[John 2:13-25] – The Temple Story
Some people have used this as a debate for not selling anything inside the church, but most of us may have missed the main point here. When we read the bible only on the surface level, we are prone to make conclusions on our own and draw few superficial applications. Let us not try to master the Word, but let the Word master us, that is – with its own context, history and the person of Jesus Christ.
The temple has the ark of covenant in the innermost building, and outer places for the Jews and the temple courts for the Gentiles. Thus, the temple courts are the closest location that the Gentiles could enter and worship God. The money had to be exchanged because different coins were used for offering. When people come to Jerusalem for Passover, they have to bring sacrifices, and it was convenient to have the animals there already. The temple that Solomon built was destroyed by the Babylonians, and this Second Temple was built again starting in about 20 B.C., and it was not completed again until 63 A.D., thus it has taken about 46 years of under construction by the time Jesus was there (it was destroyed again by the Romans at 70 A.D. just as Jesus predicted).
vv. 13-16 Although some believed that this could be the same as what the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19) talk about Jesus cleansing the temple, the scholars have reasons to believe that Jesus visited the temple twice two passover apart. That’s why John would have this story at the beginning of His Gospel. Aside from the obvious facts that it makes Jesus angry about the greedy people making, we can see that it is because the place has not a worship place. The intention of building this marvelous temple was for the other nations (Gentiles) to come and worship God too, but having the market at the temple courts prevent people from worshiping God. We all should think in our lives if any ways what we do prevent others from seeing and worshiping God with their whole hearts.
God asked the people to bring the sacrifices at the passover, but Exodus, God is telling them to bring their own sacrificial lambs, and we can all agree that it is much more convenient for us to just travel to buy the lamb and offer it God. Not that it explicitly says in this verse, but what is our worship to God look like? Do we worship God only when it is convenient and easy for us? It is not just about Sunday worship, but in our everyday lives. Are we only willing to offer God the cheap before-I-eat-and-sleep-prayers, only-if-i-don’t-have-a-lot-of-homework bible reading, i-will-love-these-neighbors-if-they-are-lovable, and i-will-go-to-church-only-if-someone-pick-me-up? We have so much to think here.
Worship without sacrifice is not a worship at all. Because real worship to God is costly. To worship the God who has given us everything, how are our hearts like?
vv. 17-22 It was Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s house that He did this. Jesus was not sinning here, let us not even try to make an excuse that Jesus seemed to be angry here and we have the right to be angry at some times too. All of Jesus’ actions are from His holiness, His love for the Father, and His love for us — no mix of sins. We cannot compare ourselves to the Holy God like Jesus Himself. v. 19, Jesus is talking about His body as the temple, the better Temple that is coming. Through this new temple, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and we are free to worship God wherever we are, not just in Jerusalem. Praise be to Him! Just as the new wine is better than the old wine (John 2:1-11), the new resurrected temple (Ephesians 1:20-23) is much better than the old man-made temple.
vv. 23-25 In John’s language, Jesus performed ‘signs’ because there are significant meanings behind them. “Jesus would not entrust Himself to the people because He knew all men” here talks about how God knows all about the humanity, that is sinful. Jesus knows our hearts and minds everything, and that is why he had to die to defeat, so that we may have a new life. Anything is, as Christians, what should our attitudes should be? Would you want Jesus to entrust you with his missions and ministry? Would you like God to say, “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21) with every breathe that you take? If we cannot be faithful with the small tasks in our everyday, how do we suppose that God will give us bigger tasks for His kingdom?