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Ministry of Jesus

Jesus Clears the Temple

Scripture

John 2:12-25

Similar Passage

Jesus at the Temple

Commentary

Numerous commentators lump this story with those of the other gospel accounts of Jesus clearing the temple because the events are very similar.  In fact, Jesus cleared the temple twice, this time at the beginning of His ministry and once again at the end.

Jesus is not concerned strictly about the buying and selling occurring in the temple.  This is part of the issue but not all of it.  As people arrived for the Passover feast, they were to bring a sacrifice.  The buying and selling in the temple provided a way for those traveling to not have to bring a lamb with them on their journey but instead buy one when they arrived. 

The biggest problem with the buying and selling in the temple was that it was a monopoly.  Those who wanted to buy a lamb paid an exorbitant price for one.  Even worse, the system was corrupt.  Some of those who brought their own lambs were told that they were not unblemished as was required by the law and were forced to buy one from the temple.

Perhaps even worse than the buying and selling was the money exchanging.  The temple tax was set hundreds of years before.  It was to be one coin, a small amount able to be paid for by even the poorest of individuals.  It pointed to the nature of Christ's sacrifice.  It was the same price for every person and was available for all.  The rich couldn't buy more nor earn favor with God because of their money.

The problem was that the coin that the temple tax was to be paid with no longer existed.  The monetary system had changed in the centuries since it was established.  But the temple tax was still required to be paid with temple money.  So the people had to exchange their money for temple money.  And just as today, there was an exchange rate.  The problem was, once again, the monopoly that the temple had.  They charged an exorbitant tax because people had to pay in temple currency and there was nowhere else that they could go for it.  What was meant to be accessible for everyone was suddenly too expensive for money people because of the exchange rate.  It made a mockery of what was meant to be representative of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

As Jesus drove the corrupt people from the temple, the disciples recalled prophecy concerning the Messiah.  When Jesus gave them a sign "destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days," no one understood.  But as John frequently does, he adds in personal commentary that the disciples would later understand what Jesus meant.

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