they weed out the strongest and smartest and figure out where each soldier is best fitted to be. My brother said this is what boot camp is all about. In his words, “boot camp is to let you know you are no longer a civilian.” In the same way Worship, and preparing for it, is God’s way of telling us we are no longer civilians anymore.
-The next thing is that they are making a commotion in the court. This outer court is for prayer and worship. It would be like the best buy checkout registers set up on the stage with your worship team or Pastor. I mean can you imagine the biggest electronic sale (think iphone 5’s on sale for like $20, and the worship team trying to sing “Our God is greater” over the noise) it just doesn’t work. How can anybody take worship serious in that situation? So not only are the people not prepared, but now there minds are everywhere else instead of focusing on God.
-let’s talk about these animals for a minute. The law says that a sacrifice must be given to make up for our sins. So you bring the first and best of your animals as a sacrifice. Here’s the thing, God doesn’t care for the sacrifice. David wrote, “You do not delight in sacrifice” (Ps 51:16) God only cares about your heart. So when you’re giving up the very best you have for God, who knows, maybe even all you have. God accepts that with great joy. But if you are just going through the motions, if you’re giving Him left overs, do you really expect God to accept that?
-lastly, when it comes to the outer court, this is the place where gentles worship. In other words, this is where you and I would go to worship. Not only is it awesome that Jesus took physical action for the things these people were doing (this is where vs. 17 kicks in) but that Jesus physically did something for us. Even before He goes to the cross He is preparing a place for us. A place we can meet with Him and enjoy Him. It’s a place where we can carry out a conversation with Him, sing with Him, and learn more about Him. Jesus is constantly clearing a way for us.
Give us a Sign: John 2:18-25
-As John writes, it becomes clear to us and to them, that Jesus is speaking about His body being raised in three days. But the sad summation on this passage is the people. John writes that the leaders ask for a sign. Really? By this time many have seen and heard about Jesus’ signs and miracles. But you still need a specific sign? Even in verses 23-25 it says that many trusted in His name when they saw signs, but Jesus would not entrust Himself to them. What does this mean?
-Well, the people believed for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t that it proved Jesus was the Messiah, but they were getting something out of the miracles and signs. There are a lot of people that get really excited for God. They get break troughs, a prayer answered, or some needed relief. But then those dark clouds come around, and honestly as a believer, they come back with a vengeance. Then these folks jump ship right away, and claim the God’s not there, He must not love them, why am I suffering, and whatever else. The fact is it is really easy to believe in “Religion” when you think it’s going to bless you with stuff. Jesus never promises you’re gonna have it easy. He says it’s gonna be tough. He says count the cost of following me. Jesus was sign enough… He spoke with authority, He knew things about God even the leading priests didn’t, He could explain hard things through stories, and yet the people needed a sign.
-in the end, I get excited about Jesus cleansing the temple. If He can do that for the believers in Jerusalem, then He can cleanse my heart with the same passion and authority.