Read John 2:12-25
12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
17His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."
18Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?"
19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
20The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
23Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. (NIV)
As we begin to get into Jesus’ ministry, we begin to see a big difference between John and the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. The three synoptic gospels are mainly about Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. There is only one trip to Jerusalem mentioned in them. John’s Gospel centers around Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem. In John’s Gospel, Jesus visits Jerusalem many times. And because of this, we see a timing issue come up every now and then. This passage is one of them. The cleansing of the temple in the synoptic gospels happens just after Palm Sunday. John has it as Jesus’ first act of public ministry.
Many theologians believe the timing in the synoptic gospels is correct. John’s Gospel is more about showing who Jesus is than being true to the chronological order of things. John is putting for all the signs at the beginning so that right away, the reader knows who Jesus really is. The synoptic gospels bring us along to a revelation at the end.
Now the story of the money changers is a bit of racket. Most theologians believe that the people in the temple courtyard buying and selling were ripping the people off. They would say that the animals brought to sacrifice were not worthy, but they could buy a worthy animal there. Then there is the problem of bringing foreign currency to the temple. It was not acceptable so those in the temple courtyard would change out your currency, for a price. You get the picture. This passage was to show how Jesus fulfilled a prophecy of the messiah, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” This comes from Psalm 69:8-9:
8I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother's sons; 9for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. (NIV)
There are those who have an interesting take on this story of the cleansing of the temple. We see it in the words of Mark alone. In Mark 11:15-17, we find this:
15On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17And as he taught them, he said, "Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” (NIV)
This is an important point that Mark makes that it is to be called a house of prayer FOR ALL NATIONS. If someone had come to accept God as the true God and came to the temple to pray and meditate on God’s love, that gentile could only get as far as the court of Gentiles. They could not enter the next court, the court of women, or the next court, the court of Jews (only men) and lastly, the court of priests. Jesus was concerned that all a gentile convert would see is this maddening scene of the money and animals bring exchanged. What kind of example is that to a believer.
And this is something we must think about too. What image to we portray in our churches to those who do not believe or just came to faith. Do we turn them away because they don’t have access to all the inside knowledge we have? Do we give a sense that we are hypocrites by our actions because they are not understood yet? We must be cognizant of how we come across to those outside the faith is we want them to join us in being disciples. Where can we improve here at Satellite Beach UMC? What things have we become blind to? These are important questions to ask every now and then.
Blessings and Peace