The Temple Incident
THE COMMENTARY: Preliminary questions asked and text pondered.
The miracle of H2Oh!
He went down to Capernaum with His mother, His brothers, and His disciples
Where is Joseph? Was Cana a family affair? Has the family moved to a new
location? His brothers are still not afraid/ashamed to be seen with Him.
And they remained there a few days
Calm before the storm? Reflection on the miracle? Relaxed teaching time?
The Passover of the Jews was near and Jesus went up to Jerusalem
One of the required feast for all of the Covenant people, Israel, now simply
called the Jews.
Every Jewish person looked forward to this event for it was convocation,
celebration, and vacation all rolled up into one joyous occasion. Jesus
wouldn't miss it even when it became the death of Him.
In the temple He found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and money
changers seated at their tables.
Lawful activities during festival. After all, people needed to have the
proper sacrifices available
when they came from out of town The temple tax could only be paid with
proper money free from the taint of heathendom.
Making a whip of cords, He drove all of them out of the temple, both the
sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the moneychangers and
overturned their tables.
Extra-biblical historic evidence, Josephus, tells us where these people had
set up shop in the temple. It wasn't the Holy of Holies. It wasn't in the
court of the men. It wasn't even in the court of the women. It was in the
court of the Gentiles, where you and I as Jewish converts would have been
allowed to come and approach God in worship. Wouldn't that make you angry?
It did trip the trigger for what Jesus knew was proper. (cf Malachi 3:1
Messiah in the Temple)
He told those who were selling doves, " Take these things out of here! Stop
making My Father's house a marketplace!
The secret of His righteous indignation was that instead of enhancing the me
ans of worship for the pilgrims and other congregants, they were preventing
worshippers from worshipping God!
His disciples remembered that it is written, " Zeal for Your house will
consume Me. "
Then or much later?
The Jews then said to Him, What sign can you show us for doing this?
This has been going on ever since we can remember. What right do you have to
come in here and change our order with this chaos? Where's the proof? Put up
Jesus answered them, " Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it
Only with the " rest of the story " can we make any sense of this.
The Jews then said, " The temple has been under construction for forty-six
years and you will raise it up in three days? "
Pride in our present religious achievements often makes us blind to truth or
honest inquiry. The temple was so much their god that they swore oaths by
the temple or even the furniture of the temple.
But He was speaking of the Temple of His Body. After He was raised from the
dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this; and they believed the
Scripture and the Word that Jesus had spoken.
Faith seems to be a series of times of doubt and renewed belief
strengthening us anew as we discover new truths confirmed by the words of
Jesus and the Spirit's testimony within us.
When He was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in His
name because they saw the signs that He was doing.
Pledging yourself to Jesus has to be based upon who He is and not just what
He is doing for you.
But Jesus, on His part, would not entrust Himself to them because He knew
all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for He Himself knew
what was in everyone.
You can fool all of the people some of the time and you can fool some of the
people all of the time but you can't fool Jesus any of the time. He knows
the thoughts and intentions of your heart.
Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 7:1-11
The Christian's Temple
THE STORY: Not just a tale told long ago and far away but a message for us
who live in the here and now.
After the wedding feast at Cana Jesus and His mother, His brothers, and His
disciples went to Capernaum. Peter had a home in the city which seems have
been a staging area for ministry into other areas. We are not told why His
mother or brothers followed but some have speculated that they had family
there or even that they had perhaps moved here after the death of Joseph.
John does not tell us how Jesus spent His time here but perhaps He was
resting for the lull before the storm accompanying next great and public
sign. The dramatic opening that His mother had only hinted of in Cana was to
crash upon the scene in Jerusalem and stir the whole nation.
The Passover was at hand. All of the nation was thronging toward the capitol
and holy city, Jerusalem. At the age of twelve Jesus had astonished the
scholars of the nation with His insightful dialogue with them in the Temple.
But today He would come in the fulness of divine power and authority. The
outermost court, the court of the gentiles was filled with a seedy crowd of
racketeers. There is the raucous sound of the herds and flocks of animals
and the hordes of people hawking their wares and haggling with their
customers. There is a riot of colors from the festive attire of those on
holiday from lands far and near. The Holy Temple of God has been turned into
Suddenly, into this scene a lone figure enters carrying a whip, the symbol
of authority and punishment. A small band of bewildered disciples follow at
a distance. Then with a fearful gesture He brandishes His homemade whip
fashioned from cords lying about the temple pavement as He crosses the court
to where the sellers and money changers are. He steps over to them and
advances toward the nearest blasphemy He can reach. The Divine wrath of
Jesus of Nazareth, the Prophet from Galilee electrifies the multitude and
they flee headlong away from His presence as He thunderously denounces their
hideous desecration of God's House.
The boldest slither off with smoldering defiance on their faces. Wielding
His whip, Jesus drives the dumb brutes and the animals they are selling
before Him and imperiously commands those who had cotes of doves to get them
out of His Father's house. With an indignant sweep He overturns the tables
of the bankers and scatters their ill-gotten gain over the temple floor.
