Summary: #7 in series. In this text we see An expression of Man’s irrevance,an example of Divine Displeasure and a demand for Jesus’ authority.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 7
“When God Gets Mad!”
John apparently considered the incident recorded in John 2 beginning in verse thirteen to be one of the more significant actions of the Lord at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Our task today is to learn why this is true and what the cleansing of the temple has to teach men and women living in the 21st century America.
First of all, by way of introduction we need to understand that the temple in Jerusalem under discussion is not the first temple built by Solomon (1 Kings 6-7), nor is it the second temple rebuilt by the Jews returning from the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 6:15), but rather the third temple known as “Herod’s Temple” which has been under construction for 46 years up to this point.
There are in fact two cleansings of the temple, the one found here in our text in John which occurred at the beginning of our Lord’s earthly ministry and the one recorded by the Synoptic gospels (Matt, Mark and Luke) which occurs at the end of the Lord’s ministry and seems to precipitate His crucifixion!
The cleansing of the temple does not permanently eliminate the abuses described in our text. The same conditions existed when Jesus cleanses the temple the second time. I believe that the first cleansing of the temple was to make a statement about Himself; the temple and the Jewish religious system – not to permanently solve the problem.
We pick up with the story in verse thirteen,
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”
Passover is the annual feast commemor-ating the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, and it is the most important of the three religious feasts that Israel kept each year. By Jewish law every adult male within fifteen miles of Jerusalem was required to make the journey to the Temple for the celebration.But more than that, Passover was a special time of worship … both in the temple and in the homes. Passover was the biggest event of the year. Passover was a time of great expectancy across the land – probably very much like what we experience during the Christmas season. The entire land bustled with the spirit of Passover.
But what we see is not what one would expect …
First, We See An Expression Of Man’s Irreverence. (2: 14)
Verse fourteen tells us what Jesus found as he entered the temple, “And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.”
It was at Passover that two important matters of worship occurred. First, Jews and Gentiles who had converted to the Jewish religion were required to pay his temple tax as an offering to the Lord. Every Jew over the age of nineteen years of age had to pay his yearly half shekel tax, the equivalent of two days’ wages. The problem lay in the fact that this tax could only be paid in the official acceptable currency. Any other currency had to be exchanged. The hidden cost of this exchange could equal another two days wages.
When I went to Mexico recently I exchanged some dollars into pesos as I entered the country. On my return I wanted to convert the pesos I had left back into dollars, because I could not spend pesos in the US. Believe me when I say that I did not get near the amount in dollars when I changed currencies. That is the situation here as well.
And secondly, a sacrifice would be offered for the atonement of sin. When it came to the sacrifices each worshipper was allowed to bring to the temple the animal of his own selection, but just let him try it! Charles Swindoll adds, “Adding to the corruption was the way sacrifices were approved. A fee was charged to inspect all the animals brought to the temple for sacrifice. Most of the time, the inspectors found the animal blemished in some way, disqualifying it as a legitimate offering. This forced the out-of-town traveler to purchase an ‘approved’ animal at the temple for often ten to twenty times the fair market value. No wonder Christ was enraged.” (Charles Swindoll. “Exalting Christ , The Son of God” Bible Study Guide. A Study of John 1-5. (Fullerton, Calif.: Insight For Living, 1975) p. 35]
The temple was divided into four distinct areas; the Court of the Gentiles – covered an area of about fourteen acres , the court of the Jewish women, the court of Jewish men and the court of the priest. (Insert Power Point drawing of Herod’s Temple here)
As Jesus made his way into the Temple the sights, sounds and smells must have been almost overwhelming. It smelled and sounded more like a livestock auction than it did a place of worship.