Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!" Then His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. John 2:13-22
All the males in Israel were required to appear before the LORD God at the temple in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover. In addition to other sacrifices, an unblemished lamb was to be sacrificed and eaten and temple taxes were to be paid. As a result, the outer courts of the temple became a place where merchants, for a profit, sold animals for sacrifice and exchanged money for the coins needed for the temple tax.
Jesus, when He saw it, made a whip of cords and drove them out of the temple, saying, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"
When asked for a sign to prove His Messianic claims and his authority to do this, Jesus told the Jews, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Jesus wasn't referring to the temple building in Jerusalem but to His own body. The sign He gave to verify that He is the Messiah and has the authority to drive out those who abuse His Father's house is His own resurrection from the dead; for as He said would happen, the Jews destroyed the temple of His body, but He raised it up again on the third day.
The Jews misunderstood His words, thinking of the new Jewish temple, which had been under construction already for 46 years and was not yet finished. But Jesus' disciples came to understand His words after He had risen from the dead.
What would Jesus do should He walk into our church buildings today? Would He be pleased with our activities and programs, or would He drive them out? Each church should be "a house of prayer," not "a den of thieves" (cf. Matthew 21:12ff. where Jesus again cleansed the temple in the week of His crucifixion).
Would Jesus be pleased with those who use the churches to sell their goods or advance their careers? Would He say it is okay for groups to sell insurance and retirement plans in connection with the church? Would it be alright to hold all manner of sales and raffles to raise money? What about the many fundraisers and campaigns to support the work of the church? These are tough questions that churches must prayerfully consider and answer with the guidance of God's Word.
But what about the temples of our bodies? The Scriptures tell all who believe: "You are the temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:16); and, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
Jesus is zealous for God's house, as the Scriptures say, "Zeal for Your house has eaten me up" (Psalm 69:9). Not only is Jesus concerned for the earthly temples built with our hands; He is concerned with the temples of our bodies which He has created and redeemed. What would He cast out and cleanse away in your body or in your life?
Are our bodies a "house of prayer" devoted to the LORD God and seeking His glory? Does "the Word of Christ dwell in (us) richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in (our) hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16)? Or, are our bodies and lives filled with our own selfishness and greed? Are we living for ourselves rather than for Christ Jesus, who both created us and then also redeemed us with His own precious blood?
Is Jesus even welcome in the temples of our bodies, or do we question His authority to come into our lives and cast out what is offensive to Him?
Though we, by our sins, destroyed the temple of Jesus' body -- He was crucified and suffered on the cross for our sins and the sins of the whole world, being condemned of God and dying in our stead -- Jesus rose again from the dead in victory on the third day! He is God's Son and our Messiah and Savior! He has redeemed us and made full atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world! His resurrection is proof! It is the sign!
Jesus has the authority to cast out what is evil from our lives. He has the right to cleanse us, and He is zealous for us and our holiness. He comes to us as believers and dwells in us by His Holy Spirit, and He desires that we be wholly devoted to the will and service of God our Father.
God grant that we not challenge His authority to purify and cleanse but welcome His coming and rejoice in the mercy and forgiveness He gives to us for the sake of His innocent sufferings and death and His victorious resurrection! Jesus has paid in full the punishment for our sins, and He forgives and accepts us when we look to Him in faith. At the same time, He also works in us to cleanse us so that we might live our lives for Him!
O dearest Jesus, come into my heart and cast out whatever offends. Forgive me for the sake of Your precious blood shed for my sins, and cleanse my heart and soul that I might live for You. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted by email at [email protected]. More of Moll's devotional writings are freely available at https://goodshepherdonline.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]