The disciples stand apart awestricken, their mouths agape. Suddenly, they
are reminded of a notable prediction of the Messiah found in the 69th Psalm:
" The zeal of Thy House has eaten me up." Surely, jealous smoldering fires
stirred up this day in the hearts of the prophets for hire would consume Him
in their hatred a few months later at another fateful Passover. Yet it is
His zeal and devotion for God's house that wins this day as He boldly
challenges the power mongers of the nation and publicly denounces their
corrupt misuse of their position and mismanagement of the Temple of His
These hypocritical leaders regroup for an assault and demand that Jesus show
them some miraculous sign to prove that He has the right to override the
High Priest's authority and denounce his legally appointed minions of
marketing. After all there is the matter of a $300,000 a year profit at
A single man with a simple whip in hand drives out a horde of corrupt
bankers and cattle salesman! What greater sign do you want then that?
Yet the blind leaders of the blind ask, " Show us a sign." They ask of a
sign for the sign that God had just given to them.
Jesus answers them, perhaps gesturing toward Himself, with a puzzling
prediction which they cannot either fathom or refute: " Destroy this Temple,
and in three days, I will raise it up. "
They understood Him to predict the destruction of the Temple but scoff at
His ability to erect in three days that which had been in the process of
building for 46 years. But He spoke of His body, given up in sacrifice, the
inevitable tragedy that His work of today began.
After His resurrection from the dead the apostles recalled the words which
the religious leaders had belittled that day and down through the ages have
resounded in the hearts of believers everywhere. " We have an Altar from
which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. " (Hebrews 13:10)
Jesus is the High Priest, sacrifice and altar in whom we put our trust for
eternal salvation. The incentive for faith is the Risen Temple of God, even
The Temple - Herod's Temple Reconstruction begun in 19 B.C. and not
completed until A.D. 63 just 7 years before Titus destroyed it in 70 A.D.
literally tearing it stone from stone as predicted by Jesus (Matthew 24:2)
The Temple Ransom payment - Exodus 30:12-16 - Yearly money given as an
atonement for life for every 20 year old son of Israel and above. 1/2 shekel
= 2 days wages given by rich and poor the same to be used for maintenance of
The Passover sacrifice - The Passover feast was a well regulated and
required feast day which fell upon Nisan ( April ) 14th. Josephus, the
Jewish historian states that 260,000 lambs were sacrificed during this week.
He is also the source for stating that a nickle pair of pigeons went for
$4.00. Thank offerings were also given at this time. He tells us that the
influx of cash amounted to about $300,000 for this week.
" And the Lord Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the
Messenger of The Covenant, in whom you delight, Behold, He is coming, ' says
the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can
stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's
soap. " Malachi 3:1,2
When God's House Is Desecrated - It angers Jesus
The Outer Court ( The Court of the Gentiles )
Annexed into a Shopping Mall.
When God's People are Abused - It angers Jesus.
Jewish believers cheated - Usury in the trade amount ( 12.5 % to make the
Gentile believers ignored ( Outer court was a close as you could come to
When Religious Leaders are arrogant and self-serving - He will bring them
Jesus promised a real Temple Restoration: Himself
When The People are Shallow - Jesus knows their hearts and their motivation
Jesus didn't trust those with "sign" faith.
Follow Jesus because of Who He is not what you think He can do for you.
Don't Misuse the Temple of God. " Know you not that you yourselves are God's
temple and God's Spirit lives in you?" I Corinthians 3:16
Do you keep people from seeing God by your conduct?
Do you abuse the temple of God?
Do you grieveor hinder the work of the Holy Spirit within you?
Don't Mishandle the People of God. " But whoever cause one of these little
ones to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around
his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. " Matthew 18:6
Don't Magnify yourself or material things over God. " You can not worship
God and mammon. " Luke 16:13
When religious people elevate themselves over others and want people to
honor them they forget that Christ is the Head of the church. Coupled with
materialism religious pride will cause a person to lose sight of the goal
and lose their soul.
Don't Misunderstand ( Or twist ) or Ignore the Word of God. " ...the
untaught and unstable distort, as they did with the rest of the Scriptures,
to their own destruction. " 2 Peter 3:16
These men who were teachers of the law twisted the Scripture to maintain
their traditions and let money become the motivating factor of ministry to
others. Those who wrest the Scripture from its context or ignore its plain
teachings to justify what they do are headed for destruction.
Don't Miss the Son of God. " He that has the Son has the life but he that
does not have the Son of God does not have life. " I John 5:12 If in your
religious quest you miss seeing Jesus, the Son of God and recognizing that
He is Lord and Savior, you have lost everything.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS SIGN ( as are all of them from John's perspective )
Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the
disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written
that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that
believing you may have life in His Name. John 20:30,31
Jesus wants full control of our lives.
He wants our motives to be pure and centered upon the Word of God.
He wants our conduct to point to God.
He wants our minds to be centered upon truth not tradition.
He wants our faith to be centered upon His person not what He can do for us.
He must be the Lord of all or He is not the Lord at all.
" The best portion of a good man's life are his nameless, unremembered acts
of kindness and love. " William Wordsworth