Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 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. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 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. (ESV) John 2:13-22
Have you ever had a deja-vu moment? Perhaps you visited a unique place, savored a familiar food, heard a favorite song from the past, or walked a well worn path from days gone by. Suddenly, your mind is filled with a thought that starts something like this, “This reminds me of that time when…”. Do you wonder if Jesus, as he now walks up to the holy city, was reminded of the Passover in Jerusalem back when he was 12 years old? (Luke 2:41-52) Much has changed in Jesus’ life and in the city of Jerusalem since then. Instead of learning and asking questions in the temple as he did some 18 years ago, the Lord Jesus approaches God’s temple and what he does next serves as a clarifying moment in his ministry and for us as his disciples.
Jesus enters a bustling Jerusalem, along with thousands of devoted Jewish pilgrims from near and far coming to the temple to offer sacrifices. The reason for this pilgrimage is that the Jewish people were commanded by God to observe the Passover every year. (see Deut 16:1-6). The nationwide observance commemorated God’s passing over the firstborn of every Jewish household, on the same night that God judged the defiant Pharoah by taking every firstborn Egyptian child. This miraculous sparing of God’s people and deliverance from slavery was a defining moment of God’s power, love, and faithfulness toward His people. Such an event called for an annual God-focused worship celebration in Jerusalem. Instead, Jesus steps into a circus-like scene where God’s people are shamelessly profiting under the pretense of worship!
The sacred temple had been transformed into a marketplace where disadvantaged pilgrims exchanged money to buy their required sacrifices. Rather than setting up shop in a separate market area, the greedy, opportunistic vendors were conveniently racking up sales right there within the walls of God’s temple. This arrangement involved so much noisy buying, selling, and personal profiting that one would not even recognize the temple as a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). To this insult of God’s character and reputation, Jesus boldly confronts the people and commands their attention with a head-turning rebuke.
In a striking display of heavenly authority, Jesus hastily weaves a whip of chords and cleans house; turning over tables, throwing money on the floor, and driving out all of the animals and their vendors. So awed by this abrupt going-out-of-business clearance, the people ask Jesus “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” What they were really asking is, “How do we know that you have authority over the temple?” Jesus’ answer puzzles the crowd, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Jesus is saying that his coming death and resurrection are the signs that confirm his authority in heaven and on earth. After Jesus’ resurrection, his disciples remembered what Jesus said and they believed. The temple structure which served as the dwelling place of God since Abraham was replaced by a bodily one through the death and resurrection of Christ. You may ask, since Jesus returned to heaven, where is the temple now? The answer is closer than you may think.
All people who sincerely repent of sin and trust Jesus by faith for their salvation now serve as the temple of God! Paul explains this life changing reality to the church in Corinth, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?…For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (ESV) 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Child of God, what an awesome privilege that your body is the very temple of the Holy Spirit. When we come together for worship and serve alongside God’s people, we form the body of Christ on earth.
If Jesus returned today, would he find you using your bodily temple to bring him glory in the body of Christ? Or, have your daily rhythms become crowded over the years with worldly affections to the extent that your life no longer resembles a place of worship? If so, allow the grace and mercy of Jesus to cleanse you through humble repentance. Like the disciples, believe in the power of the gospel of Jesus to cleanse every room and restore the sweet fellowship of when you first believed.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord Jesus, I am awed that your death and resurrection made a way for me to serve as a Spirit filled temple of God. Please forgive me for the ways that I allow the world to fill my life and distract me from the true worship that you deserve. Clean my life of every evil thing that misuses your temple and transform me into a blessing for all people and a conduit for your gospel. Open doors for me to share the good news so that people near and far may find rest for their weary souls in you. In Jesus name, Amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.