Summary: In the passage on Jesus cleansing the Temple, we see that there may be some things in our lives that Jesus needs to clean out before we can worship Him.
“God Don’t Want No Dirty House”
INTRODUCTION: We continue in our series on great events in the ministry of Jesus.
After Jesus performed His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, He traveled with His Disciples and family to Capernaum … about 15 miles away – 2:12
After spending a few days there, Jesus went South to Jerusalem for the Passover … about 80 miles (as the crow flies).
TONIGHT, we will see a side of Jesus that we usually don’t see. We think of the meek & lowly Jesus … and rarely think of the Jesus who was consumed with passion over the desecration of the Name of His Heavenly Father.
2:13 – “Passover” was the most important of the 3 great religious feasts. By the time of Christ, it had become a major Spring festival. To prepare for Passover, they would repair the roads for the great influx of people … and whitewash the tombs so nobody would accidentally touch them & defile themselves. Homes would be cleaned, cooking utensils washed, and the house was searched to make sure no leaven was found. Those living in Jerusalem were expected to put up guests, so they thoroughly cleaned their houses. People in Jerusalem usually dressed up in their best clothes, as if they were getting ready for a journey.
It was a time when the Jews celebrated their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Jews from all over would come to the Temple in Jerusalem to present their offerings of a sheep, ox or dove. The animals would be sacrificed in the Temple. The fat would be burned, and the blood would be offered on the altar. The meat would be taken home, and roasted, and eaten by the family. It was at this time that they could pay the temple tax of a silver ½ shekel coin.
“Passover” was a special time of WORSHIP … both in the Temple, and in the family. Families would observe the Passover Meal … which 3 years later Jesus would eat with His Disciples just before His crucifixion.
Jerusalem was bustling with activity and excitement. Passover was the biggest event of the year.
2:14 – Jesus went to the Temple, and saw merchants selling oxen, sheep & doves. It was inconvenient for many people to bring them with them on their journey to Jerusalem, so they just bought their sacrificial animal in Jerusalem.
Jesus also saw the money-changers, whose job it was to exchange the money that the people brought for the special silver ½ shekel for the Temple tax. The people couldn’t use just any coin for the Temple tax. People came from all over the world, and some of the coins had the impression of heathen gods … or Caesar. It was considered blasphemy to offer a coin with the image of a heathen, for the service of God’s Temple. The money-changers would exchange their coins for the Temple coin.
The Temple had become a Mall … for the convenience of the people … a one-stop shopping center … everything in one place.
They used the OUTER COURT for this Mall. There were four courts in the Temple. The COURT OF THE PRIESTS, which was the inner court, where only the Priests could go. The COURT OF THE JEWS, where only natural-born Jews were allowed. It was this court where they handed over their sacrifices to the Priests. The COURT OF WOMEN, where the women were allowed, and could go in no further. The COURT OF THE GENTILES was outside, and it was the large open area that had turned into a shopping mall … or a Super-WalMart!
When Jesus comes to the Temple, He saw the booths set up for the merchants and the money-changers. WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?
The marketplace had moved into the Temple area, and the Temple of God has been dishonored. Instead of worship, prayer, and praise, Jesus found a feeding frenzy of corruption and greed.
WHAT HAD HAPPENED?
o Annas, the High Priest had sold franchises for the concession stands to the various merchants and money-changers … to the highest bidder. He was making a killing!
o The merchants were charging inflated prices for the oxen, sheep & doves.
o If you brought your own oxen sheep, or dove, the Priests would tell you that it was unclean … and you had to purchase one of their “clean” animals. THEN .. they would turn around and sell your “unclean” animal to someone else as a “clean” animal.
o The money-changers would cheat the people by charging an unfair exchange rate for their foreign coins.
What Jesus saw was greed, corruption, and wickedness being carried out right there in the Temple of God … in the Court of the Gentiles.
The COURT OF THE GENTILES was a place set aside for those who were not born Jewish … but had converted to Judaism. They had seen that Jehovah God was the one and only true God … and they renounced their pagan ways, and turned to the God of the Jews.