Summary: how Jesus cleansed the temple and paved the way for our salvation
Let’s get closer to home. How do you evaluate your worship? After returning home from church on Sunday morning, do you ever find yourself saying, “I didn’t like that service. None of the hymns were my favorites. There was so much baby noise I could hardly concentrate. The pastor’s sermon was way too long. And, my goodness, I wonder whether the organist was wearing mittens”? Who’s at the center of that view of worship? I am. What I think of worship is what counts. That’s the attitude toward worship that Jesus condemned in ancient Jerusalem and still condemns today. Instead of asking, “what’s in it for me?”, it would be better to ask, “did that worship service glorify God? Did it help me to get a stronger hold on God’s grace?” Could it be that Jesus needs to overturn our hearts and set us straight on what is really important? That’s why Jesus was so angry with what was happening in the temple. It wasn’t giving glory to God in GOD’S house.
II. For our salvation
Earlier I painted politicians as being wishy washy. This isn’t always the case. There are occasions where politicians take a very strong and clear stand against something. This isn’t always the case, but sometimes - maybe he is getting paid by a special interest group to have a certain law pass. So he has a secret purpose for doing something - which is then called a “hidden agenda.” Jesus said what he said and did what he did because He had a great zeal for His Father’s honor. But this wasn’t the only reason he lashed out at the money changers and cattle salesmen. Jesus had what we might call a “hidden agenda” in cleaning out the temple. But it wasn’t for a devious or self centered purpose - it was for a saving purpose.
This becomes obvious when we look at what Jesus did. When you begin a new job - you usually try to be on your best behavior. You wouldn’t think of insulting the boss. Your first day in school you wouldn’t have thought of spitting on the carpet. When candidates run for office - the last thing they try to do is insult the voters. Here we see Jesus at the very beginning of his ministry, and he certainly seemed to break all the rules for how to win friends and influence people. Instead of schmoozing the religious leaders of his day - Jesus stepped on their toes. When Jesus chased out the money changers, He was stepping on the religious leaders’ toes - doing something that they should have done. So they demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
By this point in Jesus’ ministry, the Jews should have known what gave Jesus the authority to do this. John the Baptist had been steadily telling the people, “Jesus is the Christ.” If Jesus would have performed some miracle at this point, it would have been like throwing pearls before the swine - they just would have denied the miracle anyway and claimed that Jesus was doing it by the power of Satan. So Jesus just said to them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Obviously, they weren’t going to tear down the temple, so this answer only made them more angry. But that was Jesus’ hidden agenda! Jesus could use the anger of the chief priests to eventually lead the people to cry, “crucify him!” If Jesus could end up at the cross - then He could be the scapegoat of God’s wrath and die for the sins of the people!