Jesus Cleans Out the Temple
AUGUST 7 - Nº 219 John 2:13-23
Every year Jewish families were expected to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover (see #44 - February 13). During this great festival, they were required to offer sacrifices in the Temple courtyard. Since many people traveled a long way over difficult terrain, they were not able to bring their own cattle, sheep, or doves for these sacrifices. Conveniently, the pilgrims were able to purchase any animals or items they needed from vendors who set up tables and booths in or near the Temple. These vendors were all sanctioned by the Temple priests. Unfortunately, the prices in these makeshift shops were very high, and the items could only be purchased with special Temple currency. Everyone’s money had to be changed before they could make a single transaction. And, you guessed it, the interest rate on the exchange was very high! The High Priest and his family had become extremely wealthy at the expense of the people who came to Jerusalem to worship God! This unethical system became known historically as The Bazaar of the Sons of Annas—who was the High Priest at the time. Not long after the wedding at Cana, Jesus and his new followers traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. When they arrived, they walked right into this corrupt, chaotic scene. Jesus was so upset when he saw what was happening that he made a whip out of cords. With it, he drove all the sheep and cattle out of the Temple courtyard. Then he pushed over the tables of the money changers, scattering their coins everywhere. He shouted at the people who sold doves, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a marketplace!” Some of the leaders tried to stop him. “Who gave you the authority to do this?”, they challenged him. “What miraculous sign can you show to prove that you have the right to kick these people out?” Jesus replied, “Destroy this Temple, and I will build it again in three days.” The Jewish leaders were irate! “It took 46 years to build this Temple, and you think you can rebuild it in three days?” they snarled. They did not realize that he was talking about his body—the real Temple—the place where God actually lived! No one, not even his own disciples, comprehended this statement until after he was crucified. (Three days later, when Jesus arose from the grave, they finally understood!) Meanwhile, Jesus performed many miracles at the Passover Feast. When the people saw them, they wondered if he could possibly be the Messiah anticipated in the Old Testament. They began to follow him. But since Jesus knew their hearts, he realized their faith was not real. It was based on his miracles rather than his message.
Is there anything about the way you worship God that would upset Jesus? Remember, he knows everything that is in your heart. -Are you like many of the Israelites who were just trying to fulfill religious requirements? -Or maybe you are more like the religious leaders who used worship as a means of personal profit. -Perhaps you are too distracted by all the clutter and clatter around you to focus on God. Consider what needs to be stripped away from your heart to make God the sole purpose and priority of your worship.