John 2:12-25 (ESV)
Jesus Cleanses the Temple
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade." 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."
18 So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?" 19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
Jesus Knows What Is in Man
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
“I can’t believe he did that.” That’s what I was thinking when I heard the shocking announcement.
It happened at the church where I had grown up as a teenager, the one where I was volunteering as part of a leadership team in my college days. After the sermon, the pastor paused and then announced that he was leaving the church in two weeks to take up another call. No one knew it was coming; not the congregation, the staff, or any member of the church leadership. We were all shocked and surprised and the sudden announcement.
That’s a little bit of the feeling we get in this passage. We must remember that the Temple at this time is the beating heart of Jerusalem. It wasn’t just a building. It was the center of everything for the Jewish people. It was their place of worship, of culture, of national celebration and mourning. It was the one place that held the attention of the Jewish people. It was their national identity. It was the place where they went to meet God.
And now this Jesus fellow from Galilee walks in and does this. “Who does He think He is?” That was the question that was on the mind of those who were present and the shockwaves of Jesus’ action and answer to their question would have rolled through the Temple, Jerusalem, and outward.
It’s also a bit of a shock to us as well. This is not the usual picture of Jesus that comes to mind for us. Usually, we think of a patient-loving Jesus who just smiles at us and is glad that we are here. In this passage, the picture of Jesus is one with a whip in hand driving out people from the Temple and overturning tables. This picture of Jesus is one of anger, frustration, and jealousy. The word used here to describe Jesus in this picture is "zeal" and it means a relentless focus on something. However, unlike human jealousy, which is focused inward and only leads to selfishness, zeal is focused outward; it is selflessness.
In the other Gospels, we get a bit more details of this incident. The other Gospels note that Jesus wants the Temple to be what it's supposed to be. Right now, the Temple is filled with corruption. Jesus wants the Temple to fulfill its purpose, to be a place of prayer for all people so that they can connect with God, not a marketplace for the purpose of making a profit.
On top of that, John is giving us some interesting clues for what’s to come. One of them is the foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and resurrection. So, already John has the cross and Easter morning in view as he writes his gospel, and this is only the second chapter!
The thing that hits me most in this passage is Jesus' relentless jealousy for you and me. That's actually God's relentless jealousy for us because Jesus is sent by the Father to us. It’s incredible when we realize that God gave and sent Jesus so that we might be reconciled in our relationship with the Lord (that’s coming up in John 3:16-17).
But what about us? Do we have that relentless jealousy for Jesus and for God the Father?
Or are you more like me and do you just compartmentalize your relationship with Jesus at times?
It's easy to think about Jesus when we go to worship, read the Bible, or are otherwise engaged in some sort of spiritual/church event, but I want to challenge you to cultivate the habit of connecting with Christ in all the things that you do each day.
He is jealous for you—be jealous for Jesus.
God bless you and know that I’m praying for you constantly,