This is my Father’s house
12After that He went down to Capernaum with His mother and brothers and disciples, and they stayed there only a few days.13Now the Passover of the Jews was approaching, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.14There He found in the temple [[a]enclosure] those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting there [also at their stands].15And having made a lash (a whip) of cords, He drove them all out of the temple [[b]enclosure]–both the sheep and the oxen–spilling and scattering the brokers’ money and upsetting and tossing around their trays (their stands).16Then to those who sold the doves He said, Take these things away (out of here)! Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise (a marketplace, a sales shop)!(A)17And His disciples remembered that it is written [in the Holy Scriptures], Zeal (the fervor of love) for Your house will eat Me up. [I will be consumed with jealousy for the honor of Your house.](B)18Then the Jews retorted, What sign can [c]You show us, seeing You do these things? [What sign, miracle, token, indication can You give us as evidence that You have authority and are commissioned to act in this way?]19Jesus answered them, Destroy (undo) this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.20Then the Jews replied, It took forty-six years to build this temple (sanctuary), and will You raise it up in three days?21But He had spoken of the temple which was His body.22When therefore He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this. And so they believed and trusted and relied on the Scripture and the word (message) Jesus had spoken.(C)23But when He was in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, many believed in His name [identified themselves with His party] after seeing His signs (wonders, miracles) which He was doing.24But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men];25And He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man [needed no evidence from anyone about men], for He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men’s hearts.] [I Sam. 16:7.]
The first time I knew of Jesus’ clearing of the temple, I was at vacation Bible School at Grace Lutheran Church here in Little Rock. They showed a film representing this event, and immediately I was skeptical. After all, I had been raised in church all of my ten years, and I had never heard of Jesus being anything other than loving. So this story could not be true, could it?
Indeed, it is true, and now, many years later, I understand why this episode was included in these Scriptures. Let’s see if we can break the Scriptures down for a clearer understanding of what is going on here.
- Jesus was at the Temple during the time of the Jewish Passover, a holy day celebrating the salvation of the Jews’ firstborn sons during the curse upon Pharoah. And why were the sons of the Israelites saved while the sons of the Egyptians were slain? Because the Israelites had acted in obedience to God who instructed that they place the blood of a lamb, spotless and without blemish, on their doorposts.
- What was being sold at the temple? Cattle, sheep and doves, to be used in sacrifices during Passover.
- What is wrong with selling animals to be used in temple sacrifice? Let’s look at Exodus 12:1-7 to see what God said through Moses.
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb [a] for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.
First, we see that the Israelites were to take a year old male sheep or goat from their family, or if their family was too small they were to share the sacrifice with their neighbor. Taking a sheep or goat from your own flock is quite different from buying one after you get to the temple. When we offer a sacrifice before God, it should be planned and it should be the best we have to offer. To buy an animal to be used as a sacrifice after arriving at the Temple suggested the sacrifice was not planned to memorialize one of the greatest events in the life of the Israelites, but instead was a last minute decision. And, there would be no way to know if the lamb or goat was a one year old as specified in the Scripture.
Jesus was filled with a righteous anger because the meaning of the Scripture, and indeed, the holy day of Passover, had been lost. He showed us clearly in this passage that (1) it is appropriate to display a righteous anger (anger over things that contradict the will of the Father) and (2) that people will always look for a sign, even when standing before the Son of God.
Have you allowed the cares of the world and your day to day activities to overshadow and even replace the things God has told you to do in remembrance of Him? If so, kneel before your Lord now and ask forgiveness–ask Him to place within your heart the urgency and the desire to be obedient to Him.
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