Jesus Cleanses the Temple – Don Gentry
Scripture: Matthew 21:12-13 (HCSB)
Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!”
I would have loved to be there when Jesus cleaned house. So many people in today’s culture picture Jesus as this weak, mild mannered, doormat type of guy. How many guys like that do you know can go into the most important place of societal influence and start throwing things around and get away with it?
I am not suggesting that Jesus was a crazy man; however, I am suggesting that we understand the real physical and human strength that Jesus had. His presence commanded respect. That is not done by a “wuss.” That said, we very seldom see him using his physical might. A little side note, the only time we ever see Jesus using harsh words or angry actions it is always directed towards religious leaders or his disciples. In other words it is directed to those who should know better.
Jesus was confronting and addressing the first church scandal of misappropriated funds. He was infuriated by the sin that religious leaders were allowing in the temple. Thousands and thousand of travelers would come from long distances and foreign lands to come to the temple and worship. Some travelers would be poor, some would have only foreign currency, (which was not allowed in the temple treasury), and most travelers would not have been able to bring their animal sacrifice with them so they would have to buy their sacrifice on the spot. To the entrepreneur, this was a prime market.
They then set up money exchange tables and at this time coins weren’t perfectly minted so they had to use scales to weigh the value. The moneychangers used dishonest scales and weights to benefit themselves and they also charged outlandish exchange rates. This was not acceptable. Those who had animals recognized a sellers’ market too. These people could not worship and offer a sacrifice without an animal so they started charging outlandish prices for their birds and animals. Jesus was ticked off and he went “temple” on those that were violating his house.
We also need to understand that this is the second time he has had to “clean house.” John 2 records the first temple cleansing. The people knew better, but they took advantage of the system. Jesus does not like unjust gain and He takes sin very seriously.
Does your view of Jesus allow him to get angry at sin, or more specifically your sin? Does your view of Jesus allow you to understand righteous anger?
I wonder what God sees when he looks down upon His church today? The real issue in this story wasn’t that travelers needed to exchange their currency; it wasn’t that they even needed to buy an animal. The issue was the people’s desire to capitalize and take advantage of another human beings need. This especially makes God angry when church leaders take advantage of this.
We are fortunate to live in a capitalistic country but capitalism is heavily influenced by greed. Many people who call themselves Christians work in environments where greed is often rewarded. Is God honored by this? We need to learn how to conduct business, make money, and not be corrupted by greed and money.
Dear Jesus, thank you for being a savior who displays strength when strength is needed. Convict me of any greed that may exist in my life, or any way that may be unclean in your eyes. Help me to be sensitive to what you view as sin. Forgive me for the times that I have capitalized unjustly on another person’s need. Help me to be aware of the times when I need to be strong and take a stand against sin either in my life or in society. Help me to understand the difference between “anger and righteous anger.” Thank you for helping to guide me in all my ways.