1/13: Cleansing the Temple

The Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  41:08
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Scripture Reading

John 2:13–25 HCSB
13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. 15 After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me. 18 So the Jews replied to Him, “What sign of authority will You show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered, “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.” 20 Therefore the Jews said, “This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking about the sanctuary of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this. And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made. 23 While He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many trusted in His name when they saw the signs He was doing. 24 Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man.


All four Gospels contain an account of Jesus cleansing the Temple.
Matthew 21:12–17 HCSB
12 Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!” 14 The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple complex, and He healed them. 15 When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children shouting in the temple complex, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus told them. “Have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of children and nursing infants?” 17 Then He left them, went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.
Mark 11:15–17 HCSB
15 They came to Jerusalem, and He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves, 16 and would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple complex. 17 Then He began to teach them: “Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!”
Luke 19:45–46 HCSB
45 He went into the temple complex and began to throw out those who were selling, 46 and He said, “It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!”
John’s is the most detailed and descriptive, although the chronological ordering is a bit different. One thing though that is reinforced in our minds moving from John 1 to John 2 is that Jesus really is the promised one from the Old Testament. John 2 expresses this vividly for us. With the exchange of water into wine, we see how the ceremonial cleansing by water, tied to the old order, is replaced with a new one. The wine being the life giving shedding of his blood. But also what we read shows us how the old sacrificial system will be replaced as well. The temple could be, and would be destroyed. But not the temple that Jesus would rebuild. Not the temple of his body!
But we also read of what true worship looks like. One commentary summarized it as such,
“Worship is not commercial activity; it is connecting with the Father in spirit and in truth through Jesus Christ the Lamb.”


The Passover was a very important time in the life of a Jew. This was when all of the Jews would come together for the highest festival and worship. This is the most important one. It is a reminder of how they were set free and delivered from bondage in Israel. It was a time during the Feast of Unleavened Bread because they left with such haste from Egypt. It is a seven day festival that culminated in this one event. The entire festival was leading up to this one point!
Similar to how Advent has as its high point Christmas, Lent has Easter, and the average calendar has my birthday on Oct 13. The Passover was the pinnacle of this festival.
The Passover sacrifice was not a little thing. In fact, when this is first conducted in Exodus 12 it was incredibly important. Lives were at stake if it was not observed properly. It meant that every family must gather a one year old male sheep or goat and...
“at night they were to eat it broiled whole, with bitter herbs and unleavened bread; and as they ate they were to be dressed for the road with girded loins, sandals on the feet, and staffs in hand as if in haste, for it is a “Passover offering [pesaḥ] to the LORD.” -​The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary Unleavened Bread and Passover, Feasts Of
This was important, because if they did not do this, their firstborn child would die because of their disobedience and rebellion to God. God made a way, and they chose to reject it. But this annual celebration, which we read hear in John’s Gospel, was not meant for the Jewish people to save their sons. No, this celebration was obedience to God who had commanded that this occur annually as a memorial (Ex 12:14)
So, this was important in the life of a Jew. And since Jerusalem had the temple, the place where they believed God dwelled, they all would flock to Jerusalem. It was full of people, one scholar notes that the borders for the city of Jerusalem were extended to accommodate everyone. And it was required at this time for the Jewish people to pay the temple tax. But Jewish sojourners could not pay with their foreign currency, marked with idolatrous imagery, and so they had to exchange it into the Tyrian coinage.
But not just Jews, the Romans would also have to send legions of soldiers to ensure that peace was maintained in their empire. So for crowd control, maybe even for safety, there were many soldiers there.
One more note, Gentiles would be everywhere as well. Think of them as the tourists. They wanted to see this festival and maybe even to make a bit of money. You have a lot of people here.
World Cup (Super Bowl)- You had fans flocking to see their idol…errr team, the Jews. The police force had to be ramped up to keep people safe, Romans. And then you have a bunch of tourists just coming to see the festivities, the Gentile world.
You have a lot of people here gathered together and so you know what would be the smart thing to do? Uber people around, open up an AirBnB, maybe even offer “local” tours.
You want to make some money. And that is what we see here. In the temple complex, which was meant to be the open area where everyone was allowed to come enter, they are restricted from being able to go in and pray. To worship God.
​In the Jerusalem temple, the complex included the sanctuary (the holy place and the holy of holies), at least 4 courtyards (for priests, Jews, women, and Gentiles), numerous gates, and several covered walkways. -The Holman Christian Standard Bible
So in the outer court, the sounds of contrition and wailing and prayers are now replaced.

Instead of solemn dignity and the murmur of prayer, there is the bellowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep. Instead of brokenness and contrition, holy adoration and prolonged petition, there is noisy commerce.

