A Spiritual House Cleaning
It was the time of the Passover. Jerusalem was filled with throngs of pilgrims who had come to remember and celebrate how the Lord delivered the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Jesus and his disciples were also in town. And when Jesus saw what was taking place in the temple, he cleaned house. Whenever religious machinery gets in the way of spiritual purpose, it’s time for a spiritual house cleaning. This record of Jesus cleansing the temple was a sign to believers and a sign to unbelievers.
I. A sign to believers (John 2:13-17)
The merchants and money-changers served a legitimate function in the temple. Some pilgrims needed an animal to sacrifice to God. Others needed their currency exchanged for suitable temple offerings. It was not wrong that they were there. But it was wrong that they were in the way. The Father’s house had become a house of trade. Seeing this house cleaning, his disciples remembered that scripture promised the Messiah would be consumed with zeal for the house of God (Ps. 69:9).
II. A sign to unbelievers (John 2:18-23)
The unbelieving Jews did not get the point of it all. So they asked Jesus for a sign to prove his authority. Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). They still did not get it. It took 46 years to be Herod’s temple. How could it be rebuilt in three days? But Jesus was not talking about a building. He was talking about his body (v. 21). The disciples remembered this prediction when Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day (v. 22).
Was Jesus a revolutionary? Yes and no. Jesus did not try to overthrow the order of things by political unrest, civil protest, or terrorist acts. The religious leaders sought to have Jesus put to death by accusing him of making terrorist threats (Matt. 26:61). He claimed to be able to destroy the temple and rebuilt it in three days. But Jesus was talking about his death, burial, and resurrection. This is how Jesus changes the order of things: by the blood of his cross and the power of his resurrection. The cross of Jesus is the great display of the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:18-25).