Cleansing of the Temple

John 2: 13-22
1 Cor 3:9c-11,16-17 / Ps 46

Zeal for your house will consume me.
(John 2:16-17)

Let our Church be a font of grace,
Where we honor Christ’s sacrifice;
Don’t treat it like a marketplace,
True worship doesn’t have a price.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. (John 2: 13-22)


As the Passover neared, livestock traders began to congregate in the temple courtyard, as this was the time of the year for the Jews to buy sheep or oxen for their Passover meals. Currency dealers set up shop to take advantage of pilgrim Jews from foreign lands who had come to the temple for this important festival. When Jesus saw how commerce was desecrating that place of worship, He made a whip out of cords and drove the traders and money changers out of the temple grounds. In so doing, our Lord showed the officials and the people His authority to cleanse His Father’s house of the impurities being allowed by the high priests of the temple.

“What authority gives you the right to do this?” the Jews questioned Jesus. For one who seemed to be going against the traditional practices of the Jews, Jesus had performed an outrageous act in order to preserve the very traditions of Mosaic law, which emphasized holiness in all aspects of worship. For one Who was noted for His gentle nature, this ‘outburst’ was also meant to expose the hypocrisy of the high priests and Pharisees, whose love for money gave license to the traders to ply their trade in holy grounds where only prayers and offerings were traditionally allowed. Thus His “outrage” was justified, as He quoted Jeremiah (7:11): My house shall be a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves. (Mt.21:13)

It is with the same zeal that our Lord has cleaned our own temples of the Holy Spirit with His own blood on the cross, and the water that flowed out of His side from a lance. It is with the same zeal that we must likewise drive away from our sacred temples all forms of impurities like lust, covetousness and pride, selfishness, anger, and avarice.

The human body is a temple inviolable. Created in the image of its Maker, it was once lost to sin, but was redeemed at a price beyond reckoning. No wonder the forces of nature are wreaking havoc in the world today, because the marketplace has gone too far. The mighty hand of the Lord is swinging the corded whip, overturning the tables, and spilling the currencies of the world.

Dear God, we ask You to forgive us for all the desecration committed against Your holy temples, as if all the suffering and death that our Savior endured for our redemption were for nothing. Employ all our lay leaders and their communities to clean up the marketplace, applying the Gospel values of our Lord, Jesus Christ, so that by the power of Your Holy Spirit, the sanctity of Your Temple may be re-established here on earth. Amen.

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