Cleansing the Temple

by Duane Maust
John 2: 12-22
March 22, 2009

What is going on in this scripture today? Why did I choose to preach from this? Yes, it was part of the suggested verses today. But I could have chosen to take some other verses. I think these verses can have some good thing for us to think about today.

This happening is recorded in all four of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. It must have made a big impression on them. It probably made a big impression on everyone there that day.

This was one of the biggest festivals for the Jews. Here they were celebrating their deliverance from Egypt.

This whole thing got carried away. They kept adding till they were missing the point of worship.

The Jews placed a high importance in coming to the Passover. The people that lived within 15 miles were expected to come every year and a lot of people beyond that tried to come. They were getting more and more scattered by now. There may have been up to 2.25 million people coming into town. Jerusalem was crawling with people.

There was a temple tax that everyone over 19 had to pay. They had to use the temple money for change. Here they had all this foreign money that they had to change. The tax was half a shekel, which was about two days wages.

The money changers were charging the Jews big amounts to just change their money for the temple tax. Here is a big ripoff right at the temple.

Besides the money, the people were bringing cattle and sheep and doves to the temple to be sacrificed. The animals all had to be inspected to make sure they were perfect for the sacrifice. The animals were not to have a blemish on them anywhere.

I grew up on a farm and showed pigs and cattle at the local county fair. The judge could always find something that wasn’t quite right, except the grand champion. I did get several hog trophies in my youth.

Those temple inspectors were like those judges at the fair. They could always find something wrong with the animal that they brought from home, then they would have to buy one from the seller at the temple and trade their inferior one in. One place I read that the people in the market would resell the inferior one as a good one to other people coming later. It was another ripoff going on in the temple. It was a conspiracy.

All this enraged Jesus as he saw these pilgrims coming to the Passover that could not afford this foolishness. People were coming to worship God and remember how God helped their people get out of Egypt in the past.

In Matt 21:13: “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.”

Mark 11:17 says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations. But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Luke 19:46: “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers.”

When Jesus saw this going on where he came to worship, it ticked him off. The place he came to worship God did not feel like a place of reverence. All the noise and smell of animals and people handling money didn’t get it for Jesus.

Jesus makes a wipe and cleans up the place. This made an impression on the people that day.

We are not totally free from this very tendency today. We don’t offer animals in sacrifice to God. There may be things we let get in the way of our worship. What keeps us from seeing God may be something we let come between God and us. Are we too worried about money. Maybe a boy or girl friend. Maybe I let my job get in the way.

What is cluttering up my mind to keep me from seeing God?

Jesus knew what he was on the earth for. He had a big job ahead of himself. He was here to save us from our sin. It must have felt sickening for him to see worship get so messed up in the temple like it was there. He was here for all these people and gave his life for them.

We must make sure that we don’t let things obscure our worship.

We are three weeks from Easter. We are in the Lent season. This is a good time of the year to think about cleaning up our life. What things are coming in the way of worship? Jesus was thinking about what was coming for him. He probably didn’t know what to think about that mess when he walked into the temple and saw and heard all that stuff.

Read verse 19

Why did Jesus predict his death this way?

His own disciples didn’t put it all together till his death and resurrection.

Jesus liked to keep the Jewish leaders guessing.

In Matt. it says Jesus went out of the city to Bethany for the night. I bet the leader of the temple wanted him to stay out of town.

Mark and Luke say that the chief priests and the teachers were looking for a way to kill Jesus. They didn’t like the way all the people were being attracted to Jesus.

Luke 19:47: “But the chief Priest and the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.”

If you have clutter in your life, why don’t you ask Jesus to make you clean? Pray along with David, in Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

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