The cleansing of the temple is recorded in all four gospels. It is obviously
seen by the four writers as being a significant event in the life of Jesus.
The gospel of John though, records it as happening at the beginning of
Jesus’ ministry rather than at the end. It is unlikely that the event
happened twice, so why the difference?
Some have claimed that it speaks of Jesus’ humanity. He becomes angry, makes
a whip and has a violent altercation with the traders. John quotes Psalm
69:9 “Zeal for your house will consume me”. A righteous anger that I’m sure
many of us have had at various times and over many different issues. Yet to
see this event as about some man being indignant is to miss a deeper
Jesus is challenging the cultic practices of the temple. The temple had
become a place of commerce rather than a place of prayer. The commerce was
necessary so that people could perform their cultic rites. But the reasons
for the money changers and traders had overtaken the importance of the
temple as the focus of God’s presence in the world.
Jesus says he will destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. He is
referring to his death and resurrection. But he is also referring to his own
role in being the new focus of God in the world. We are now to look to Jesus
as our focus in seeing God. The religious leaders of the day were too
embedded in their thoughts and ways to see the new action of God in their
midst. Even after asking Jesus for proof for his actions they could not see
God at work.
This passage challenges to me to look again at the way we practice our
faith. There is many a heated discussion in churches over the style of
worship services, music, prayer books and ways we are to live. Some see us
to be too liberal. Others too conservative. Whatever your viewpoint we are
called to look to Jesus and respond as he would want us to. It is not about
us and what we want or think. It is about doing what Jesus wants. In doing
it his way we truly do show the glory of God. Surely this is what we are
meant to be doing.