A continuation of my study and reflections on the Book of John
Jesus Cleanses the Temple, John 2:13-22
13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” 19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
John begins this narrative with the picture of Judaism; he states that “the Passover of the Jews was at hand”. It was an ordinance that the Jews celebrate the Passover for generations to come as a festival to the Lord (Exodus 12:24). It was a reminder of how God had delivered Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians―a redemptive theme. All Jewish males were required to present themselves at the temple in Jerusalem. Jesus in fulfillment of this Law went to the temple at Jerusalem.
The setting at the temple was not for a place of worship. The Jewish authorities had turned this ordinance from its purpose to honor God to another exploitative procedure against the people. The people by Law would come to the temple to make peace offerings, fellowship offerings to God at the temple, and by requirement of the Law their sacrifice must be an animal without blemish for it to be acceptable on to God(Leviticus 22:1). The inspectors at the temple would be in the practice of finding something wrong with the animal that is to be sacrificed, thereby forcing the people to buy an animal at astronomical prices in the temple. Also the temple tax had to be paid in Jewish currency, and the money changers were charging exorbitant exchange rates.
Jesus witnessed all of this and was disheartened. In His anger He began to clear the temple of this filthy merchandising. This was a demonstration of the fact that God freely gives to us. Salvation is to be free for all who come to Him.
Jesus exclaims, “Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise”. It is important that He calls the temple “My Father’s house”. The body of a person is called the temple of God (1 Cor.16:9). We see the first reference to this theme when Jesus said “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He spoke in reference to His own body and the resurrection. The body of a believer belongs to be God and is to be honored as such. Not defiled with vile passions and whoring for that which is perishable. The body is to be used in service to God, in passionate devotion to the things of the kingdom of God.
The Jewish authorities were aware of their sin and rather than arrest Jesus for “disorderly conduct” or “desecrating sacred things”, they stood and watched, only to ask for a sign to prove His authority. One would imagine the disgust Jesus felt at their pettiness, and in response He offered a sign “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Still carnal in their thinking they cite how they built the temple in 46years.
The resurrection from the dead is the greatest display of God’s power. It is the same miracle that occurs when a person becomes born again. The spirit is recreated and giving new life. In this miracle, God clears out the temple (i.e. the body) from all filth, and He makes His dwelling with the person.