Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Cleansing of the Temple

The Cleansing of the Temple John 2:13-22
(Matt 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46)

2:13-22 And the Jews' passover (Ex 12:14; Deut 16:1; ch 5:1; 6:4; 11:55) was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting (Ex 30:11-16; Lev 5:7; matt 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45): 15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; 16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise (Zech 14:21; Luke 2:49). 17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up (Ps 69:9). 18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us (Matt 12:38; ch 6:30), seeing that thou doest these things? 19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (Matt 24:2; 26:61; 27:40; Mark 13:2; 14:58; 15:29; Luke 21:6; Acts 6:14). 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16; Col 2:9; Heb 8:2). 22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them (Matt 12:6; Luke 24:6-8; ch 14:26); and they believed the scripture (ch 5:39; 12:16; 20:9), and the word which Jesus had said (Rev 21:22).
vv13-22 The cleansing of the Temple. Some suppose there to be an inconsistency between the synoptics and the Fourth Gospel at this point. John places the Temple cleansing at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, while the synoptics place it at the end (Matt 21:12-13//Mark 11:15-17//Luke 19:45-46). Both cleansings occurred during a passover season. Either John has placed it here in order to use the water-to-wine sign as a backdrop for the Temple cleansing (both have to do with purification); or, more likely, there were two cleansings: the first sanctifying the Temple for the ministry of Christ, the second sanctifying it for His sacrifice. Whatever the case, John’s purpose was served. 

v13 Passover. The feast of the Jews that celebrated the night in Egypt that the death angel passed over all the first born of the Hebrews because of the shed blood of the lamb that was applied to the door post of the houses (Ex ch 12). Here, the Evangelist records the first passover of Jesus’ ministry - there were four (see 5:1; 6:4; 11:55). These four passovers give Jesus a ministry of 3 1/2 years. Only John’s Gospel lists each passover, thus, emphasizing Jesus as the Lamb of God (see ch 1:29, 35 and notes). Went up to Jerusalem. Going from Capernaum which on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at approx. 690 ft below sea level to Jerusalem at 2,500 ft above sea level is going up even though He traveled South.  v14 Found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves. The priest were selling animals for sacrifice. A necessary service for urban dwellers who did not keep livestock. But the priest had gone beyond the service to acts of extortion (see Matt 21:13 where Jesus is recorded as calling these people thieves). If a lamb or any other animal was brought to the Temple to be sacrificed the priest would find some impurity in the animal so that the Temple animal would be bought. Further, the money changers were thieves in that they short changed the worshippers when they they brought their Greek and Roman coins to exchange for the Temple shekels - the only coin accepted by the Temple.  v14 He made a scourge. Jesus’ response to this dishonesty of the Temple officials was a whip! Matthew and Mark record that He “overturned the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves” (Matt 21:12). One cannot ignore the implications of this action:  it was punitive. This was force. Jesus would later say “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight” (John 18:36). The Temple was His house. In His house he took part in punitive action against evil (as He had done in Heaven—Rev 12:7ff). The Apostle Paul would later refer to those who enforce the civil law, with weapons that forcefully punish (to the point of taking life), as ministers of God (Rom 13:4ff)v16 My Father’s house. Jesus did not reject the Temple. At age twelve He was found there about His Father’s business. Here, He calls the Temple His Father’s house. It would remain so until the veil is rent (Luke 23:45).  v17 The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. See Ps 69:9 in this regard. To increase the treasury the priests had become thieves. It is never acceptable to do wrong for God’s sake. The end, no matter how noble, does not justify the means.  v18 What sign shewest thou. The leaders of the Temple asked for His credentials. He could have told them of Isaiah 35:4-6, which was His answer to the disciples of John the Baptist (Matt 11:3-5), or He could have quoted Malachi 3:1 “the LORD whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.” But, instead  He spoke of destroying the Temple and rebuilding it in three days. v19 Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews misunderstood, which was understandable since these particular Jews were Sadducees and did not believe in the resurrection (Acts 23:8). The sign: History has produced many who have claimed to be the Savior of the World—Jesus arose from the dead to validate His claim!

Apostolically Speaking
Mar David Ignatius

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