Jesus Cleansed the Temple because the Temple must be Pure

 

I’m sure everyone must have read the incident where Jesus cleansed the temple. The Book of John records that Jesus cleansed the temple at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-17) The other gospels note that the Lord did so just before His crucifixion. (Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-46). Most biblical scholars believe that Christ cleansed the temple twice under similar circumstances. From these different bible verses, we see that Christ was angry and frustrated because the House of God was overrun by the stalls selling cattle and sheep and the tables of the moneychangers. So He made a whip out of cords to drive out the cattle and sheep, scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. He made the hawkers remove the doves and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. He declared indignantly, “'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers.”

 

The Lord scolded the Israelites because they carried out commercial activity in the sanctified dwelling of God, a place where the nations were to pray. There could also be present clandestine behaviour of an unscrupulous, unrighteous nature. So the Lord declared it a den of thieves. However, the Israelites and even their religious leaders thought there was nothing wrong with conducting these commercial transactions that seemingly benefited the public in the outer courtyard (where the gentiles worshipped). On the one hand, this showed their disdain for the position of gentile believers. On the other, it also indicated that they slighted the sanctity of God’s dwelling and neglected the purity of the temple. In God’s view, the temple from the inner sanctum to the sanctuary to the priests’ court to the women’s court to the Israelite’s court to the gentile’s court must all be kept clean and consecrated to God for the purposes of prayer and worship. From a human standpoint, the selling of cattle, sheep and doves was for the convenience of worshippers coming from distant locations so that they would not have to bring live offerings from afar. They only had to pay to obtain for their offerings the use of livestock sanctioned by the priests as clean. At the time, the temple tax for men coming to the temple could not be paid by any foreign currencies. Only silver coins made especially by the temple were acceptable (since the purity of silver coins was more reliable). That’s why money-changing tables were established to cater to those coming to worship from all corners of the world. The strange thing is that since the Israelites knew to offer the best and the pure to God, why would they overlook the fact that the House of God must be absolutely clean? They disregarded the outer courtyard area of the temple, thinking that it was acceptable to conduct the above-mentioned commercial activity there. As well, probably because there were many entrances to the outer court, some thought it convenient to bring merchandise through the temple. But the Lord would not allow it (Mark 11:16). All these indicate that the Israelites were not sufficiently respectful of God, not cautious, and were only concerned with human convenience.

 

From a practical point of view, the church (we), having been cleansed by the holy blood of Christ, is totally sanctified for the use of God. We must constantly maintain the purity both within our inner being as well as in our outward actions. Also, when we congregate at the church, we must not bring along the ulterior motives belonging to the world. I have heard that at some other churches, people attend gatherings with the intent to meet more people in order to promote their merchandise for sale. This is abusing the use of God’s House and bringing the world into the church. With regards to the place of worship including every area and everything in it, such as the rooms, the podium, the washrooms, the staircases, the carpets, the tables and chairs, the library books, the hymnals, the storage closets etc., all should be lovingly maintained and kept clean by us because it is the House of the Lord. How can we not respect and cherish it?  Consider that within our own home, we would continuously keep the place clean and replace old with new. How can we maintain a different standard for the House of God? From a different perspective, when fellowship gatherings are concluded, if we join together and conscientiously clean up the venue, put away the hymnals and bibles, stack up the chairs, always put cleanliness of the assembly hall first, and teach our children to follow our lead, it will not just be a comfort to everyone but also a good testimonial to unbelieving guests, for the glory of God.

 

By: Daniel To