Cleaning House

In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves He said,  “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”  John 2:12-16.

The place where this market was located happened to be in the Court of the Gentiles, an area cordoned off for those converts to Judaism from other nations.  They were not allowed in the Jewish section of the temple by law until the third generation, so the Jewish leaders took advantage of this and exploited their vulnerability.  Jesus considered desecration of even this area as disrespect to God, contrary to popular opinion.  For a long time I didn’t grasp the significance of why He used the quote “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (see Mark 11:17b) until I realized where the leaders set the market for all the sacrifices up.  The very word “gentile” means broadly “nations” so Jesus used Scripture to set the whole temple aside for worship not just the area for the Jews.

Jesus actions protected people’s right to worship in peace.  Another thing I struggled for years to reconcile was Jesus’ violence here because I couldn’t accept violent behavior and peace as coming from the same place.

But it did and does.

Jesus stood up for coming to God in worship with a vehemence few accept today as really in His nature, but John A states it clearly that He drove the marketing strategy out of the temple courts.  The kingdom of heaven could not be, nor would it ever be in Jesus’ view, a marketing ploy, an excuse for the already rich to scrape some more profit off the backs of the poor for the word “sanctuary” is used in many ways but its primary meaning is to protect.

Jesus came to protect not only the Name of God, His Father, butalso the His body—those who believe in Him.  He came to represent the God and creator of all–basically Himself.  Jesus refused to be pacifistic about the worship of God so He made a whip out of ropes and declared war on greedy racketeers who profitted off of people’s desperate need for grace, peace, forgiveness and mercy.

What a futile act of war.  The market was probably set back up and running the very next day or day after that.  What, in heaven’s name, did Jesus accomplish through this futility? 

He made His point.  And sometimes that’s all we can do.

The temple represented Jesus Himself.  What did He say to those who challenged Him? “Destroy this temple…” and John A makes it clear He was speaking of His own body. The leaders were making the worship of God a means to grow wealthy.  Jesus made it clear that’s not what the temple was for at all, so He cleaned it out for one day so that those who came to worship might experience a moment of peace.  Now we know through the teachings of the disciples that we are His body, which begs the question:  What does He say about us as His body through this act of violence?

Jesus won’t put up with anyone poluting His people for long.  There will come a time for cleansing and restoration, and since we are His temple, this means the true worshipers of God will be cleared of stuff that distracts from coming to God.

The leaders wanted blood.  They wanted to know just who this Jesus thought He was, when they were the religious authority here and He a mere Rabbi peasant, born out of wedlock and not even educated by them.

Jesus gave them metaphor as an answer.  They, in all their learning, intelligence and authority, missed His point entirely and took Him literally.  The disciples misunderstood too, though at least they would have come to a different conclusion.  Their experience at Cana showed Jesus able to perform miracles so they had no doubt He could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, still they all missed the point.  Jesus spoke about Himself, His own body.  The true temple, of which the building merely worked as a model, was Jesus’ body, for Revelation says, “I saw no temple in that place (the New Jerusalem) for God and the Lamb are its temple.”

Jesus knew even then how He would die and what that entailed.  He needed to make a point which was:  My body should not be used for profit but rather worship.  I am not to be used to make money or extort from people, I am free to all who come to me in repentence (a word in the Greek which means a “change of mind” or to ” change the direction of one’s view”).

The disciples didn’t understand until for later, for John says, “After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said.  Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.”  Remember the only “Scriptures” in John’s day were the OT law and prophets.  The NT hadn’t been established yet.

The Jews demanded a miraculous sign, but they didn’t get the one they wanted–I think they hoping for Elijah to bring fire down from heaven to prove God the true way to heathen priests.  The people who beleived, however, did get miraculous signs.  Why the disparity here?  Why would the common man get the miracles and the leaders who could have helped Jesus so much in His mission got nothing?

Both parties saw the same miracles because later it says the leaders had Jesus watched constantly to trip Him up.  This says something very important about man’s attitude:  we see and believe exactly what we want to see and believe.  If something doesn’t fit our preference, we will ignore it and find ways around it.  I’ve done it for years and when confronted, sidestepped the issues.  Truth, however, won’t let us sidestep it without some form of spiritual fragmentation bordering on insanity happening.

When we trust in human reasoning, values and agendas, we lose sight of the real and vital.  When give ourselves over to the temporary goals of the world around us, no amount of explaining the Word Made Flesh will bring comprehension to a mind darkened in this way.  So the last two verses have become a point of growth for me:

But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in man.  John 2:24, 25.

I tend to trust man’s view a little too much.  Proverbs says, Fear of man will prove to be a snare… We cannot use man’s reasoning to get to God because man’s reasoning extracts God from daily life and viewpoint.  We must seek this same quality Jesus displayed by letting go of man’s opinion whether positive or negative in order to understand the truth about ourselves and the world around us through the filter of the Word of God.

Jesus didn’t trust man’s opinion about Him in His mission.  Just because people believed in Him didn’t mean they had it right.  A person can believe in God in a loose way but still reject everything God stands for, it’s just not enough to believe God exists.  James addresses this by saying, Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.  Belief about something is not enough we must take that belief into our daily life and let it change us.  We cannot and do not change God for He must change us.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  God even says, “I am the LORD and I don’t change!”   Even sincere, intense or devout belief isn’t enough always, for a person can be intense about believing lies, devout to their own agenda, sincere about complete nonsense.

We conform to Him not He to us.  He doesn’t need out simple, distorted views about Him to be what He will be anyway–God.  Jesus is the savior of the world whether people believe it or not; accept it or not; conform to it or not.  We can be part of the testimony or party to those who try to destroy it or shape it to what they want it to be.

The leaders of Israel crucified the Son of God because He wouldn’t play their game or conform to their way of being religious.  They hated God in Jesus because He showed them how very shallow their view of life was and how lost they were without God’s way.

A few years ago I came to a decision, after a long time of wandering around the philosophical landscape:  Jesus is right. 

Human beings might have elements of truth, a form of godliness, be good hearted, generous, kind, gentle and host of other attributes that make people great, but without Jesus, they really had nothing but a temporary life.  God still might choose to save them in the end–and I believe many will be–but their life down here would lack the wholeness Jesus promised those who truly believe in Him and acted on it.  We can’t trust their viewpoints on things eternal because everything they tell us leads us to profit in merely the here and now.  We enter eternity the moment we accept Christ as Savior and Lord over our lives.  Everything we do must conform to this eternal thinking.  Our temporary choices must be made in light of living with Jesus for ever after.  Nothing comes close to this viewpoint in importance, but everything we do in our daily life reflects it and is affected by it.

I have never seen anyone love another human more deeply being than a person who leaves all for Jesus.

Jesus didn’t need man to tell Him who He was, justify His mission or character because He already knew the truth and it set Him free from the opinions and wishy-washy views of public scrutiny.  To conform to Christ we must follow Him here where the world–even the religious world–gains no hold over us.  Only Jesus holds us in His arms of love, protection and the armor of the Spirit.

Man’s opinion without conformity to God, is an exercise in futility.  Because of this, I must admit I am not really interested in living a meaningless life or continue stuck in futile thinking or living.

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2 Responses to “Cleaning House”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I’ve always seen this as God’s jealousy for us. Not in the way we think of jealousy as wanting what someone has, but jealousy as in protection of us and our heart. I’ve always seen this passage, and this will seem weird but it’s my visual, not as a violent Jesus but as a mother bear, protecting her cubs. I know that doesn’t make sense and I am rambling…..

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    No, it makes perfect sense. That’s kind of what I was going for anyway, not violence for the wanton excess of it but for the protection of what is good.

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