Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Jesus and the Temple

In John 2:12-25 we have recorded two statements of Jesus that involved the temple in Jerusalem. The two sentences are very different, but both teach important lessons to us, His disciples.

“DO NOT MAKE MY FATHER’S HOUSE A HOUSE OF MERCHANDISE!” (VS. 16).

It is believed that secular pursuits were commonly seen in the court of the Gentiles, the outermost part of the temple complex. The part of that court located south of the temple proper was a very large area. There, Jesus found some selling livestock, and others changing money.

Both of these seemed to be logical. When Jews traveled to Jerusalem there would be a need to change their currency to that used locally at Jerusalem, and many would have need of livestock to offer as sacrifices during their worship to God. It is reasonable to assume that these business men appealed to such practicality as “authority” for their practices; and the merchandising seems to have become so ubiquitous as to have been generally accepted by the Jews.

But, a practice seeming right to men, and the ability even to make the appeal of “doing it in the name of the Lord,” does not make it right! What these men did was not authorized by God, violated the principle of sanctification, and was rightfully condemned by our Lord.

Jesus made a whip, and drove them out, saying to them, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”

The temple had been set apart by God for a holy purpose. It had been sanctified. The Jew understood this, and respected the various limitations that had been placed upon him. The Gentiles were not allowed in the inner courts, and only the priests were allowed in the temple proper, as they performed their duties. The holiest place was visited only once a year by the high priest as a sacrifice of atonement was offered.

And yet, they allowed this dichotomy. Men are eminently capable of rationalizing their actions to the point where even obvious violations of scripture are championed “in the name of the Lord.” As Christians, we need to consider this as we contemplate the need for reverence and respect in approaching God to worship Him. Casual demeanor, secular interests and business dealings have no place in the adoration we offer to God.

“DESTROY THIS TEMPLE, AND IN THREE DAYS I WILL RAISE IT UP” (VS. 19).

Jesus’ act of cleansing the temple of the merchandisers was audacious. The Jews demanded a “sign” to indicate His authority for His actions. He did not immediately satisfy them with His response, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He did, however, pique their curiosity.

How could Jesus rebuild the great edifice that was Herod’s temple? Work had been done for 46 years on it, and the Jews in their ignorance considered Jesus’ claim to be absurd. Of course, it would have been a small thing for Jesus to rebuild a structure of stone and mortar in such a small amount of time. What was greater was the accomplishment of His resurrection from the dead. As He prophesied here, at the very beginning of His public ministry, on the third day following His death He was resurrected. He predicted from the very beginning that their attempts to destroy Him would see failure. The fulfillment of that prophecy forms the basis of our Hope! “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

It is interesting that while Jesus predicted His sacrificial death (and resurrection) from the beginning of His ministry, no one understood Him. Even His own disciples grieved His death as a defeat with commensurate loss of hope. Verse 22 shows us that it was not until His resurrection that the “disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”

Men never quite understood Jesus’ mission on earth until His work was finished. However, Jesus knew full well what He faced, and yet willingly made Himself “… of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of man” (Philippians 2:7). Such love for man is glorious. As we reap the benefit of His magnanimous gift, we rejoice and must give thanks.