Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Musings on John Chapter Two: VIII

“The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make My Fathers house a house of trade.”

Jesus brackets His ministry with cleaning out the temple, both times at Passover (see Luke 19:45; Mark 11:15; Matthew 21:12). As a twelve-year old boy, in the temple at Passover He tells his parents, “Don’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business?” There is an association with the temple, Passover, and Jesus being about His Father’s business, to the point where as an adult it is twice recorded that He went into action in response to business occurring in the temple that was decidedly not His Father’s business.

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke Jesus says to temple merchandisers that they’ve made the temple a den of robbers; in John, during His first cleaning out of the temple, Jesus warns, “…do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

Why did each evangelist record a cleansing of the temple? The synoptic writers include this in the account of Holy Week; John chooses to record a cleansing that occurred at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. There are not many pericopes that Matthew, Mark, and Luke each record, but this is one of them. Apart from the chronology, John records a similar event – so all four Gospel writers record a cleansing of the temple – other than the Betrayal, Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the feeding of a multitude, I can’t think right now of any other events that all four evangelists each record – they must have thought the issue of making the temple a house of trade important as they wrote through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Consider Jesus’ teaching about no man being able to serve two masters (Matthew 6:19 – 24), that no one can serve God and money. This teaching is introduced at the beginning of His ministry in the Sermon on the Mount.[1] So at the beginning of Christ’s ministry He warns against trying to serve God and money and then He makes a statement through action that the Father’s business is not the business of money.

Perhaps we are too quick to judge those He threw out of the temple. Do you think they thought they were doing anything wrong? Do you think they understood why Jesus was driving them out of the temple? Were they that different from us?

[1] Also consider the place that the Letter of James gives to the issue of money; he speaks both to the church and to the world. Is it a coincidence that James mirrors Matthew in many respects? It is a coincidence that James was the Lord’s brother?


  1. Not really germane to your topic, but because I recently preached on this I noticed that all four gospels record both Peter's denial and Judas' betrayal.

    Well, maybe it is germane, because each of these men's hearts were not fully captivated by the King and his Kingdom, a problem shared by the Pharisees and temple leaders.

  2. Oh thank you Michael for mentioning Peter and Judas, I missed that. And your comment about hearts being captivated by the King and His Kingdom goes along with the post I just wrote for May 11.