CLEANSING THE TEMPLE: JOHN 2:13-22 4/15/2012
I. AN ANGRY JESUS- JOHN 2:13-17
II. THE ANGRY JEWS- JOHN 2:18-22
To teach that Jesus is still active in cleansing His house of that which defiles it.
Our lesson today picks up from where we left off in our lesson of March 18, where we learned
about the Miracle at Cana. After this Jesus’disciples began to see more of who He was and they
began to believe in Him. Following the wedding at Cana, Jesus and His disciples went to the city
of Capernaum, however He did not stay very long there because the Passover was approaching
and Jesus, like all other observant and faithful Jews would have to go to Jerusalem to observe
Passover was a religious festival to commemorate God’s deliverance of the Jews from bondage,
the observance of this feast was also closely connected to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Passover was observed on the fourteenth day of Nisan, then in the seven days following the Feast
of Unleavened Bread would be observed.
Following the wedding at Cana, Jesus would now take His public Ministry to another level since
large crowds would be gathered at Jerusalem. Not only does Jesus take on the sins of the world,
but He also exposes our sinfulness, and purges and purifies us from its polluting effects. Today
this work would begin in the Temple.
I. AN ANGRY JESUS- JOHN 2:13-17
And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to observe Passover. By going up, one would imagine that Jesus
travelled north from Capernaum but Jerusalem was actually located to the south, however since
it was situated on an elevated location, when speaking of the Temple one would consider that
they were going “up” regardless of where they were setting out from.
The law required that all Jewish males were to travel to Jerusalem to observe three annual Jewish
Feasts, Passover, The Feast of Weeks (Harvest) and The Feast of Tabernacles. However on His
arrival Jesus would not find things as they should be.
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of
The Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish life and it was considered Holy and Sacred.
Over the years the Leadership of the Temple had become more and more corrupt, many of them
had formed alliances with the unscrupulous merchants who operated in the area. When Jesus
arrived at the Temple He found a thriving marketplace on that which was considered Holy
These businesses were not actually in the Temple, but they were in the outer courts of the
Temple in an area known as the Court of the Gentiles. This was a common area where Gentiles
were allowed access, the inner courts of the Temple were reserved only for the Jews. While
Gentiles did have access to the outer courts, these areas were not to be used for trading purposes.
Since many had to travel a distance to make it to Jerusalem for Passover, it was not always
convenient for them to do so with the livestock that would be required for them to take to the
Temple for sacrifice. Consequently animals were made available for them to purchase, originally
this was done in the general vicinity of the Temple but over time these businesses had spilled out
and spread into the Temple Courts.
Along with those who sold animals were traders who made their living by providing exchange
for the coins that was used to pay the Temple Taxes. Again, corruption had begun to set in
because the Priests in the Temple would only accept one type of currency for the payment of
these Taxes. Needless to say that those who operated these “foreign exchange booths” were often
greedy and unscrupulous and many of them were “buying privileges” from the corrupt Priests
who allowed them to conduct their business within the Temple Courts.
To say that the Temple had become defiled by these practices would be an understatement to say
the least, and of course the greater sin is the fact that the Temple Priests and Officials were not
only allowing such trade but were actually profiting from it.
And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and
the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
On witnessing such a scene Jesus became “righteously indignant” and picking up pieces of rope
and cords to make a whip- Jesus began to do some “holy house cleaning” by making a “scourge
of small cords”. He probably used the whip to drive the animals out, then He completely upset
their activities by upturning all the money changer’s tables so that their coins would fall to the
ground, one vendor’s coins being mixed up with another, chaos would ensue as they rallied
around to pick up their coins and fought to make sure that their ill gotten gains would not be
picked up by another.
It is ok to be angry at sin, and with sin, but we are not to sin in the process, and there is no
indication here that Jesus did anything sinful in His actions. Eph 4:26 “Be ye angry, and sin not:
let not the sun go down upon your wrath”.
As Christians we should never be comfortable with sin, neither with our own sin, or with the
actions of sinful people around us, there should be a sense of righteous indignation when we see
the effects of sin running rampant in our communities, in our homes or even in our churches. We
can speak the truth in love, and there are will be times when we must firmly and lovingly take
actions to confront those individuals about such sins, but we are not to do so in such a way that
we embarrass the cross of Christ or allow our own anger and outrage to take such a grip on us
that we end up committing sin in the process.
Also there is the very real fact that whenever we point to our point out the sin in another
individual…….we are also inviting ourselves to the same scrutiny and judgment.
And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house
an house of merchandise.
It has been said that “when the purpose of a thing is not understood- abuse will be inevitable”.
The purpose of the Temple was to celebrate God’s presence, it was symbolic of God’s presence
among them, it was a place where He was to be remembered, celebrated, worshipped, revered
The Church is special, because it symbolizes the presence of God. It is “God’s House” and Jesus
exercising His right as the Son said “make not my Father’s house” an house of merchandize. The
Temple had been abused!
Simply stated, Church is church and the Mall is the Mall, and we need to be very circumspect
concerning what we allow in the House of God and how we respect and revere the House of
God. In modern day Christendom, of course we are not blind to the fact that while the Gospel
and Salvation is free- in the natural there are certain “operating costs” such as the maintenance of
buildings and the purchase of supplies, however much wisdom and discernment is required in
terms of how we conduct ourselves concerning the acquisition of the necessary resources.
In my view the Gospel is not for sale, and Church expenses should be taken care of from
the Tithes and Offerings of those who belong to the Church.
