The Cleansing of the Temple

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: John 2:13-25


I.         Under Jewish law, all males were required to travel to Jerusalem three times a year for special feasts - Deuteronomy 16:16-17

            A.        Sacrifices had to be made and offerings given, but it wasn’t always practical to ship animals or food all the way to Jerusalem - Deuteronomy 14:23-26

            B.        What started as a matter of convenience turned into a money making operation

                        1.         In Jesus’ time, the Jews had made a rule that the Temple would not accept non-Jewish funds, so all foreign currency had to be exchanged prior to giving to the temple.

                        2.         It was also a rule that all sacrifices had to be purchased with Jewish coins

                        3.         Moneychangers would exchange foreign coins for Jewish coins – for a fee.

                        4.         Merchants would sell sacrificial animals, but would charge more than the going rate

            C.        If this wasn’t bad enough, these operations were moved into the courtyards of the temple itself.

                        1.         It showed the approval of the Jewish religious leaders.

                        2.         Some believe the priests were renting space to the merchants.

II.        Jesus came upon this scene early in his ministry

            A.        He made a scourge (a set of knotted ropes) and drove the moneychangers, merchants, and animals out of the Temple courts. He overturned their tables, pouring coins on the ground.

            B.        Doves were in cages, so he ordered the merchants to take the doves away.

            C.        He justified his action by alluding to Jeremiah 7:11

                        1.         The Jews in Jeremiah’s day lived sinful lives and then thought they could offer worship to God and be saved while in their sins - Jeremiah 7:3-11

            D.        The disciples saw his actions and recalled a prophecy - Psalms 69:9

            E.        Anger is not wrong, but uncontrolled anger is wrong

                        1.         James 1:19-20 - slow to anger

                        2.         Ephesians 4:26 - Be angry, but without sin

                        3.         Jesus was justified in his anger

III.       Of course the Jews didn’t see it this way. They wanted to know what right Jesus had to drive the merchants out

            A.        Interestingly, they recognized Jesus’ actions as those of a prophet because they asked for a sign.

                        1.         It hints at the fact that they knew they were doing something that God didn’t like

            B.        Jesus’ reply was purposely confusing - John 2:19

                        1.         Standing on the Temple grounds at the time, it is understandable that the people thought Jesus was speaking of the physical temple.

                        2.         But that temple took crews of men 46 years to build. The thought of one man rebuilding it three days as ridiculous

                        3.         John tells us that Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection, but even his disciples did n’t understand until after he arose - John 2:21-22

            C.        What is interesting is that three years later, people still remembered what Jesus said - Mark 14:58; 15:29

                        1.         It irritated them

IV.      Jesus’ anger wasn’t out of character for him

            A.        Anger at the Jews’ stubbornness - Mark 3:5

            B.        Jesus’ scolding of the Jews - Matthew 23:13-36

            C.        God has the right to be angry with sinners - Romans 2:5-6

            D.        That wrath will be one day displayed - II Thessalonians 1:7–9

V.        But as often happens, people return to their sins. Three years later the scene is repeated - Mark 11:15-18 (also Luke 19:45-46 and Matthew 21:12-13)

            A.        The details are slightly different

            B.        Jesus quotes both Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11

            C.        He prevents people from using the Temple grounds as a shortcut for carrying goods

            D.        There is no challenge to Jesus’ authority this time, only anger

VI.      Malachi prophesied that the Messiah would appear in the Temple in anger and that he would purify the people so that they could properly worship God - Malachi 3:1-3

            A.        Have you thought about that? Paul said that we are temple of God - I Corinthians 6:19-20

            B.        The Corinthians had problems with sin

                        1.         They allowed a fornicator to worship with them - I Corinthians 5:1-2

                                    a.         It impacted the church and its worship - I Corinthians 5:6-7

                        2.         They were told to give no support to sin - I Corinthians 5:9-11

                        3.         They were reminded that you cannot serve God while in sin - I Corinthians 6:9-11

                        4.         You cannot being joined in sin and joined with Christ - I Corinthians 6:15-17

            C.        And the conclusion is that you cannot bring sin into the temple - I Corinthians 6:18-20

            D.        Why? Because you’ll face the wrath of the same Lord who drove out the merchants

VII.     Don’t try bringing the world into the church - Philippians 3:18-20

            A.        Be holy - I Peter 1:13-17

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