John wrote so that those who read might come to believe in Jesus (John 20:30-31). Miracles, signs, wonders are recorded for this very reason which show Jesus as the Son of God. Yet, close to the beginning of John’s book, we find Jesus in the temple… He is not pleased… He is angry and does some things that quite frankly, if someone today did these things, might land him in jail!
This is “my Father’s house!”, Jesus says. It was of course the temple which Herod had built. The temple of Solomon had long been destroyed. The altar, laver, Holy Place with it’s furniture, the Holy of Holies with the Ark of the Covenant and the Tables of stone, Aaron’s rod that budded… all probably gone when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and Israel was carried into captivity. I am assuming that all they had was replicas at best, but perhaps not. In any case, He still considers the temple His “Father’s house”.
It was just before the Passover, and Jesus along with his mother, brothers and disciples went to Jerusalem. It was here that Jesus saw (I won’t say FOR THE FIRST TIME), but it really got to Him. Keep in mind that Matthew records this seemingly near the end of Jesus’ life (Matthew 21:12-13), and Mark records this just after he cursed the fig tree which had no figs (Mark 11:15-17). (Someone said, “The fig-less tree put him in a bad mood, and when he got to the temple He took out His anger on what had been going on for years.”) (I don’t think so!) Then Luke records this towards the end of Jesus life on earth in Luke 19:45-46. I’ll let someone else discuss the ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ of these accounts… Bottom line is, He was angry.
Just imagine Jesus, (meek, mild, gentle, always reaching out to people, healer, teacher… coming at you with a whip (of sorts) in one hand, turning tables over, with a booming voice saying…. “GET THESE THINGS OUT OF HERE! HOW DARE YOU TURN MY FATHER’S HOUSE INTO A MARKET!” Get OUT!!!
This section of scriptures, commonly called “Jesus cleanses the temple” has much to offer when looking for principles as well as noticing the facts. John seems more interested in TRUTH not just the facts. Matthew, Mark and Luke are more logical and orderly. Chronologically probably more correct than John. John seems to record some events like dad had his library… he just numbered the books and put them up… but John included what he thought would serve the over all purpose of the book itself, “that you might believe”.
We have traditionally believed this was predicted in Malachi 3:1-4 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.”
Jesus still wishes to ‘cleanse the temple’. Not a physical building but certainly the temple which is clearly different as Paul mentions in I Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Now this is not to get rid of coffee or too much fat or the such like… Fact is that when a person is born again of water and Spirit, and the Spirit of God continues to dwell in the Christian (Acts 2:38-39), that the process of being made holy or sanctified begins. It actually lasts for a life time. The one who yields to the Spirit bears more and more of the fruit of the Spirit. Changes are made. Jesus not only wants to OWN YOU, SAVE AND JUSTIFY YOU, He wants to CHANGE YOU. He wants His temple the be cleaned out and replaced with what the Holy Spirit can and does give.
The temple of God is where worship is done (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:18-19) and sacrifices are given. Not sacrifices FOR SINS COMMITTED for sure… but the offering of one’s self (Romans 12:1-2). Much can be said about the ‘temple of God’ which Paul speaks of… but when Jesus came to the physical temple in Jerusalem he saw that it was being used for something much less than what it was intended to be. THE TEMPLE HAD BECOME MORE AND MORE A BUSINESS, generating according to Barclay’s commentary, over 75,000 English Pounds (over $100,000.00 yearly).. Someone may ask if the church is becoming a business. Certainly not what it was intended to be. What is our corporate focus… buildings, budgets, bank accounts or missions, seeking the lost, and growing in grace?
The anger of Jesus was certainly visible as He walked into the temple area, and saw all the money changers, and animals and birds being sold. Hard to imagine Jesus getting angry. However, He is not out of control… He was not guided by His moods, but was in control. His was a life of balance… He did the right thing at the right time. Let’s look at some other passages on the anger of the Lord…
Romans 11:22 “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” Hebrews 10:26 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,
27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” 1 Corinthians 10:5 “Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.
9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes.10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.”
Anger is certainly hard to deal with and Paul warns Christians in Ephesians 4:26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.” One thing we know… Jesus didn’t let the sun go down on his anger nor did he give Satan a foothold in his life. Our problem is we get all out of shape emotionally and do and say things we have to repent of. Anger takes over, “I claim temporary insanity!” Claim what you want but we have a long way to go in dealing with anger. Some think all signs of being upset are bad, while others justify rage by saying, “It’s righteous indignation!” I doubt we really understand this. Simply put, when anger causes one to sin in word or deed or disposition… it’s bad, and it shows a weakness and a place we have to work on. Is there a place for turning over tables and using a whip to drive people out? Sure… where? I’m not sure. (Still working on that one.)
Paul says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).
Surely, there is a need for “standing your ground” and doing the right thing. Jesus saw the problem… people were not able to worship in the temple without being ‘robbed’. His actions and words came straight from the Father! God was really mad. Be warned about making the ‘temple’ of God a place where God cannot be ‘found’ nor ‘worshipped’, and where money and tradition are the ‘mainest’ thing!
Jesus’ anger was seen when God’s house was desecrated. The vital purpose, reverence, respect was gone. This anger may be similar to when a patriotic American sees someone burning the flag.
Jesus’ anger was seen because the sacrifices being offered had become meaningless acts… (cf. Isaiah 1:10-12). The sin was that of “doing things to make one righteous.” (cf. Romans 4).
Jesus’ anger was taking the house of prayer (Mark 11:15-17), and changing it into a den of thieves.
Simply put, Jesus is very concerned about what we do corporately as well as individually… since we are the temple of God. It’s not so much our routine as it is our sincerity and love for God and each other.
(Next: The New Temple (the searchers) (John 2:18-25))