John 2:13-25 (NIV)
Jesus Clears the Temple Courts
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[a]
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.[b] 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
V 12-13 –
Jesus often traveled around, rarely staying in one place very long. This is His second recorded trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. The first took place when He was just a boy. That time Jesus stayed behind when His parents left and spent days talking and debating with the teachers at the temple. At that time He also called it His father’s house. Jesus didn’t just become God or indwelt by God when He began His public ministry. He was always God. His public ministry is just when He chose to reveal Himself to the world as the Messiah. Tell a little about the history of the Passover.
This was the first Passover after Christ’s baptism. The second is mentioned, Luke 6:1. The third, John 6:4. And the fourth, which was that at which he was crucified, John 11:55. From which it appears,
- That our blessed Lord continued his public ministry about three years and a half, according to the prophecy of Daniel, Dan 9:27. And,
- That, having been baptized about the beginning of his thirtieth year, he was crucified precisely in the middle of his thirty-third.
V 14-16 –
When Jesus saw the temple He found that it was turned into a place of business. People were selling the animals for sacrifice. They had money exchange. Quite simply the temple had become a center of business and profit. The people who were doing this had selfish motivations. They obviously didn’t really care about worshipping God or offering sacrifices to God. They were using God as excuse to make money. They were doing the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted them to do when He told them to render to God the things that are God and to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. They were bringing God down to a low and base level. They should have been going there out of service, worship, and altruistic motives. Instead they were going out of greed, selfishness, and evil desire. James 1:27 says that true religion is visiting orphans and widows in their distress and being unstained by the world. Again, they were doing the exact opposite.
IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO TO CHURCH OR FELLOWSHIP EVERY WEEK WITHOUT TRULY WORSHIPPING GOD! Many people have the exact same problem today. Church leaders, evangelists, pastors, and missionaries get on TV, radio, or in front of the church and beg for money. They offer products like prayer cloths, holy water, and even prayer of blessings over any product you send. Scandal after scandal has broken out where these have been proved to be fake. The bad reputation of these evangelist money-grabbers has tarnished the reputation of much of the church. However, this thought process has tinkled down to mass numbers of church-goers. Most of these probably wouldn’t admit to going to church for personal gain, but many do nonetheless. You can see it when people ask what they will get because they follow God. Will they be able to pass their coming exam or having a better job? One guy last week repeatedly asked me what physical benefits we could get from following God. To Him, the spiritual side didn’t count for much if anything at all. So what kinds of reasons to people go to “worship” on Sundays?
Social life – People go to church because that is where their friends are. Hey, churches have lots of nice people that go to them and it is easy to make friends there. There are lots of activities around the week to enjoy during one’s free time. This includes trips to amusement parks, sports games, pizza parties, seafood meals, going to the beach, park parties, etc. This is not to say that any of these things are wrong. One can fellowship in these kinds of settings and make an impact on others for Christ. However, it is all too easy to begin going for the fun, food, or friends. Church is not meant to be a club to meet your friends! Are you going to church to worship God and grow or to be with your friends?
Safe feeling – Many others go to church for the feeling of safety that it provides. It makes them feel they are doing well spiritually. Basically they get their assurance of salvation from going to church rather than from faith in God. In this category can be included people who to church so that they won’t feel guilty. Are you going to church because it makes you feel close to God?
Warm feeling – I’ve invited lots of people to church with me for the first time. After they go to church I often ask them what they thought and what they like about it. The most common answer is that they like it because it makes them feel warm. Even many non-Christians have given this answer! They feel comfortable and peaceful when they go to church. Many continue in this state going to church for years without ever really knowing the gospel and it what it means to truly worship God. Are you going to church because it makes you feel peaceful?
Pressure – Another category go to church because their parents or friends put pressure on them to go. They are the ones who go because they “have to.” Are you going to church because you have to?
Pharisaic – Another very common reason for going to church is that it has become an ingrained ritual. We go because “we have always gone” or it’s “what we do on Sundays”. In a way this is good to set a habit. We should not choose not to go to church because we don’t feel like it on a given Sunday. However, we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of letting church become and impersonal ritual. Are you going to church because that is what you do on Sundays?
Psalms 24:3-4. So what is the solution for us to avoid these church-traps? There is no magic trick. We need to have the right attitude and motivation. If you have been going for the wrong reasons confess and ask God to give you right motivation. When you go to church focus on worshipping. Focus on listening to the sermon and growing spiritually. You can try some new things to make church more fresh and personal. Pray on your own during the prayer times. Think deeply about the words of the songs. Make notes and applications about the sermon. Pray beforehand and afterward that God will teach you in that days service. Discuss what you learned with others. Choose one or two points and practice them during the week. Most importantly, remember to go to church for the right reason and don’t think about what you can get out of it. Confess all selfish motivation. Go to worship, learn, grow, and encourage others. Think about what you can give to God and people, not what you can get. John 4:24
1 Timothy 6:5-6.
Also, if the church you go to is not a place where you can truly worship and grow you should think about finding another church.
Another angle to think about this issue from is what if Jesus came to your church and see you there. Would He be happy with your reasons for going and your activities there? What practices and things might He cleanse from your church?
