12 After this, he went down to Capernaum with his mother, brothers, and disciples and they stayed there for a few days. 13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and money changers sitting at tables. 15 He made a whip of cords and drove everyone out of the temple courts, along with the sheep and oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those selling doves he said, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a place of business!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 So the Jews responded, “What sign are you going to show us to prove you can do these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 The Jews said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple! And you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When Jesus was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this. Then they believed the Scripture and what Jesus had said. 23 While he was in Jerusalem for the Passover Festival, many believed in his name as they observed the miraculous signs he was doing. 24 But Jesus, on his part, was not entrusting himself to them, because he knew them all. 25 He did not need anyone to testify about man, because he himself knew what was in man.
Passover was an important time for the Jewish people. All Jewish males 12 years and older were supposed to come to Jerusalem for the celebration. Often the rest of the family would come with them. This meant plenty of opportunities for people in Jerusalem to make some money. Those coming from out of town would need to purchase a year-old lamb for the Passover feast. They would need animals to sacrifice on the altar. Foreign visitors would need to change money so they could pay the temple tax in Jewish currency. What better place to set up shop to provide these important services than the temple courts?
On the surface this might have sounded like a good idea. But let’s consider the consequences. Just imagine what it would be like to come to church on Sunday morning and there are tables set up everywhere with people trying to sell something. Naturally there would be lots of noise and people try to get your attention to come to their table. How well would you be able to concentrate on worshipping your Lord in that kind of environment? The temple in Jerusalem was the special place of worship for the Jewish people. The temple was constructed according to God’s demands given at Mt. Sinai during the time of Moses. God also laid out special instruction for those leading worship at the temple and for those who came there to worship. But now, these merchants had turned God’s house into a marketplace. The focus was now on making money and not on worshipping God. Jesus needed to take corrective action. As the Son of God he quickly took total control of the situation. He drove all the sellers out of the temple. No one was able to withstand his righteous wrath. All this happened to fulfill the words of Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
The leaders of the Jews were outraged. They demanded to know what authority Jesus had to cause such an uproar. Jesus responded that he would “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” John provides the added insight that Jesus was pointing ahead to his death and resurrection. He would fulfill everything the Holy Scriptures promised about the Messiah. In doing so, Jesus proved he is the Son of God and therefore he had the authority to restore proper order in the house of the Lord.
Clearly the leaders of the Jesus didn’t understand what Jesus was saying at the time. Sometimes we also don’t fully understand everything our Lord is saying to us in his Word. In those times, may we also follow the disciple’s example by remembering his Word and searching the Scriptures for understanding. Remember the Bible is God’s message to us. He wants us to understand his Word. Let us continue to search his message daily and pray that he will give us understanding of what he is teaching us.
1 – Why was it necessary for Jesus to drive out those who were transacting business in the temple courts?
The temple in the Jerusalem was a place to go and worship the Lord. Those who were selling animals and exchanging currency had turned this place of worship into a marketplace. Worshipping God had been replaced by pursuing worldly wealth. It was necessary for Jesus to intervene to restore the proper use of God’s house.
2 – What does Jesus teach us about proper respect for the house of the Lord?
Church is meant to be a place to worship the Lord and to be fed by his Word and the Sacraments. Certainly it is permissible to use the church building for other activities, but we should not allow any activities in the church that would distract from our main focus, which is continuing to grow in the good news of Jesus Christ.
3 – What sign did Jesus give to prove he had the authority to clear all the merchants out of the temple?
Jesus promised to destroy this temple (referring to his body) and raise it again in three days. Jesus was pointing ahead to his death and resurrection. In this way Jesus would again prove that he is the Son of God. As true God he has full authority over all things. Therefore he had every right to drive out those who were using God’s temple for sinful purposes.
4 – A pastor once said, “Bible study often bears fruit long after the Bible is closed.” What did he mean by this? (Consider verse 22)
Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand Jesus’ promise to “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” at the time he first spoke the words. But after Jesus rose from the dead they understood that he was foretelling his resurrection. This served to strengthen their trust in God’s promises in the Holy Scriptures. God can also use the Word we studied to bring to strengthen and comfort us days, months or even years later. God promises that when his Word goes out from his mouth it will always achieve the purpose God intended. (See Isaiah 55:11) God can and will achieve that purpose in the time he chooses.
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.