Jesus Clears the Temple

John 2:13-22

Since people would have travelled to Jerusalem from all over, they would not have been able to bring animals for sacrifices with them and still be able to meet the ceremonial requirements for perfection.  Having a marketplace right within the Temple (Court of the Gentiles) would have been quite convenient.  At the same time, it would have been quite convenient for the priests who received a percentage from the sales.  In addition, Temple taxes were required to be paid by the Jews in the coin of Tyre.  Money changers were on hand to exchange other coins for the ones required for Temple taxes, sometimes at high fees:  Clearly, Passover was a time for commerce in the middle of the National House of Worship.

Jesus was filled with righteous indignation and drove the traders out, overturning their tables and ordering all of the goods to be removed.  Note that He did not harm the animals or confiscate the money; He was not doing this to cause harm, but rather to stop the desecration of the Temple.  His whip was made of rope, not leather.  It would have gotten a man’s attention, but it would not have caused anyone serious harm.  The issue that Jesus reacted to here was not that running a market and engaging in commerce was a bad or sinful thing in and of itself, but that the Temple was not the place for such things.  Remember, the Temple in Jerusalem during the Old Covenant was the dwelling place of God (in the Holy of holies).  The dwelling place of God, the place of His worship, was not to be taken callously and turned into a marketplace for personal enrichment; it was reserved for reverence.

In verse 17, John is quoting from Psalm 69:9.  The Psalmist is consumed with love for God’s house, and so is Jesus.  Jesus’ zeal for God’s house as a house of prayer has interesting possibilities for us to consider.  First, He certainly had a zeal for the Temple as a place of prayer, but a careful look at the Gospels will reveal that He is never portrayed as praying there.  He is mentioned to be praying in the desert, mountains and Sea, but not particularly at the Temple.  Of course, creative students will recall that the Temple in the OT is symbolic of a NT reality as mentioned several times in Hebrews.  In the NT, many will say that the Temple represents the church, not a building, but the Body of Christ wherein He dwells through the Holy Spirit.  It may be said that this approach is a bit of a stretch to apply to this passage, but it is interesting to ponder.  What is clear however, is that His consummation took place at the time of His crucifixion, which was done for the forgiveness of sins that His people could be redeemed… and so that all peoples could be redeemed into the Body of Christ.

Naturally, the authorities demanded a sign of His authority.  What Jesus gave in reply seemed ridiculous to those who can only think of the physical, but after the resurrection, His disciples understood that the Temple He referred to was that of His own Body.

Hmm… so what do you think?

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to Jesus Clears the Temple

  1. Tom says:

    I never thought about the fact of the whip being made of rope and really could not hurt anyone. I also agree with you in that Jesus was talking about the current physical temple being the house of prayer. Nothing appears to really say anything different.

  2. BelleUnruh says:

    I don’t think the temple represents the church, although I may be wrong. I think it represents salvation. First there was a sacrifice (Jesus), there was incense, (Prayer) then the curtain, (separation from God), then the ark with the 10 commandments and mercy seat on top of the ark. When Jesus died, the curtain was torn in two, showing we were no longer separated from God. The 10 Commandments were broken by us, but God’s mercy covers us by the blood of Jesus. That is what I believe so far in my journey with God.

  3. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will rebuild it.”

    20The Jewish leaders said, “This sanctuary has been under construction for 46 years, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” 21 But the sanctuary he was speaking about was his own body. 22 After he had been raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this. So they believed the Scripture and the statement that Jesus had made.(lSV)

    From this – The Sanctuary or Temple is Jesus’ own Body.

    What we need to remember is that it was not God’s idea to build a Temple but David’s. It was the Tabernacle which God gave the design for Moses to build.

    Yet Matthew 12:6 “I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.” Jesus is greater than the temple because he is not built with human hands.

  4. Pingback: Jesus Clears the Temple|The Life Project |  | franciscansonthemountains

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