Jesus saw the greedy and selfish business practices going on at what was supposed to be a center of worship (the world religion during the tribulation will also be tied closely with economy). He made a whip and then drove them out of the temple with it! He overturned the tables where people were exchanging money! Wasn’t Jesus gentle? Wasn’t He like a quiet sheep? What was it that set Him off? Quite simply, He was angry.
It is common for us to think that anger is not sin. But this is not so. There are two kinds of anger. The second kind, the sinful kind, is very common to us so we naturally assume that all anger must be bad. This kind of anger stems from selfishness. Someone does something to us that we deem is unfair so we get angry. Someone gossips about us behind our back and we get angry. Somebody steals money, cheats us, lies to us, takes our seat on the subway, cuts in line, fouls us in sports, etc. and we get angry. In all of these cases this is probably a sinful response. We are upset because someone did something to us. They violated our rights! This kind of anger is sin and we should avoid it.
However, the first kind is a righteous or holy anger. This kind of anger is aroused because of injustice and sin. This is the kind of anger Jesus had. He was angry because people were sinning and violating the temple. See also Isaiah 57:16-17. Ephesians 4:26. In Greek this is actually a command to be angry! We are supposed to get angry when we see sin in the world. If we don’t ever have this kind of anger we have some problems. Probably we are too much like the world. Either we are agree with their sinful practices or are apathetic and indifferent. Do you ever experience righteous anger?
Read Jonah 4.
If you haven’t experienced this kind of righteous anger you should take a deep look at your principles and see if they are biblically based. Study God’s Word and make deep and firm convictions from it. We don’t need to seek out opportunities to show this kind of anger to prove our spirituality. And we should be careful not to be prideful, thinking we are better, or hateful. Yet we should be involved in the world and in people’s lives and not just sit by and watch as others sin without any check. Also, it is much easier to have this anger against other people. Make sure that you are just as merciless against sin in your own life.
Did the Jews take to heart Jesus’ lesson? No! They were right back doing the same thing as we can see when Jesus visited the temple a long time later in Matthew 21:12-13. Jesus did the same thing then too!
The Jews wanted a sign from Jesus. Basically they wanted evidence or proof that Jesus was right and had the authority to do this. People are basically the same today. They want evidence. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. We should seek to know what we believe and to understand that it is reasonable. However, a blind person will never be able to see the evidence clearly. Faith is the most essential aspect.
Jesus told them that the sign would be His resurrection. But He used veiled language and they thought He was talking about the literal temple. As we study John you will see that this routinely caused misunderstandings of Jesus’ message. The people were thinking physical all the time (they thought even the Messiah’s kingdom would be physical) when Jesus taught them numerous spiritual truths. Even His disciples didn’t understand at that time. Let us not restrict ourselves to thinking only on a physical plane.
During this time many people believed in Him. As we will later, many turned away. Their belief was shallow and they were like the rocky soil. Nonetheless there must have been some true converts who persevered. Also, if our belief is only based on a sign that we saw there will come a time when that will be seriously tested because we won’t be seeing a sign.
Jesus knew that humans were sinful and totally depraved. No one could possibly know better than Him. He was coming to earth and giving His life for this very reason. No easy solution, enthusiastic response, or energetic feelings could change this fact. John’s overall focus is on telling us who is Jesus. Here we see that Jesus is independent, not relying on any person. Also more than anyone else, He knows the heart of man.
Likewise we should not put our trust in man or put our lives in their hands. Do not trust unbelievers easily or put yourself at their mercy.
Instead entrust yourself to God. He is the one who is control of everything and holds our soul in His hands. Be dependant on God, not on people.
- Evaluate your motivation for going to church and fellowship. Confess any selfish reasoning. Resolve to go for worship, growth, and the opportunity to encourage others. Be pure and holy in your worship. Make some specific changes that will help to focus on what is important.
- It is OK, even commanded, that we be angry. If we are never angry it means that we are insensitive to sin. First we need to have the right convictions and then when we get angry about sin work to help solve the problem in the right manner.
- Do not put entrust yourselves to man. Man will fail every time. Sometimes they will cheat, mistreat, or lie to us on purpose. Other times they will fail us simply because they are weak and sinful, not out of any maliciousness in their hearts. Be dependent on God, not on people.
- Decide on a specific way to help you worship God and grow more at church. I will take notes on the sermon.
- Do something about a specific sin or injustice that you see going on around you. It might be your colleagues cheating the company, others going to church for the wrong reason, or immorality in someone’s life who is close to you. Or look at your life and root out some sin in your own life. Don’t be indifferent or complacent.
- Examine your life and see if you are dependant on someone. If so confess and take steps to depend on God instead of that person.
Lord Jesus, scripture prophesied that passion for God’s house will consume You drove out the merchants and money changers from the Temple, reminding the people that Your Father’s house was meant for prayer and worship. I learn from You that we can be angry and yet not sin – when we express anger over the violation of Your laws or injustice or sin but that they drive me to do what is honoring You. And I know that this is only possible when I am constantly Spirit-filled as You meant Your followers to be.