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John 2:13-25 (web)

Conflict in the Temple

2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2:14 He found in the temple those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
and the changers of money sitting.
2:15 He made a whip of cords, and threw all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen;
and he poured out the changers' money, and overthrew their tables.
2:16 To those who sold the doves, he said,
"Take these things out of here! Don't make my Father's house a marketplace!"
2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written,
"Zeal for your house will eat me up." (Ps 69:9)
2:18 The Jews therefore answered him,
"What sign do you show us, seeing that you do these things?"
2:19 Jesus answered them,
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
2:20 The Jews therefore said,
"Forty-six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days?"
2:21 But he spoke of the temple of his body.
2:22 When therefore he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he said this,
and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover,
during the feast, many believed in his name, observing his signs which he did.
2:24 But Jesus didn't trust himself to them, because he knew everyone,
2:25 and because he didn't need for anyone to testify concerning man;
for he himself knew what was in man.

Discussion Questions

vs 13-17 Why was Jesus angry?
What right did Jesus have to drive these people from the temple?
What things should we be angry about in a similar manner?
What actions should we take?
vs 18-22 Was Jesus saying that he was going to destroy the temple?
Compare with the accusations against him in Mark 14:58 and Mark 15:29.
Have you ever had the experience of someone slandering you by misrepresenting what you said?
Who tried to destroy the temple that Jesus spoke of?
What happened later?
What are two other connotations for "temple" in the New Testament besides the two being used in this passage?
(See 1Cor 6:19 and Eph 2:21)
Consider how you might apply what Jesus said to each kind of temple.
vs 23-25 Why was Jesus reluctant to commit himself to these believers?
What kind of believers was he seeking?


Spiritual Commercialism

The passover was in commemoration of God wrath passing over the Israelites whose houses were covered by the blood of the Lamb, and His wrath came upon those who were oppressing them. Jesus was not about to pass over the offense against him and his people being done by the moneychangers on the temple grounds. What right does he have to drive them out? Very simply it's his house and they were abusing it.

It would seem that selling sacrificial animals would be helpful for the worshipers and necessary to fulfill the Law of Moses. Those in the city may not have animals to sacrifice and those in the country may have to travel far to get to the Temple and again may not have the appropriate animals. Thus one could view the temple merchants as providing a legitimate ministry to aid in the process of temple worship. The purpose of the money changers was in fulfillment of the Law. For the Law required Jewish money to be used. But many had only Roman money.

However in reality there was a great deal of corruption in this business. Exchange rates were modified so as to amass exorbitant profits. And so also with the selling of sacrificial animals. It was this greed in the midst of spiritual service that enraged the Lord so much, just as it led to the death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 and the condemnation of Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8.

Such is God's attitude towards commercialism in the Christian community as well. People have a right to get paid for their ministry as Paul advocates in 1Corinthians 9 and as the Law also says "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." (Deut 25:4) But greed comes easily leading to abuse of such privileges. The Word then becomes suppressed or misrepresented for the sake of financial gain. Or Christian ministries will charge exorbitant fees for their services and products. There are many Judas's with their hands in the money bag. (John 12:6) Better to follow Paul's example and provide Christian services free of charge.

The Temple

The temple was Jesus' body. But the body of Christ is the Church. Eph 5:23  "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Jesus is zealous, even enraged, to get rid of impurities in his body. In Galatians Paul quotes Genesis saying, "Get rid of the slave woman and her son". The slave woman represents false doctrine and her son represents false teachers, which in the case in Galatians were the group of the circumcision.  And in the context of judging sinful Christians Paul writes, "Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth." 1Cor 5:7,8 and continues "I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked man from among you.'" 1Cor 5:11-13

But the zeal for His house is rather suppressed today among Christians in the present age of ecumenical pluralism and popular feel-good antinomial Christianity.

What sign will you show us?

Though today calling God one's Father is not unusual, this was not a common expression among Jews. For to them God was distant and not intimate. By calling God his Father Jesus was advocating himself in a special relationship with God that not even Moses shared. And Jesus advocated that he had the right to drive them out because it was his Father's temple. For this reason the Jews asked a special sign to prove he was the Son of God which indicates they accepted the idea of God having a Son, and that the Son would be able to prove himself by miracles.

But why didn't Jesus do a miracle for them right then and there? Perhaps for the same reason why God doesn't casually do miracles whenever unbelieving skeptics ask. He humiliated these people convicting them of sin. It was unlikely that they were genuine in seeking him. Rather they were simply trying to humiliate him in return. For such people Jesus will lead no further to himself until they repent. The humble he guides, but the proud he humiliates or leaves behind. Besides, any God-fearing Jew with similar zeal should have had the right to as he in cleaning up the temple. If it's a matter of rights one should rather ask the temple merchants what right they have to practice greed on temple grounds.

The sign Jesus would leave them with would be his resurrection from the dead, which is spoken of whenever the gospel is preached all the way since the day of Pentecost as we hear in Peter's words, "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death." Acts 2:22-24

Resurrected Temples

It is also interesting to consider the following. There are four kinds of temples of God in the Bible. A further application is that God often brings his people through failures even to the point of being reckoned by the world as defeated, but then he raises up the humble as if resurrecting them from the dead, and brings success and fruitfulness. And God has imparted such a life within his children that it is inevitable that we will persevere to the end.

Jesus would not entrust himself to them

vs 23-25 People believed in Jesus, but Jesus did not believe in people."This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength." Jer 17:5 What was is it in man that leads Jesus not to trust in them? It was man's inherent sinful nature.

People believed when they saw his miracles, which is not surprising. But what is implied was that the kind of belief they had at that point was not being characterized as a deep conviction in which one has thought out the implications of one's faith, but simply a knee-jerk reaction to his miracles. One might call this an "Epi-faith". It was a fragile possibly transitory faith being simply on the surface, but for some it would lead to a saving faith born of conviction. The parable of the sower characterizes such difference in faith. It was reasonable for Jesus to do miracles. For God does not expect people to believe blindly without any evidence. But Jesus did not naively presume their positive reaction to his miracles to be born of a deep conviction. There are popular people especially in the entertainment industry today who are self-deluded concerning their fan's attitude towards them. But in fact such popularity is often shallow and transitory. No doubt that many of these who believed in him would later mock him and cry out for him to be crucified.

NIV version used in comments

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Aug 15,2020