Many people like to hear about God’s love, but they aren’t interested in hearing about God’s anger with sin and wrongdoing. Today’s reading reveals that side of God. Jesus was obviously very angry about what was taking place in the Temple, and He reacted furiously.
What was Jesus so mad about? Of course, there’s nothing sinful about buying or selling animals or exchanging money. Jesus was angry over the fact that the Temple in Jerusalem, a sacred place where His Father was supposed to be honored and worshipped, had been turned into a marketplace. The Temple was the place where the priests offered sacrifices to the Lord, and in the innermost part of the Temple, called “The Holy of Holies,” God’s presence resided. But in Jesus’ day, the people around the Temple weren’t focused on God or serving the people who came to worship God, but on making money. Not only that, but they were taking advantage of people who came from far away places to worship at the Temple, charging them very high prices to purchase animals and exchange their foreign currency. In another Gospel, the writer records Jesus saying to the merchants at the Temple, “‘My Temple will be called a place of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves ” (Matthew 21:13, emphasis added). There was dishonesty in their dealings, and God doesn’t like that, as Jesus so clearly revealed.
What we’ve read today contains a lot of proof that Jesus was the Messiah and was God in the form of a human being. First, we learned that a verse in the Old Testament book of Psalms foretold that the Messiah would have very strong emotions about God’s house, or Temple. That same Psalm also predicted that the Messiah would be given sour wine to quench His thirst, just as Jesus was when He hung on the cross (see Psalm 69:21 and Matthew 27:34, 48).
Second, if Jesus wasn’t God, then He had no right to chase out the oxen and sheep or overturn the tables of the moneychangers, spilling their money all over the ground. Any person who was not God and who did such a thing would be guilty of not showing respect for the private property of other people. God created everything and owns everything, so everyone and his property belongs to Him! He can do what He wants with anyone’s property, and Jesus, being God, knew He had that right.
Some of the Jewish leaders thought Jesus had no right to do what He did, and they asked Him to justify His actions. He responded by telling them about His resurrection, although they didn’t understand what He was talking about. This is a third proof to us that Jesus was God. Not only did He come back to life after being dead for three days, He predicted it would happen three years before it did!
Q. Jesus told the Jewish leaders who questioned Him, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). He was speaking of the temple of His body, but His listeners thought He was speaking about the Jerusalem Temple building. How was Jesus’ body even more of God’s temple than the Jerusalem Temple?
A. Because Jesus was actually God in the form of a human being, His body was much more a temple of God than the Temple building, which only contained God’s presence in the innermost parts.
Q. In the final verses of today’s reading, we read that Jesus didn’t trust everyone who said they believed in Him. Why didn’t He?
A. Because Jesus knew that people are often liars, and just because someone says he believes in Jesus doesn’t prove he actually does. A person’s actions speak louder than his words, and so the true proof that someone believes in Jesus is his obedience to the Lord.
Application: Because Jesus has come into our temples, and because we are now temples of God, we should keep our temple clean from sin and anything that is not pleasing to Jesus.
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