Summary: 7th sermon in a John series

Cleaning House

John 2.12-25

What gets you worked up? What gets you excited? Some people get excited over ballgames. Some get worked up over political issues. Others are energized by work. I know some who get excited over things such as cars or trucks. Such individuals work diligently to keep their car or truck washed and waxed at all times. They want it to be detailed properly. They want it to look good. They want it to smell good. And they get agitated when it does not.

* New car, parking in the back of Wal-Mart parking lot (not a worry now, I own a mini-van and there is nothing sporty about a mini-van). But I used to be one of those who got worked up when my vehicle was dirty.

* Cantaloupe juice story—my brother got “worked up” b/c I was transporting cantaloupes in the back of his 78 Celica.

What gets you excited or agitated or worked up?

In our text today, we read about an occasion when Jesus got worked up. He got agitated and angry. That’s right, Jesus got angry. Now his anger was not a sinful anger b/c He was angry for the right reason. He had a legitimate reason to be agitated. Let’s read about this incident together.

After the water into wine miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee and a brief visit to Capernaum, Jesus and his disciples went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

The Jewish Passover celebration commemorated the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, when the death angel passed over every home where the blood of a lamb was applied to the doorposts of the home (Ex. 12-13). Passover reminded the Jews of the time the angel “passed over.” It also initiated the Feast of Unleavened Bread, so the entire celebration lasted over a week.

Passover attendance for Jewish males 12 and over was compulsory. On the 10th day of Nisan (March/April), a lamb w/o blemish was taken to Jerusalem and on the 14th day, between 3-6 pm, the sacrificial lamb was killed. Passover was a sacred holiday for the Jewish people. It represented the very essence of who they were—God’s chosen people.

It is difficult to imagine how Jesus must have felt when He approaches the temple and finds it filled with merchants and money-changers. You might ask, “What were they doing there?” Multitudes of people flocked to Jerusalem during Passover. People from all over the world traveled to the holy city for the celebration.

The purpose of these merchants and money-changers was two-fold. One, many of the people did not bring animals with them for sacrifice, so they purchased animals there in Jerusalem. Second, all Jewish males and proselytes were required to pay a half-shekel temple tax in the coinage of the temple (taxes were prevalent even in the first century, the worship tax). Furthermore, foreign monies bearing the image of a pagan deity or ruler were unacceptable; therefore, the money changers would exchange their coinage for a small fee.

In days gone by, these activities took place outside of the temple, but now the merchants, animals, and exchangers have moved inside the temple courts. The sacredness of the temple has been bartered for profit and convenience. And as Jesus approached the temple, he becomes angry at what the temple has become.

Remember, Jesus visited the temple on at least one previous occasion. When he was 12 years old, he accompanied his parents to Jerusalem. It was on that instance that he confounded the Jewish scholars and teachers with his OT knowledge. The temple of Luke 2 was a place to worship God and study His word, but nearly 20 years later, it has become a place of merchandise and exchange. Indeed, the temple needs cleansing. And that is exactly what Jesus does.

John tells us that Jesus makes a scourge of cords and drives away the animals and merchants. Also, he overturns the tables of the money changers and commands the profiteers to get out of the temple. “Stop making My Father’s house a place of business,” he orders. Jesus took this desecration personal.

We have here one of the more uncommon images of Jesus in the NT. Here we find Jesus angry and aggressive as he drives out animals, overturns tables, and creates a scene. This picture of Jesus (found in all 4 gospels) challenges the soft-spoken, feeble, and weak image of Jesus that we often imagine. He is the opposite. He is angry, aggressive, and powerful.

As a matter of fact, this incident brings to the disciples’ minds a quote from Ps. 69.9: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Jesus is consumed with zeal for his Father’s house and it displays itself in his actions.

* This lets me know that sometimes it is okay to get angry when the things of God are being defiled or desecrated. Sometimes anger is appropriate. We need to have some righteous zeal about the things of God. When the Bible is attacked and belittled, it should anger us. When sacred images of our Lord or certain events like the Last Supper are mocked or desecrated in the name of art, it should make us angry. When the blessed name of God or Jesus Christ is cursed, blasphemed, or used as a byword, it should fill us with righteous indignation. Sometimes it is right to get angry as Jesus did over the desecration of the things of God.

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