Summary: The hearers are to understand that evil is to be driven from society and from our individual lives by the zeal of Jesus.
Death was coming in the darkness. Every family would be touched by death. Grief was on the wings of the night. The only way to be saved was to eat a special meal with unleavened bread and put the blood of the sacrificial lamb above the door post. Those in the community who followed these instructions would be spared—they would be identified as different from those in the other community. The other community was part of the world, they followed the wrong king. But the community that was separated from the world, the community that followed the instructions of Moses would be saved—the angel of death would pass over them. From that time the community would celebrate the Passover. They were a people called out of the world, separated from the sin, darkness and death; they would not follow the wrong king.
John the Gospel writer knew that the Christians of his day would understand the significance of the Passover; they would know that the broken body and the spilled blood of Christ identified a community called to follow the true God. Those who followed the true king would not be part of this darkness of this world. John begins telling us about the time that Jesus drove evil out of the Temple by mentioning the Passover. He wanted us to understand that that Jesus cleansed the Temple to make it ready for the Passover that would be celebrated in just a few days. Jesus was passionate about God House.
Scripture: John 2:13-22 NLT
13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”
19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
This is the Word of God for the people of God.
The story of Jesus driving the money changers out of the Temple is in all four of the Gospels and is a story familiar to most Christians. It is clear that the money changers were wrong. Perhaps many of us have heard sermons about how bad the Temple leaders were. Today I would like for us to have a little—just a little—sympathy for the Temple leaders.
The basic issue was that the Temple was supposed to be kept ceremonially clean. The people who came to worship, to give tithes and to make sacrifices were supposed to bring only acceptable offerings. Roman money and unfit animals would not be accepted. Imagine that for some reason our government started printing pornographic pictures on one dollar bills. Some people might want ushers to meet people in the parking lot so that they could trade five of those offensive ones for five dollar bills that still had the picture of a president on it. That is a reasonable thing. But suppose that this went on, and people appreciated the ushers driving to the bank during the week and being ready with a stack of acceptable fives on Sunday. Because they appreciate the work of the users, perhaps people would begin giving the ushers a little tip to pay for the gas they used driving to the bank. Years later, perhaps the tip would be expected as a standard charge. The same kind of thing happened with the Roman money that was not acceptable in the Temple. The Temple leaders provided the service of exchanging unacceptable money for acceptable money. Probably they started with good intentions, but later began extorting high fees.
To continue with trying to get a current “picture” of this situation it will help if you imagine that over in Burke County they aren’t as careful in the way they bred and handle sheep as we are here in Caldwell County. So, to make sure that only good, clean sheep are allowed in, we will have a few of the same ushers bring in locally grown, Caldwell County sheep for people to buy and use for their sacrifices. At first this would be a good arrangement, but gradually reasonable charges would be replaced with excessive fees.