Everything has its purpose and its proper place, in Church the focus must be on worship, and that
should be the primary purpose of the worship activities. I am against those who take up valuable
preaching, teaching and praying time to promote their various “books, and tapes, and products”
even if the resources are good, that is neither the time nor the place to promote them.
There is an appropriate place for announcements and there is nothing wrong with a Church
Bookstore or table where things can be purchased at an appropriate time. However, the primary
place for Church and especially the Sanctuary is for Worship. In our sin saturated and money
focused world, surely we can turn it all off for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning and
devote our energies purely for the Worship of God.
This is what Jesus was saying to the sellers and those authorities who condoned the business
activities in the Temple, do not make my Father’s house a place of Commerce!
17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
At this point the disciples remembered Ps. 69:9 “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up;
and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me”.
This is a Messianic quote, speaking of the Messiah, it refers to the fact that the Messiah would
pay a high price for His commitment to God’s temple. This “zeal” for God would ultimately lead
Him to His death. As Jesus addressed the merchants in the Temple, His message was not only for
them…but it was directed especially to those who allowed those activities to take place, namely
the Temple Priests and Officials, who would be the same ones who would eventually plan for
His arrest and condemn Him to death. On remembering these things the disciples would believe
that He is the Messiah.
Reminding us that there is a high price to be paid for following Jesus. You are not your own, you
were brought with a price, and in the same way that He was persecuted you can be sure that you
will suffer persecution also.
When you speak out against the sinful activities of our own modern temples, when you speak out
about the sinful practices of the world….you can rest assured that persecution will follow.
Especially if your life, and your lips are fully committed to the Lord.
II. THE ANGRY JEWS- JOHN 2:18-22
Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that
thou doest these things?
Jesus had made His point, His audience was probably stunned yet not one of them actually
challenged Him about the things that He was saying because in their hearts they knew that He
was right…….what they questioned was His authority to challenge the existing order and their
way of doing things.
The Jews, are probably the Jewish leaders, the Sanhedrin, the ones who constantly challenged
and opposed Jesus throughout His earthly Ministry. These leaders expected and hoped for the
Messiah, they just could not accept that Jesus would be the one. (John 1:11 He came unto His
own and His own received Him not).
What sign shewest thou unto us, These carnal men wanted Jesus to perform a miracle or show
them some sign to prove that He was the Messiah.
Obviously they had overlooked the prophecy of Mal 3:1-3- speaking of Jesus’ mission to purify
the religion of the Jewish Nation by driving sin from its midst.
1. Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord,
whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant,
whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
2. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for
he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi,
and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
The proof that Jesus offered was the proof of His coming death and resurrection. The Church is
not a building but a body, and here Jesus was speaking of His own body as the Temple…and
truly our bodies are the Temple of the most Holy and High God so we must be careful of what
we put into our bodies, of where we carry them and of what we expose them to. Jesus said that in
three days I will raise it up. It is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that validates Him as the
This statement of Jesus was meant to cause them to listen a little closer and look a little deeper
into what He was saying. However, at this time neither the Jewish leaders nor His disciples
understood the full meaning of what He was saying to them. However later during His trial, His
accusers would remind Him of these words. (Matt 26:60-61)
Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up
in three days?
His stunned audience responded by reminding him that it had taken 46 years to build the Temple.
Herod the Great had undertaken the task of rebuilding the Temple that had been built by
Zerubbabel, this project had begun around 19-20BC. The original Temple been destroyed
centuries earlier by Nebuchadnezzer in 586 BC and when the returning Jews got back to
Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel the process of restoring the original Temple began.
Jesus’ statement seemed outrageous to them because in their minds this was a physical
But he spake of the temple of his body.
Jesus was not speaking of a literal rebuilding of the Temple, but He was speaking of His own
body. The Temple was symbolic of God’s presence with Israel. As Emmanuel, Jesus is now
God with us, and Jesus was saying to them that what God had originally purposed through the
Temple, God would now fulfill through Him. Under the old order the sacrificial system would
provide the forgiveness of sins, but now Jesus would provide the forgiveness of sins through His
own sacrifice. His body would become the “paschal lamb” the Passover Sacrifice whose blood
would be shed for the remission of our sins. It was this Temple, His physical body, that would be
raised on the third day.
As new Testament believers, we are the Temple of God.
When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this
unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
Unfortunately, it was not until after His death, and resurrection that the disciples fully understood
what Jesus had been saying to them all along. However, once their eyes had been enlightened to
the truth, and they had been empowered and indwelt by the Holy Spirit…their word, and their
witness, would radically change the whole world.
Our lesson today shows us that Jesus took radical steps to deal with sin, and it behooves us to
question what influences have we allowed to enter into our sacred places and most importantly
what influences have we allowed to have access into our hearts. The marketing in the Temple did
not happen overnight, it was the result of a gradual process. Was started as a simple trickle,
ended up to be a major flood.
In the beginning the religious leaders of the Temple allowed the marketing to be done at a
distance from the Temple, but as they distanced themselves from the true worship of God, the
influence of sin took a foothold and once there it spread to the sanctuary.
It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine, it’s not always the big things that do the most damage, but
the little things that we accommodate or make room for in our lives. The devil doesn’t need a
whole lot of space all he needs is just a little access and once there he’ll take possession.
Let’s radically amputate those things from our lives that we know the Lord is not pleased with.
Let’s keep our sanctuaries Holy and dedicated, and let’s keep our hearts Holy and Pure.