In the Gospel of John Jesus journeys to Jerusalem for the Passover early in his public ministry. This trip occurs shortly after his first miracle of turning water to wine at the wedding feast. IN the other three gospels the purging of the temple occurs closer to his crucifixion. In John this is the first of three Passovers mentioned vs one in the others. In any case we must still ponder the meaning of Jesus’s action upon his arrival at the temple and what it means for us in our own journey of faith.
On the surface Jesus explains his actions when he tells the dove vendors “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16). We can also point to Malichi 3:1 to see that the words of the prophet are being fulfilled, see versus from Malichi below. We can easily relate to the idea of keeping the Lord’s house a place of worship rather than a market. It is a struggle many churches face on a regular basis as they struggle to find a balance between pure worship and the financial needs of our many programs. Are we inviting the wrath of God when we bring our fund raising activities into the church?
I find it interesting that in John 4:23-24 Jesus tells the Samaritan woman “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Do we place too much emphasis on the church building or location, ignoring the spirit of worship that we are called to carry with us in spirit? Do we not find ourselves succumbing to the temptation to buy our way to salvation much as the vendors were selling sacrifices and offerings to the visitors of the temple in Jerusalem?
Having driven the various vendors from the temple courtyards Jesus is confronted by the Jews to justify his actions. SOme commentaries would lead us to believe that the Jewish leaders were profiting from the vendors by charging them for the booth space. Hence their discontent with Jesus. In his customary fashion Jesus gives them an answer that is misinterpreted by the Jews and even the disciples. In verse 19 he tells them that if they destroy this temple he will raise in again in three days. It is only later, after the resurrection that the disciples realize that Jesus was referring to himself and not the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.
In the end we have much to ponder in these verses and as always Jesus challenges us to worship our heavenly Father in spirit daily. To honor him with our body, mind and soul. Is not our body the true temple of Lord.
“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.