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John 2 :13 - 17, Why did Jesus clear Herod's Temple?

Updated on February 18, 2014

John 2:13 – 17 –“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

If there was one thing we Jews had to be proud of, it was our temple. It was actually something Herod did for us that we approved of. Of course his motives were selfish. He wanted to achieve immortality through his building projects and they were all magnificent. Our Jewish temple was to be his masterpiece. It was huge; the top of Mt. Moriah actually had to be enlarged to accommodate all the renovations. Everything was done according to the law’s requirements in order to keep it a pure place of worship. But most of all, its beauty was breathtaking. Set on the mountain top and made of pure white marble, it could be seen glistening in the sun for miles around. Although the main part of the temple stayed true to the dimensions laid out by King Solomon, it was now surrounded by a much larger court of the Gentiles. This spacious area was to be set aside as a place where those who weren’t Jewish could come and worship the one true God. The total complex covered almost 35 acres. It was breathtaking!

It seemed a shame to waste such a lovely wide open space on the Gentiles. We really didn’t want them worshiping with us anyway. After all, we were the Chosen people of God. Most Jews of our day considered the Gentiles to be the scum of the earth. Great effort was made by many to avoid any contact with them at all. Anyone who touched a gentile defiled themselves. It required a lot of ritual cleaning to become pure again. Why would we want them contaminating our beautiful, pure temple? Our religious leaders quickly came up with a better use for the Gentile courts. Three times a year, all the Jewish males were required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple here in Jerusalem for a celebration. Each celebration required sacrifices to be made. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that a lot of money could be made by selling sheep, cattle and doves for those sacrifices and following feasts. After all, not everyone was a shepherd with sheep readily available. For those who traveled a great distance, it would be difficult to bring their animals on the journey. Even if they did bring their own sacrifice, it could easily be pronounced unworthy so a new, approved animal would have to be purchased. (Then theirs could then be sold as approved to someone else) Normally, these transactions would have been found in a nearby stockyard. But the convenience of having the sacrifices available right here at the temple, gave the priests a monopoly on the business.

That wasn’t the only enterprise going on in our new Temple courts. The religious leaders also realized that if they only accepted one kind of currency at the Temple, they could make a tidy little profit exchanging money for all the foreigners that descended on the city. Of course, people grumbled and complained, but there was nothing we could do about it.

Then Jesus showed up. No one really knew who he was at that time. There were whisperings about him being the Messiah. Some remembered him from his baptism in the Jordan. But no one was prepared for what he did in the Temple that day. The intense emotion he displayed over our use of the Gentiles place of prayer and worship was stunning. He didn’t hurt anyone or anything, but he sure did cause an uproar.

The religious leaders weren’t very happy, neither were the merchants. But I went home a different person that day. He made me think of my own attitude towards the Gentiles. Maybe we shouldn’t have segregated ourselves so completely. If we represented God to them, what kind of reputation did we give Him? I decided to pay more attention to this man Jesus, and see what else he had to say. With that decision, my life began to change.

Thank you for reading, to see what happens next please continue with my hub on the Pharisees questioning Jesus' authority to clear the temple.


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