The Cleansing of the Temple

“For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
                             —Ps. 69:9 (cf. Jn. 2:13-17; Matt. 21:12-17)

 

That’s exactly what happened to Jesus. He was consumed by zeal for the LORD’s house.

Can you imagine the scene? The whole city was frantic with excitement and expectation as Jesus came into Jerusalem.[1] Many expected that Jesus would soon bring freedom from Roman oppression and establish a reign of peace. People expected Jesus to ridicule Rome and inaugurate the Jewish state. Jesus, instead, condemns what’s going on in the Jewish temple.

If Jesus’ actions are unexpected it is because of misunderstanding or lack of zeal on our part. What Jesus did is in full agreement with Scripture (cf. Jer. 7:11; Zech. 14:21). The temple was to be a house of prayer, not a “den of robbers” (Is. 56:7). Specifically, the house of prayer is supposed to be “for all peoples” (v. 7). Because of all the selling, however, the court of the Gentiles would have been so filled with commotion that neither Jew nor Gentile would have been able to pray without distraction.

Jesus has concern for the poor, the sick, and the outsider. Jesus stands up for them even to the point of experiencing opposition. “Christ does more than denounce injustice—he takes action against it.”[2] That is good news!

Jesus wants people—all people!—to have unhindered access to the LORD. He wants it so badly that He provides it by the sacrifice of Himself. Jesus died “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Jn. 11:52).

Jesus creates a temple of God that is made up of all nations! And there is no more dealing with moneychangers and purchasing a sacrifice because He is Himself the ultimate sacrifice. It is through Him, and Him alone, that all people, whosoever they are, can come boldly to God! And they can come freely. Indeed, they must go freely because there is no payment great enough and no payment necessary. It is by grace that we are saved.

Reflections

  • What might be some ways as a modern church we might be missing it and might deserve the fierce rebuke of Jesus?
  • Are you as jealous for all nations to be able to access God as Jesus was? What practical steps can you take to be part of Jesus’ mission to reach the nations? 

Prayer

Father, we thank You that through Jesus there is a way for all people, whosoever they are, to come to You! We thank You for Jesus who was slain and ransomed people for You from every tribe and language  and people and nation (Rev. 5:9). It is in His name that we pray. Amen. 

__________

[1] Craig L. Bloomberg says that the term for “stirred in Matthew 21:10 is the Greek word eseisthe which is used to reference earthquakes and apocalyptic upheavals in 27:51; Rev. 6:13 (Matthew, p. 313).

[2] Bloomberg, Matthew, 316.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

One response to “The Cleansing of the Temple”

  1. Nadia says :

    Every tribe and language and people and nation 💔💔💔

    Like

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