Jesus Cleanses the Temple (John 2:12-25)

While the joyful miracle of turning water to wine affirmed the faith of the first disciples, the cleansing of the temple hardened the hearts of the unbelieving majority.

Taken together, these two signs show Jesus’ power to transform ordinary human life to one of abundant joy and his authority to cleanse the religious life that it may be pleasing to God. (See John 2:11, 22-23.)

There is a blatant change of atmosphere between the first half of John 2 and the second half. In Galilee, he was invited to a wedding feast. His commands were obeyed. “We see him as the Son of Man, delighting those in his company with an abundance of his gifts. In the second half of John 2, Jesus is in Jerusalem - the religious center of the Jews. This should have been the place where Jesus was most recognized and desired.” (BSF)

Jewish men were required to attend three ceremonies: the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Tabernacle, and the Passover. John 2 records the first of three Passovers in Jesus’ adult ministry.

God ordained sacrifices possibly for the purpose of helping us understand that Jesus is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” He needs us to understand that sin carries with it a consequence and that consequence is death.

Those who did not come to the Passover with a temple sacrifice could pay a very pretty penny for one. And sometimes, Priests would tell people they had to buy a different animal to sacrifice because theirs was “unfit.”

Also, every man had to pay a temple tax. This temple tax was required to be paid in Sheckels. Another way the priests would profit from the people was to charge an exorbitant exchange rate.


In Verse 15 we see that Jesus made a scourge. He took the time to make a whip. I would assume that the entire time he was making said whip, he was thinking and praying.

Situations, people, things we cannot control, and sin all make us angry. (I recently learned that women are subconsciously angered by fear and men are subconsciously angered by shame.) Take a time out like Jesus did to get a clear head about your anger.

God instills in us a subconscious knowledge of right and wrong, and with that knowledge come the desire to make right all wrongs. Ephesians 4 is a great chapter in the Bible to look to when angered. It helps to clarify where in your anger it is possible to sin.

If you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, you will not sin in your anger.

In response to Jesus’ action, the disciples’ faith was confirmed. These humble men recalled prophesies they were taught in their youth and recognized their Lord and Savior through His actions. (The cleansing was prophesied in Ps 69:9 and Malachi 3:2-4.)

We see in verse 18, however, that the non-believers, piously responded, “Show us a miracle that proves you have the authority to come in here and act this way.” Instead of taking the action itself as a clear indication of who Jesus is, the Priests, Scribes and Pharisees chose to proclaim their own importance and deny Jesus’ divinity.

Vs 19 is considered a “parable” or Biblical metaphor. Jesus would speak in parables to men who chose to deny Jesus’ divinity. Doing this served two purposes:

1. It hopefully caused non-believers to put some mental energy into their religion
2. It unfortunately sends a message of judgment - refusal to respond to Light result in blindness to further Light (Matthew 13:10-15).

In verse 19, Jesus is speaking about His body as the temple. He does actually give Jews a sign of a miracle in his answer - He foretells of his death and resurrection! The non-believers chose to only use this sign against Him by twisting His words into a threat against Herod’s temple (see Matthew 26:61).

Side Note: Herod’s temple was actually destroyed after Jesus’ death. It was as if God no longer wanted the sacrifices and ceremonies that occurred inside those walls. Jesus is the true temple of God.

Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses argue against Jesus’ humanity by saying that when he was raised from the dead, he was not raised as flesh but as Spirit. Here in John, Jesus says he will be raised as flesh. Thomas believed once he touched the flesh. (Some argue that “My Lord, My Savior” was a flippant, “Oh my God!” But Jesus would have rebuked such blasphemy.)

My body is also a temple, because the Holy Spirit dwells in me. (1 Corinthians 6:19) Do you treat your body as though it is the temple of God? Do you realize that the Holy Spirit eats everything you eat? Watches everything you watch? Thinks everything you think?

Verse 24 tells us that Jesus sees our heart’s desires. “Why do you call me Lord and not do things I say?” The Lord looks at the heart - when he looks at yours, what does He see? The Fruits of the Spirit? Or is it full of covetousness? Greed? Vanity? Stubbornness? Complaining?

It is imperative that we look to Jesus as an example of how to live, not other humans.

The cleansing of the Temple reminds us that Jesus came to cleanse us from sin. Have you acknowledged that you need this cleansing? (See Matthew 22:37 for why we need cleansing and 1 John 1:9 for how to get cleansed.)

Feel free to be honest with God. “Lord, I want _______ out of my life so I can draw closer to you.”

Though scourges are difficult, be grateful. God is merciful and gives us endless chances on earth. Once we die, there are no second chances.

Jesus did not kick a bunch of partiers out of a wedding; he kicked a bunch of religious people out of the temple because they were keeping people from God. If that does not break the stereotypes of Jesus, nothing can.

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