Scattered across the scene, what do you see and hear and smell. Animals, loud conversations and negotiations, money is being exchanged because you have people from all over the world coming to one city and so they need to be able to buy things. And the people of God needed to present their offering and to pay the temple tax.
The place of God, has become a marketplace and this displeases Jesus. More than just displeases him, it grieves and angers him. Jesus hulks up. He has what we generally always lack when we are angry, sinlessness. He is angry, but without sin.
Application on anger
He overturns the tables and, this reveals a bit about the power and authority of Jesus. One man starts to clear the entire temple complex.
We do not necessarily need to respond the same way, but we should be upset with some of the “religious” things we see in churches, on the radio, and on the television.
vs 15 “After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables.”
Hyperbolic, yes. In no way is it just Jesus standing there by himself. But we see the anger of Jesus. He is mad and this earthly, temporary wrath he his pouring fulfills prophecy (Psalm 69:9).
Now this situation needed to be handled carefully, the Jews did not want to be thought of causing a riot and also the religious leaders understand that Jesus has just disrupted their enterprise and sacrificial system.
You can imagine that if you are cashing in and someone stops you, you are going to push back a little. The Jews come against him and just ask, “With what authority do you do this?”We get another one of those moments where we scratch our heads thinking Jesus you must not have heard the question.
He responds by saying, “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.”
Now the religious leaders do not get understand at all the meaning behind Jesus’ words. They are reflecting on how it has taken, at that point in time, nearly 46 years of temple construction. It won’t be complete for a couple more decades later on 63 AD, unfortunately to be destroyed in 70 AD (Started in ~20 BC). But they think he is referring to the temple building. And so they ask for a sign and they misunderstand him.
And that would have been a sign would not it have been? Let’s say that the religious leaders did challenge Jesus and destroy the temple and he rebuilt it all in three days, that would have been an enormous sign to them. But there was no way they would have done that.
But do you know what he is really saying? He foretells his death and resurrection as the basis for his authority. He is saying He is God. That is the authority he carries. He has authority over life and over death. He has authority over all things.
Why can Jesus drive out the money changers, because it is his house! He makes the rules!
Turning the outer courts into a market effectively prevented worship for non-Jewish people. Jesus’ quotation of Isa 56:7 in the Synoptics underscores His desire for the temple to be a “house of prayer for all peoples.” Jesus is angered by the commercialization of temple worship, which created an obstacle to true worship.
Can we say that we are like this? That we have a righteous anger when we see injustice?
Do we have a righteous anger when we see people are prevented from being able to worship God?
Do we have a zeal for God to receive the glory he is due?


And more personally, do you need to clean house?
Complacent and believing that we are doing religious duties, much like the religious leaders, but really we are preventing ourselves from worship.
We are not rightly honoring God. There are many churches today that if they were visited by Jesus, they think they will be met with fanfare and wonder. But have we examined ourselves? God is here, and we have His Word, let us examine ourselves and repent.
Have we come to a passage like this and said I will never accept an angry God? A God who requires holiness? Do you like the Jesus of love, but forget that He is God and that means that He is just!
As opposed to humbling yourself to God, are you trying to make due by just being a “good person”. Do you think that will be enough, when the truth is Christ came to fulfill the law and now requires true repentance and obedience and faith to and in Him.
John 2:23–25 HCSB
23 While He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many trusted in His name when they saw the signs He was doing. 24 Jesus, however, would not entrust Himself to them, since He knew them all 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man.
We read of Jesus doing signs, right after refusing to give a sign of authority to the Jews who asked him for one. The ones who were asking for a sign were to truly looking for validation, they hated Jesus.
Matthew 12:38–40 HCSB
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 39 But He answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
And Jesus points them to his resurrection, a future sign to be given, but not for them. And then it is interesting though that he does signs. And it says that many believe in His name. There we read of a superficial believing. We have an unbelieving request for signs in order to have belief and then we read of a superficial belief based on signs. And Jesus is not looking for that. Not at all. Because not all belief is true belief.
Jesus has authority, people respond and entrust themselves. 2:24 entrust The Greek text uses the word pisteuō here. John uses a wordplay here, describing how “many believed” (pisteuō in Greek) in Jesus in v. 23, but Jesus does not trust or believe (pisteuō) them in return.
“did not need anyone to testify about man” Jesus is divinely appointed, so the glory of other people is not His concern—He receives His glory from God the Father. This verse provides the transition to Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus and prepares the reader for Jesus’ divine insight into Nicodemus’ spiritual needs.- ​Faithlife Study Bible
Parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Not all belief is true belief.
True salvation is evidenced in a transformed life that is pursuing righteousness. A life that seeks to come to God in true worship. We still go to the temple, but the temple is no longer a building, it is Jesus. We go to him in true worship. Not seeking to be cleared out.
Jesus is the Passover lamb. Another event happens on a different Passover festival time some years later. Jesus on the cross fulfills this prophetic word that he gave. They destroyed that temple on the cross and He rose it again three days later. They were given the sign of Jonah.
He is the place where we worship. With our lives, with our actions, with our thoughts.
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