Sin Inside The Temple
So the people selling animals in the temple, and the people changing out currency were taking advantage of the situation. If you traveled to Jerusalem for Passover, and you showed up with a sacrificial animal, it had to be without blemish. The priests were the ones who decided if it was acceptable or not. Well guess what, it was usually found to be unacceptable. But, conveniently located right here in the temple we happen to be selling pre-approved animals for sacrifice–for an exorbitant price. And, you have to pay for the animal with the temple currency. We can exchange your cash for our currency, in fact we have money changers right here in the temple standing by, but, it will cost you.
Providing a means of exchanging currency and providing animals for the Passover sacrifice was a good thing, but overcharging wasn’t. It was a sin. It was a sin found right there inside God’s temple. And Jesus, out of love for his Father’s house, turned the tables on those taking advantage of the people. He took action.
The religious leadership of his day asked Jesus: What sign can you show us to demonstrate you have the authority to cleanse the temple like this?
Jesus said: Destroy this temple, and in three days I’ll raise it up.
Can A Temple Contain God?
Everybody thought Jesus was talking about the temple building they were standing in at the time Jesus made that statement. But when Solomon built the original temple he said to God, “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!” (2 Chronicles 6:18) Jesus wasn’t speaking of the building when he said he’d raise the temple in three days, he was speaking of his own body, his own resurrection. As Solomon said, a building can’t contain God, but Jesus can. God was in him. God was inside the temple of Jesus’ body.
And God is inside the temple of your body too. The scriptures tell us plainly, “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own…” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
“You are not your own,” God tells us. You are God’s. You are like that temple in Jerusalem. Jesus called it “my Father’s house.” That’s how it is for you. You belong to your Father in heaven. You’re the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. And here’s the thing: Jesus loved God’s temple in Jerusalem so much that he cleaned it out, and in a similar way, he loves me so much that he’ll clean me out too. And he loves you so much he’ll clean you out also.
What Every Parent Wants
I’ve never met a parent who didn’t want to “clean” their children. Every parent wants that. Believers and unbelievers alike want that for their young kids. Every child rebels, and disobeys, and sins. And every loving father and every loving mother, in love, disciplines their kids to remove the rebellion, disobedience, and sin from their children, because they want their kids to grow and mature and to live their best possible life. For our kids to live their best life they need to grow and mature. For growth and maturation to happen in young children some “cleaning” is sometimes necessary.
After he cleansed the temple we read in our passage that, “many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus… did not entrust himself to them…” (John 2:23-24) If you’re reading this blog post you’re probably not in this category, but many Christians feel similarly toward Jesus as those who chased after the signs. They want salvation, and they want whatever else Jesus can provide for them, but they don’t want to let Jesus inside to clean them out. They want to retain ownership of themselves. They don’t want to surrender themselves to whatever Jesus might have in mind for them. They want total control over their own temple.
But God loves them anyway. And “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6) Sometimes he does a little cleaning–and that’s a good thing.
Embrace it. Give thanks for it.
Surrender yourself to Him completely.
Surrender, because: you are not your own.
(You might also like: Love Like Jesus–God First: John 2:14-15)
[Image via Tom Page – Creative Commons]