Summary: Jesus got mad because the temple was not being used for prayer as it was intended. Today, we are the temple.
“I never expected that to happen. He just didn’t seem like that kind of guy.” And that’s how the story goes. We’ve all seen interviews like that on TV How there’s some random act of violence, and come to find out it was the quiet guy living next door. News teams and reporters interview the neighbors and the statements are often the same... “He basically kept to himself. Never caused any trouble before. I don’t know what happen, I guess he just lost it.”
Maybe that’s what happened with Jesus. I mean, we all have our own ideas of what he’s really like, right? Just think about the images of Christ that we see so often... meek and mild, always hanging around children or holding a lamb.
POWERPOINT - Images of Jesus
That’s how we picture Jesus. But we read a passage earlier in the service where Jesus breaks the stereotype we’ve cast on Him. He had just been welcomed into Jerusalem by a crowd of people shouting his praises, hailing him as King. He had ridden into town on a donkey, a sign of peace and humility. But his next actions would shock the people and infuriate the religious leaders.
Lynn read about it earlier in the service, but now see for yourself what happened when Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem.
VIDEO CLIP – CBS Jesus Mini-series
Not exactly what you’d expect of Jesus, is it? In fact, I think his actions would have made the news. Imagine the headlines:
Trouble at the Temple
Carpenter Creates Chaos
Something set Jesus off. But what was it? What caused Him to lose His cool? Was it just that he had some anger that had built up over the years and something just had to give? Was it a result of some traumatic experience he had as a child? Was it something that could be blamed on His parents?
I’ll tell you what it was. It was the fact that the temple was being used for purposes other than it was intended for.
What Was the Purpose of the Temple?
So what was the purpose of the Temple? Well, to find that out let’s take a look back into the Old Testament.
1 Kings 5:5 finds King Solomon talking about the Temple.
1 Kings 5:5 (NLT)
So I am planning to build a Temple to honor the name of the LORD my God, just as he instructed my father that I should do. For the LORD told him, `Your son, whom I will place on your throne, will build the Temple to honor my name.’
1Kings 6 finds God talking to Solomon, saying:
1 Kings 6:12-13 (NLT)
"Concerning this Temple you are building, if you keep all my laws and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. I will live among the people of Israel and never forsake my people."
The purpose of the temple? It was a place to communicate with God. It would represent the presence of God among the people and it would serve as a place to pray to Him and worship Him.
So what was it that Jesus saw when he arrived in Jerusalem that day that upset Him so much? He saw a marketplace. He saw people conducting all kinds of business there. He saw money exchangers cheating the people on their rates. He saw people more concerned about making a buck than encountering God.
You see, the Jews had a bit of a dilemma. Part of what happened at the temple was the offering of sacrifices, and the animals to be sacrificed were supplied by the temple. And the people could buy the animals right there on the premises. But, they could only purchase them using Jewish shekels and could not buy them using Roman or Greek currency. Since Israel at the time was under Roman rule, people did not always have easy access to shekels. So money exchangers started conducting business at the temple. This wouldn’t be so bad if they were simply providing a necessary service, but they were out to make a substantial profit, to the point that they continuously raised their rates and cheated the people. Kind of like the price of gas around holidays.
And from this a whole marketplace seemed to arise in the outer court of the temple. Let’s take a look at the temple so we can have a better idea of what was going on.
This is a map of what Jerusalem supposedly looked at this time of history. You can see by the size of the temple that it was a very important part of the Jewish community. In fact, a lot of time and money had been put into building it. The temple had originally been built by King David’s son, Solomon, around 966 B.C. It was an extremely prestigious building that was to be the visible dwelling place of God on earth and housed the Ark of the Covenant, the chest that contained the stones that Charlton Heston brought down from Mount Sinai. But the original temple was destroyed by the Babylonian Army in 586 B.C. who took the Israelites into captivity.