Jesus is back in town today. We got to eavesdrop on Him while He was on the way back during the fig tree incident. Now He is going to deal with the “highway robbery” going on in the temple.
As near as I can tell, Jesus does His cleaning of the temple right after getting into town. This is a perfect opportunity for Jesus to externalize some of the stress He is undoubtable experiencing. He is down to days left before His ultimate sacrifice. He has several jobs to do before that though. Today’s job is cleaning up the temple, at least for now. I wonder if His actions impacted how business was conducted the rest of the week.
I’m actually repeating information from the blog entry on Matthew’s telling of this event, but there is no other way to communicate why Jesus had to clean the temple. You all probably already know what was going on from stories you were told at one time or another, but just in case, I’m going to point out what was really going on there.
Passover festival time was good for business in Jerusalem. Merchants and money changers couldn’t wait to set up shop in the outer court and the streets leading to the temple. People came from hundreds of miles around for this yearly occurrence. This was the one holiday that EVERYONE wanted to celebrate in Jerusalem, if at all possible. This was the season celebrating God’s deliverance of Israel out of slavery to Egypt. This was the time for the yearly sacrifice to be made at the temple in Jerusalem.
Those living nearby brought their sacrificial animals. Those traveling from a great distance brought money to buy theirs. Every animal used in the sacrifice had to meet certain requirements to be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. The merchants in the temple “specialized” in having the best and most perfect animals available for the sacrifice. And of course, the animals brought in didn’t meet the rigorous standards. So ALL were forced to purchase from the merchants at inflated rates.
The money brought by those who had to travel far didn’t go very far. Here again, the “pilgrim” was required to surrender theirs and purchase from the money changers what was “acceptable” for use in the temple. The person would have to exchange their funds for sanctified temple currency. The exchange rates were never in the ordinary citizen’s favor.
Jesus rightly saw this as robbery. And He was not going to stand for it happening in His Father’s house. The temple was supposed to house the presence of God. Jesus didn’t politely ask the merchants and money changers to stop their deceptive practices. He didn’t try to strike a better deal with them. Instead, He very deliberately ran them out of the temple. He made a whip and literally drove the merchants and money changers out of the temple. He scattered the animals, overturned the tables, and scattered the money.
Jesus went further that just disrupting business for a little while. He stayed in the temple all day that day and wouldn’t even let people carry things through the temple. He insisted on a right attitude from everyone who came into the temple that day. He stayed in the temple all day teaching and healing all who came to Him. Jesus would continue this same presence whenever He was in town. I have a feeling that He was there every day, but our bible doesn’t tell us what happened on one particular day that week.
After Jesus’ behavior, the Pharisees are more convinced than ever that Jesus HAS to go! This is when they pull out all the stops and truly work on their plans to kill Him. They were ripe and ready to accept Judas’ upcoming proposal.
Father God, You provided the perfect opportunity for Jesus to correctly release some of His pent up stress. It would have been better to not have had this group fleecing the people, but they gave Jesus perfect teaching material and provided an acceptable outlet for his bubbling stress. I need to find the good outlets myself. My pent up stress usually winds up hurting me or others close to me. Help me become more like Jesus. He saw the situation for what it was, corrected it, monitored it to ensure the corrective measures held, and ministered to the people. That last one was a MAJOR miracle. Jesus didn’t get snippy or yell at whoever He came across. He ministered to the people with love. THAT was the main miracle for that day.