Summary: The Cleansing of the Temple was chosen for inclusion in the Gospels not as just information, but is amazingly rich in meaning.
1. One guy made a New Year’s resolution without much meaning. He resolved he would never shovel snow again. Since he lived in Miami Beach, Florida, it was a resolution he no doubt kept!
2. Besides the most common resolutions — like losing weight, exercising, or eating healthy, some folks resolve to start their spring cleaning early, be organizes, and throw things out.
3. Cleaning house for the New Year is attainable.
4. During Passover season nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus decided to clean house. He had done so once before. This event is known as the “Second Cleansing of the Temple.” The first cleansing was three years earlier, and recorded in John 3:13-22.
5. But He didn’t clean with spic and span, comet, or murphy’s soap. This was to be a different kind of cleaning, an attempted cleansing from corruption and snobbery.
6. A careful reading of all 4 Gospels suggests Jesus used the whip on the animals, not the people. He yelled at the people and turned over tables.
Main Idea: The Cleansing of the Temple was chosen for inclusion in the Gospels not as just information, but is amazingly rich in meaning.
I. Jesus ANGRY Response to the Merchants
A. Issues were NOT about merchandising at large
1. Crooked high priestly family
2. Refusing perfectly good animals to make money
3. Locating the merchandise in the courts, thus displacing gentile believers
4. Restricting sales anywhere else near temple
B. Hillel vs. Shammai: REACHING gentiles or separating completely from them?
1. From a human perspective, how could Jesus get away with this twice? Popular support for this! The fact Jesus got away with this twice suggests public disgust with this corruption as well — everyone knew Jesus was right
2. And, possibly, other zealous Jews may have done something similar. The Talmud contains no mention of this at all, which might be expected if Jesus’ behavior was considered scandalous by the School of Hillel, the main authors of the Talmud. The Talmud, however, includes curses on these corrupt priests who prospered from this.
3. Even after the Temple was destroyed, the debate continued
R. Johanan said: A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance;2 it is our inheritance, not theirs… An objection is raised: R. Meir used to say. Whence do we know that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest? From the verse, [Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments:] which, if man do, he shall live in them. Priests, Levites, and Israelites are not mentioned, but men: hence thou mayest learn that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest! …
[b. Sanhedrin 59a]
C. Messiah’s special RIGHT: to purify the Temple
Malachi 3:1-3, ““Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.”
This is the substitute cleansing; the full cleansing will occur when Jesus returns to set up His Kingdom.
Maher Shallal Hashbaz substituted for Emmanuel, the Magi for the Kings of the earth, John for Elijah, Palm Sunday for Jesus’ future coronation, the Mount of Transfiguration for the Millennium then, Pentecost for the pouring out of the Spirit on Israel in the Tribulation, and, here, the Cleansing of the Temple as a predictor of the full cleansing.
II. The Biblical BASIS for Jesus’ Behavior
A. Prophetic: EXPECTED of Messiah (Zechariah 14:21)
Zechariah 14:21, “And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.”
In the first cleansing, John 2:17, “His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Psalm 69:9, “For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.”
B. Hypocrisy: UNACCEPTABLE lifestyles could not be ignored (Jeremiah 7:11)
Jeremiah 7:11, “Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord.”