Matthew, Mark, and Luke all include accounts of Jesus entering into the Temple in Jerusalem and immediately driving people out and overturning tables. However, while each account is slightly different, one thing remains the same: Jesus drove out those selling in His Father’s house. Jesus was driving out merchants and moneychangers making it difficult for people to enter in and worship God. This was not the first time Jesus cleansed a Temple (see John 2:13-17). It is a little shocking to imagine Jesus knocking over tables and chasing people out of a building. This can seem a little out of place with how we normally view Jesus our Savior. Yet, the Gospel accounts work together to give us better understanding of who Jesus is and why He cleansed the Temple.
In the following verses in Matthew and Luke, Jesus says, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). Jesus is quoting a verse from the Old Testament (Jeremiah 7:11), where the Lord speaks through Jeremiah and says, “Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.” We now know this Temple is God’s House.
Can you imagine leaving your house in the hands of someone you trusted only to return home and find it crowded, trashed, and filled with animals? God considered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem a sanctuary for His people to worship Him but instead, it had become a sanctuary for people’s greed. Pray we would never consider a church building or making money more important than our faith and relationship with God (Isaiah 56:4-7). Let it never be so.
The Gospel authors depict Jesus as angry, but not in the way we typically get angry. This is wholly unlike when someone cuts us off in traffic, eats the last slice of pizza, or how we feel when we’ve been cheated or wronged. Jesus had righteous anger seeing His Father’s House defiled for profit. These merchants were creating barrier between God’s people and worshiping Him. Righteous anger is marked by love and humility; righteous anger is being angry about what makes God Himself angry. As sinners, this is difficult for us to learn. Unlike Jesus, we typically fall into sinful anger. Sinful anger is where we are full of pride, selfish, and not glorifying God. Are you quick to listen or quick to be angry? What are some steps you can take in making your anger more righteous? (James 1:19-21)
Matthew, Mark, and Luke don’t only tell us of Jesus cleansing the temple in Jerusalem but also paint a picture of what the last week of Jesus’s life looks like. Jesus knew that cleansing the temple would upset the religious leaders even more. A few days later, the religious leaders come in the night to arrest Jesus. In His last days, Jesus knew he was walking towards His death but still continued to glorify and honor his Father in heaven. So are we going to be like the selfish merchants, prone to distract others from worshiping? Or are going to be more like Christ and have courage to seek the truth, know God’s heart, and act on it.
If you missed a day in the Holy Week series, read the previous entries here.