Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Rev. Henry Martin /

I think it’s fair to say, that it took a lot to make Jesus cross.

But when he entered the temple at the time of the Passover festival, he became really, really angry, because he found people selling cattle and doves, and money-changes seated at their tables – all in his father’s house.

He was so incensed that he drove the sheep and cattle out of the temple with a whip.

Then he shouted out;  My father’s house shall be called a house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.

He then shoved all the coins on the money changer’s table off onto the floor and turned their tables over and upsidedown. 

And everyone was astonished.………..

What Jesus wanted, was for all those misusing the temple at the time to stop and notice what he was saying.

He wanted them to understand that it was a holy place where God’s people came to worship Him. Not a cattle market.

Because regarding the temple, God said;  My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Meaning his presence would always be there.

So the temple was a very special place for God and his people – a holy place.

And the anger Jesus demonstrated could be described as a righteous anger, meaning he was furious at an offence against God. 

But Why Were there So many Animals in the Temple?

It was because God had instructed his people to make sacrifices of cattle and doves in the temple for the forgiveness of their sins.

A sacrifice means giving up something you love for someone you love even more.

The animals that were brought forward at the temple for sacrifice had to be perfect though, without blemish.

Since most people, like Jesus, travelled a long way to get to the temple, it was difficult to bring cattle and birds safely with them on the journey, so there were perfect sacrificial creatures, in the temple for sale.

But originally these animals were sold outside of the Temple.  And in those times, they were only sold as a last resource to tired travellers, and at a fair price.

But now, even if the people were to bring animals from their own livestock, the religious leaders would often tell them that their lamb or dove wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t perfect.

So the people were forced to buy another from the animal sellers that was deemed good enough, but they were charged a very high price.

Not only was livestock being housed and sold, but money was also being exchanged in the temple.

The religious leaders said that the Roman coins in use at the time made God unhappy because they carried a picture of their Emperor, as the Romans thought he was a god.

But we all know there is only one God, and it wasn’t an Emperor of Rome, it is our father who is in heaven.

Anyway, the leaders did not want the Roman coins used in the temple and told the people that they had to buy special “temple coins” to use instead.

But they over-charged people on the money changing and purchase of animals on purpose.

So, the honest people were being tricked into paying more than was necessary, just so other people could get rich from them.

Does this sound right to you? No, it doesn’t, because it wasn’t fair.

Jesus Paid the Price in Full for our Forgiveness

The most important thing for us to remember today is that no one can put a price on forgiveness, because Jesus, who was perfect, paid the price in full for our sins with his blood, when he died on the cross.

He sacrificed himself for us.

So now forgiveness is freely offered to those who believe in Jesus and will say sorry to God when they have done something wrong.

No money needs to change hands. 

Temple Leaders

The temple leaders understood what Jesus was saying about the temple and why, and it made them really angry.

They wanted to know who Jesus thought he was.

They wanted to know why he thought he had the right, to clear out the Temple. (when really it was their job to do that, because they should have made sure the Temple was being treated with great respect for God)

So they asked Jesus why don’t you prove you are right?

Jesus gave them a very strange answer;

He told them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.

The religious leaders probably laughed as they told Him,

This temple has taken 46 years to build, and you are going to raise it up in 3 days?

But Jesus was not talking about the stone Temple they were standing in.

He was talking about the temple of His own body.

He was speaking of an amazing sign that would come at the end of his earthly ministry.

When three days after he died, God would raise Him from the dead; and that would certainly prove that he had God’s authority.  

That would tell them who Jesus really was.

But the Leaders did not understand what he was talking about.

How Jesus is so Special

The point of all this is that what Jesus was saying then, applies to all of us here today. And this is what is so special about him.

We don’t have a temple building to worship in today.

But we do have a building called a church where we come together to worship God.

The really interesting thing is though, you and I are also known as the church to God because his spirit now lives within the hearts of all who believe in Jesus.

Today, because of Jesus, our lives, and our bodies are his temple and are to be filled with him.

This means God is always with us, and we can talk to him whenever we want.

A House of Prayer

Jesus said God’s temple should be a house of prayer.

Prayers mean we can talk to God anytime, anywhere.

No one can keep us from talking to God.

He wants us all to talk to Him! Not just adults, but children too.

Our prayers don’t need to be complicated, and they help develop our relationship with God.

He hears our prayers and gently guides us in the right direction.

And, there is no more perfect prayer than the Lord’s prayer, which we will say together later in our service.

I have found when I have been in the most difficult times of my life. 

When I have not known what to say or do, that praying those words to God has been the only, and most appropriate thing to do.

I pray that you too may find comfort in the Lord’s prayer in good times and bad and that his spirit will continue to ever dwell within us, and us within him.


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