Jesus attacks men who cheat in the Temple

The Life of Jesus Christ - Chapter 3 - People who met Jesus during his early work for God - Part 1

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John 2:13-25

The Temple was the special building in Jerusalem where the Jews went to pray to God. When Jesus first began his special work for God, it was the time of the Passover. (The Passover is a holy day for the Jews. They remember the time when God freed them from Egypt. Moses was their leader then. At Passover, Jews meet and have a special meal together. And they used to visit the Temple for Passover.) The Bible mentions two times when Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover.

The Court of the Gentiles

One area in the Temple was called 'the court of the Gentiles'. (Gentiles are people who are not Jews. The Jews did not allow them to enter the rest of the Temple.) The court of the Gentiles was outside the main part of the Temple. Only Jews could enter the other parts of the Temple. Many people came a long way to *worship. The people with authority provided birds and animals for *sacrifice. People could not bring their own birds and animals. In the court of the Gentiles there were tables. People could change their own money into the special Temple money there. They needed special Temple money to buy these things. They needed special Temple money to give. But the people who worked at these tables were evil.

Jesus was angry

Jesus made a whip. He chased out all the people who worked at the tables. He said, ‘How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market’ (John 2:16). He sent away those who cheated people. We call this the ‘cleansing of the Temple’. Jesus did this again in the week before his death. At that time, he said these words. They explain what he did.

Matthew 21:13 Jesus said to them, 'God says, "My house is to be a house of prayer". You are making it a "place for thieves".' (See Isaiah 56:7)

Jesus called these men 'thieves' because they were not honest. This behaviour was terrible. These men worked in a holy place. But, even there, they were cheating other people. Old records show us how much men cheated at the Temple tables. Isaiah and the *prophets spoke about this. Jesus was very angry about it.

We think today that Jesus is full of love for people. Here we learn about another part of his character. He was also holy and perfect. He did nothing wrong. He hated *sin.

There could be nothing good for people at the Temple when bad things happened there. Jesus was very angry three times. Twice it was when bad people used the Temple in the wrong way. What the *prophet Malachi had said now came true.

Malachi 3:1-3: I will send my servant. He will prepare people for me. You are looking for the *Lord. He will come suddenly to his temple. You want him to come and he will come. He will explain God’s *covenant, says the *Lord. But what an experience this will be! Nobody can stand when he appears. For he will make everything clean. He will be like a man who melts silver, to make it perfect. He will make the Levites perfect like that. [The Levites were the men who looked after the Temple.] Then the *Lord will have men who offer perfect *sacrifices to him.

The disciples also noted that the words of Psalm 69:9 came true. It is a psalm about the *Messiah. ‘I will be full of great love for your house [that is, the Temple]’.

Jesus' authority

The rulers of the Temple asked Jesus about his authority. How could Jesus do these things? But Jesus was the Son of God. That was his authority. He showed that he was the *Messiah. His authority was greater than the authority of the *High Priest. The rulers asked for *miracles as a sign. Already Jesus had done some *miracles. The rulers would have seen some *miracles. They would have heard what Jesus taught.

There was only one possible answer for Jesus to give them. He said, ‘Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it again in three days’. These words had a hidden meaning then. People did not understand them. After the *crucifixion and *resurrection the *disciples remembered these words. Then they understood. Jesus meant that his body was God's Temple. He did not mean the Temple that King Herod built. Jesus meant that he would die on a *cross. He would become alive again. These events proved who he was. The *disciples understood this later. The Jewish leaders also remembered what Jesus said. They spoke these words against Jesus at his *trial.

Notice where this event happened. It happened in the ‘court of the Gentiles’. The other areas of the Temple (called the courts of Israel and of the priests) were inside, behind doors. The Jews did not think that the court of the Gentiles was important. Jesus thought that it was.

Jesus came to show people the love of God. He came to let men know God. He came to give his life to die for us all. Now God can forgive us. Now it is possible for us to love God. It is like a new life for us. It is the right life. Our attitudes and our behaviour must be right. This can happen to us only because of Jesus. We must be sorry for the wrong things that we do. We must believe in Jesus. Then God will forgive us. The Jews thought that God would be good to them. They gave God *sacrifices to please him. But their behaviour in the Temple spoiled them. Of course God was not pleased about their evil behaviour. They ought to have realised this fact themselves.

Jesus did many *miracles on this visit to Jerusalem (John 2:23). Many people said that they believed in him. Jesus knew that this would not last. Their opinions would change.


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