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 - The Final Plague). During this great festival, they were required to offer sacrifices in the Temple courtyards. Since many people traveled a long way on 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—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 the money changers had set up 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. They challenged him, “Who gave you the authority to do this? 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 Jesus was crucified. Three days later, when he arose from the grave, they finally understood! Meanwhile, Jesus performed many miracles at the Passover Feast. When the people saw them, they began to discern that this man could possibly be their Messiah. They began to follow him. But Jesus did not trust that their faith was real, because he knew what was inside the heart of every man.
Is there anything about the way you worship God that would upset Jesus? Perhaps you are like so many of the Israelites who were just trying to fulfill a requirement; or maybe you are like the religious leaders who used worship as a way to gain some kind of personal profit; or maybe you are too distracted by all the clutter and clatter to focus on God. Consider what you need to strip away from inside your own heart to make God the sole purpose and priority of your worship.