Summary: I wonder if Jesus were to enter your Temple, the place designated as your place of worship, what would He think? Would He see your Temple had been replaced by thoughts of business and making a buck? What do you daydream about during worship?
Video is shown of Jesus’ throwing the Money-Changers out of the Temple before sermon.
This is three month long study of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. This is greatest week in history. Bracketed by Palm Sunday on one end and Easter Sunday on the other, this is the most important week in history. On Friday, Jesus will die. On Thursday, Judas will betray Him. Today’s focus is Monday of the Greatest Week in History.
And before we read our passage, allow me to set the scene. It’s Monday, just ninety six hours away from His death and about eighty hours away from Judas’ kiss on Jesus’ cheek. Jesus does three items on Monday:
1) Jesus curses a barren fig tree;
2) Jesus cleanses the Temple;
and 3) Jesus returns to Bethany (Mark 11:19).
Today’s Scripture Passage
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house” (Luke 2:41-49)?
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers. 47 And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words” (Luke 19:45-48).
It’s difficult to overestimate the importance of the Temple in Jesus’ day. Work on rebuilding the Temple begin a half century before Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. And history tells us some 11,000 were working on the Temple at the time of his construction. The rebuilding process was not complete in Jesus’ day for it would go on another three decades before it was finished.
To get a size of the Temple and its surrounding complex, consider this… The Temple complex would have roughly been the equivalent of thirty-five football fields. Much of the outside façade of the Temple was covered with gold plates so when the sun rose the reflection was nearly blinding. On a clear day the brilliance of the Temple was visible from a considerable distance outside Jerusalem. And this brilliance was not due to gold alone; the upper parts of the Temple were pure white, probably marble. Once a year the priests applied whitewash to the upper sections. At the very top gold spikes lined the roof designed to keep birds from perching on top of the Temple. No expense was spared. The Temple was widely considered to be the very dwelling place of God unlike no other place on earth.
The Outer Court
Now if you walked into the temple, when you walked through the first door of a series of doors, the first area you got to was the court of the Gentiles, or Court of the Nations. It was the only place where the non-Jews could go. It was the biggest of the divisions of the temple. This was the place where all the business operations of the temple were set up. Oh my goodness. What an operation it was! When Jesus walked in, he would immediately have seen (I’m not exaggerating) thousands of people buying and selling animals at hundreds of locations, and hundreds of foreign currency moneychangers. The historian Josephus tells us in one Passover week one year, 25,000 lambs were bought, sold, and sacrificed in the temple courts. If you’ve seen photos of our financial trading floors then you know how tumultuous and loud they are. It was very inconvenient for many pilgrims to carry livestock with them on a long and arduous journey and so they would wait until they arrived in Jerusalem to purchase their sacrifices.