Devotion In Motion
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business.” The Jewish hierarchy had turned the temple into a Target. A worshipper could only sacrifice a priestly-approved lamb… and these lambs were only available from Temple-sanctioned outlets where the sacrifices were sold at exorbitant prices. Kickbacks went to the priests. It was a scam, as was the Temple tax…
When you gave your offering the priest wouldn’t accept Roman or Gentile coins. They first had to be exchanged for Temple tokens. And of course, his was done for a fee, at an outrageous exchange rate. Sadly the leaders of the Temple were making a buck off God. And how did Jesus react to their antics? “When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. I used to think Jesus just got caught up in the moment. He reached for whatever happened to be within reach. It could’ve been a broom or stick – it just happened to be a whip. But that’s not what went down.
Notice John’s wording, He “made a whip of cords.” I picture Jesus crouched in the corner of the Temple. His eyes are on these crooked priests… He’s watching as He’s weaving… His blood is boiling! His hands are clinching. Hot molten rage is bubbling up within Him. Jesus is angry. He knows He’s about to go ballistic. This is going to turn ugly… We need to realize, Jesus cleansed the Jewish Temple in a premeditated act of aggression.
So much for “gentle Jesus meek and mild.” Folks like to see Jesus as a Mr. Rogers. Here he’s more like Conor McGregor. Jesus wasn’t afraid to get violent when necessary. He tosses the crooks out on their ears. Jesus was a carpenter by trade. He worked with his hands. He had a grip and strong forearms. He was a man’s man. His contemporaries would’ve never referred to Jesus as just a “nice, well-mannered guy.” “Nice guys” don’t pick up whips and go on slashing rampages. People who upset the status quo aren’t usually referred to as “nice.”
They’re called by other terms, like bother, pest, meddler, agitator – but not “nice guy.” The Jewish hierarchy labeled Jesus a troublemaker. In one sense, that’s what ended up getting Him killed. Jesus was bold, daring, and manly. He lived in the moment and did the righteous thing at the right time. Hey, Jesus was the straw that stirred the drink. Verse 16 “And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” These so-called prophets were only concerned about monetary profits. And it’s equally sad to go into a church today, and the constant preoccupation is all about money…
Realize, what made the Temple racket so disgusting to Jesus was not just what was happening, but where it was occurring… in the Court of the Gentiles. If you were a Roman or a foreigner this was as deep into the Temple as you could go. This meant your one exposure to God was more greediness than godliness. I think today the media – internet, TV, radio – are the equivalent of the Court of the Gentiles. It’s as far as some folks look into the things of God. It’s shameful that some ministries portray God as broke and greedy. Remember ” where God Guides he provides, where he leads he feeds” If Jesus came to our churches today I’m sure He’d again be brandishing His whip. He would whip the church into shape.
Again, He’d cleanse the Temple. In the aftermath of this cleansing, verse 17 tells us, “His disciples remembered that it was written (the quote is of Psalm 69:9), “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” The psalmist predicted Messiah’s zeal. Jesus was passionate about the worship of God. He was consumed with zeal for pure and sincere worship. “So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Jesus had just cleansed the Temple. I assume He’s still standing in the hallways of this colossal structure as He utters these words.
Herod’s Temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world…. This was a stunning statement… “Then the Jews said, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” The first Temple was demolished by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The second Temple was rebuilt seventy years later by the Jews who returned from Babylon. In the beginning, the Second Temple was nothing like the former. It was a shack in comparison to the glory and grandeur of Solomon’s Temple. so, when Herod came to power in 40 BC he appeased the Jews with a massive Temple expansion and renovation. Construction on the Temple had been going on for 46 years.
Now Jesus says His sign to the people is to tear down God’s Temple and raise it up in three days? The Jews listening to Jesus were scratching their heads only because they didn’t have the right Temple. John explains in verse 21, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” The sign Jesus would give the Jews was His death and bodily resurrection. The Temple was God’s residence on Earth, but if the Jews had been perceptive, they would’ve realized God had never revealed His presence in Herod’s Temple. He was waiting on another Temple – a new Temple. The active Temple at the time was Jesus. This is where God’s presence rested – in flesh and blood, not brick and mortar.
So, Jesus’ resurrection was the ultimate sign to Israel. The disciples remembered this truth later… Verse 22 tells us, “Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”
Notice these intriguing words, Jesus “didn’t commit Himself to them.” At the time lots of people followed Jesus, but for the wrong reasons. And Jesus had no confidence in their affections and loyalties. So, He kept the crowds at arms distance. They were after miracles not a Messiah… Hey, it’s one thing to say you’re committed to Jesus, but the relationship isn’t real until Jesus commits Himself to you.
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