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Cleaning God’s House

The story of Jesus cleansing the Temple in John 2:13-16 is often cited as the basis and guide for righteous anger. Jesus was offended that the Priests and Rabbis had insulted God’s House with the traffic of animals and unethical business with money. So, appropriately, Jesus displays righteous anger and overturns the tables and sends the vendors away.

If you take some time to reflect on the passage, you will notice in verse 15 that Jesus makes a whip. If I had to make a whip, it might take me weeks. How long did it take Jesus? 2 minutes?   5 minutes? 20 minutes?

This verse tells me that Jesus did not act hastily and in anger. He had “time to cool off” so to speak; though it is hard for me to imagine the need for God Incarnate to cool down. While Jesus is clearly passionate about the events, He is not out of control. He takes time to make a whip. He gathers the materials and assembles them carefully. He knows the mission and purpose of the next few minutes and He carefully acts to deliver the right message about God’s House.

What message?

God’s House has a plan and a purpose. At that time, it was the place of intercession and prayer. The people needed animals for sacrifice and coins for offerings and taxes. The sin was placing the business enterprise above the spiritual enterprise. The goal of assisting people in their pilgrimage to a proper, redeemed relationship with God had been replaced by the objectives of business. Profit was the motive rather than reconciliation.

John also mentions that it is near Passover. Perhaps this is just a calendar reference to let people know something about the date in the same way a news reporter would today. I think there was more however.

Women the world over are familiar with the discipline of Spring Cleaning. It is likely that this tradition has roots in the Jewish preparation for Passover. Each year, Jewish families would clean, scrub, and launder their houses to rid the home of yeast in preparation for Passover. They were meticulous; even fanatical. Only when every cupboard and closet, every drawer and counter had been swept and dusted (multiple times if needed) would Mom allow them to rest from the labor.

What a contrast. Every Jewish home scrubbed and spotless. But the Temple of God dirty and filled with livestock. God’s Temple has literally been turned into a barn. No wonder Jesus throws everybody out. The Temple needed cleaning both physically and spiritually.

Perhaps you would take time to ask Jesus for cleansing in the temple of your life today.

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29 replies
  1. Tom Usher
    Tom Usher says:

    Hi Bruce and All

    This is a good post Bruce. I like how you tie in spring-cleaning and Passover, especially the yeast.

    When I think about the cleaning, many things come to mind. Jesus harmed nobody during that cleaning. Correct me if I’m wrong, but he was not directly accused by the Sanhedrin of a crime in cleaning the Temple. I think those two things speak volumes.

    Blessings,

    Tom

    P.S. That’s a beautiful photo right before this post.

  2. LarryJackson
    LarryJackson says:

    This post is really relevant for today and the times we are living in. Those folks who were so interested in making a profit on the sacrifices for the temple remind me of some of the people we have in Washington running our country.

  3. Paul L.
    Paul L. says:

    It’s easy for today’s churches to get more involved in the finances of the church than spreading the gospel. The world is becoming more corrupt, churches are following along. That’s a sad state of affairs.

    I believe today’s church needs a cleaning and that if it’s not done by the pastors and leaders then God will take matter into his own hands. He’s done it before. Only obedience will stop Him from doing it again.

    Passover is a great time to reflect on this. The church needs to wake up! This isn’t a game!

  4. Dan Flowers
    Dan Flowers says:

    Well spoken, and well presented. We should all take stock daily as to our hearts condition in consideration of the gift which God has given us through Christ Jesus… especially at this time. And, throughout the year, as well.

    Thanks for sharing this lesson.

  5. IFlyMe
    IFlyMe says:

    Very good article. These passages are also relevant to Lent, the cleansing of the temples of ourselves after perhaps a period of misuse,

  6. Sister Sabbay
    Sister Sabbay says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your site. Christ never had the propensity to sin, as He never sinned, not even in His daily thoughts . And, it was finished at the Cross (John 19:33, 1 John 3:9).

    Sabbay
    AdventistWheat

  7. CSalt
    CSalt says:

    One thing to note… The money changers were setup in the “court of the Gentiles”… thus denying foreigners and other Gentiles a place to worship God… Perhaps this, primarily, was the source of Christ’s anger….

  8. mechape
    mechape says:

    You wrote
    “God’s Temple has literally been turned into a barn.”

    In essence Jewish Temple was a slaughter house for animals, blood was all over the place.

    Sacrifice – that is the word.

    What did Christianity ? They said let’s make one human sacrifice once and for all. And this idea catched the minds of ancients. End of story, start A.C.

  9. Get Your Ex Back
    Get Your Ex Back says:

    My fellow on Facebook shared this link and I’m not dissapointed at all that I came here.

  10. Heartburn Home Remedy
    Heartburn Home Remedy says:

    The style of writing is quite familiar to me. Did you write guest posts for other blogs?

  11. Developerholic
    Developerholic says:

    One of the arguments here in our country is whether the church would accept donations that are “gambling money”.

    Anyway, I interpret this as cleaning ourselves because we are God’s church 🙂

  12. Matt
    Matt says:

    Your knowledge of the bible is excellent. The passage you explain from John definitely gives some motivation. Yes, I know me thinking of motivation from what you have said may seem ironic since everyone has been kicked out of the Temple that has been corrupted by human profit and filth. However, Jesus’ cleaning of the temple encourages us to live our lives to the fullest and not lose sight of happiness in life. This means for us not to be driven in profit because when we do more important things get lost. Such as what happened with the temple, when profit-seeking became the goal the concepts of reconciliation and spirituality had been lost. In an every-day since I think this can apply to everyday relationships of love and friendship and cherish the moments as we live them.

  13. Matt
    Matt says:

    I like your application of this verse, but I wonder if maybe it didn’t take Jesus as long as you suggest to make the “whip.” 2 weeks seems like a long time to weave together a good whip, but since the text doesn’t really say much about it, it could have easily been a very crude whip, which could have only taken a few minutes- just something to get the job done. As you said, I don’t think Jesus had to “cool off” since his anger was justified and I don’t really see any reason to think that he sat and planned out everything he was going to do. Of course this isn’t really the point of your article or the text, so no big deal- thanks for the insight into Jewish culture during Passover.

  14. Willem Kooijman
    Willem Kooijman says:

    I have always found it a bit hard to understand why Jesus became so extremely angry at what was going on in the great temple in Jerusalem in his days. Jews from all over the world came to the great religious festivals, like the Passover festival, and offering God animal sacrifices had been part of the way the festivals were celebrated for many centuries.
    How could the people offer God animal sacrifces if there were no people around who sold animals that could be sacrifced?
    And if a lot of Jews came from countries that were far away from Israel and had their own money which was different from the money that the Jews used …. then those foreign Jews simply needed money changers who were willing to change their foreign money into the generally accepted Jewish money.

  15. Jake
    Jake says:

    Are you sure Jesus “gather[ed] the materials and assemble[ed] them carefully” ?? Or are you trying to make a mountain out of a molehill by taking a menial phrase to make your own point out of it…? Couldn’t he have made a whip out of a rope or simply grabbed a chord where there was no assembly required? Please be more careful in adding your own interpretation to Scripture where it’s obviously unnecessary. That is not to discourage you from reading the Bible but to keep you exegetically accurate.

  16. Rob
    Rob says:

    I think you have a good message here, but I wonder if you miss the main point of this message: Jesus is emphasizing the importance of the purity of the bride (the church) and the message to take from this is, are we honoring to the bride with our churches/worship. For instance:

    – Do the sermons accurately exegete scripture, or do they just share “feel good, self-help” self-righteous post-modernism?

    – Do we have pastors/visiting ministers who sell books from the pulpit? Do we have tables with books for sale in the churches we attend?

    – Are the hymns we sing Biblically-based, or are just singing songs that “sound good to us?”

    – Do we elect men to eldership positions who meet all of Paul’s pastoral qualifications (I-II Tim, Titus) – (e.g. temperate, not divorced, not a lover of money, etc.) Do we hold the elders accountable to those qualifications?

    etc…

    Jesus clearing the temple is a message about the purity of the bride, and we need to examine the practices of our churches and test them against the Word, to see if God alone is being glorified through our worship, and not man.

  17. Last Days Call
    Last Days Call says:

    This message made me think that as a new temple of God (our body) we should therefore take care of it and make it spotless as possible. To be holy in the presence of the Lord and should not be a den of thieves (abomination) by lawless deeds and wickedness like drunkenness, prostitution, drug addiction and any acts that defile ourselves.

  18. Dr.Bruce
    Dr.Bruce says:

    Rob, my only disagreement with you is about the main point of the passage. The main point is Jesus’ judgment on the Jewish leaders to tolerate the corruption of Temple worship. That is simple and clear.

    One application of this to modern faith is that we should not allow the same thing to happen and should instead remain pure in all the areas you mentioned. While the distinction between exegesis and application in this passage is not enormous, it can be significant at times.

    Thanks for the encouraging comments.

    Blessings!

  19. Beverly
    Beverly says:

    There were already animals of several kinds so there were whips already there. Jesus just picked up one of them and used it.
    Blessings’
    Beverly Estes

  20. Beverly Estes
    Beverly Estes says:

    There were already animials there and so there were already whips there. Jesus just picked up one and used it.
    Blessings
    Beverly

  21. Beverly Estes
    Beverly Estes says:

    Animials were there along wiht the whip so Jesus just picked it up and used it.
    Blessings
    Beverly

  22. Christian Vendor Space
    Christian Vendor Space says:

    I agree. We have to clean the temple of God that is in us. We have to keep it clean just like the way we wanted our house to be. This way, we could bring glory to our God more.

  23. Christian Vendor Space
    Christian Vendor Space says:

    To be a good follower of Christ, we must be clean His temple which is no other than our body.

  24. Freddie Cook
    Freddie Cook says:

    drug addiction kills that is for sure, everyone should be more concerned on the war on drugs”.,

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