There was a time that the temple (which is not to be confused with the church), was a symbolic, if not literal, dwelling place for God. People needed animals and stuff for sacrifices and rituals. During the big holidays when the temple was busy, I kind of imagine it to be like Black Friday when Passover rolled around.
When things are busy and there is some sort of demand, I suppose there’s no getting around the nature of man to make a quick buck. So stalls were set up around the temple where folks could buy what they needed for there journey into the temple area.
Some scholars believe that getting a bigger showroom to make sales on price-gouging deals needed more space so the wheeling and dealing was taking place, not just outside the temple area, but inside as well.
When Jesus came to visit, this activity did not set well with him.
John 2:15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”
Imagine the first time you witness Jesus, there is fire in his eyes as he drove the people out of the temple, swinging a bundle of ropes around and shouting.
He seemed outnumbered but they left. They didn’t resist him and have a bunch of men restrain him and toss him out onto the street laughing at him.
John 2:18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”
19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
I’ve heard this passage of scripture used as an excuse for Christians to climb on their judgmental high horse and say, ” If Christ can do it, so can I.”
Of course, most folks aren’t willing to do everything Christ did, just what satisfies their lust for superiority or sin.
But JESUS was calling himself the temple and he was drawing the corruption that man had brought into the religious experience out of a man-made temple and into a different kind of temple.
So, if I want to do what Jesus did, I have to look inwardly, into this temple that God now dwells in. I have to get fighting mad about what I have allowed to go on in me, the thievery, the dishonesty, the selfishness, all the things that should not be where God dwells.
I need to develop a sense of urgency, not one that looks at things and figures I’ll eventually grow out of my sinful nature. I need to do something about it right now.
I’m sure the money changers were right back inside the temple the very next day, maybe even moments after Jesus departed. But the command made by God was still valid.
So, even though, I drive those things out and they return, I need to drive them out again.
It may not look like a fiery-eyed, whip toting man chasing my demons out. It may be a humble and prayerful spirit that continuously turns to God over and over again. After all, Jesus said that the temple should be a house of prayer.
Is my temple a house of prayer? Not exactly. It is a house of self-sustenance and occasional prayer. When I look at it in the mirror, I can see tons of ways it can do better.
I guess my point is, none of us has quite made it to where we ought to be. Pointing fingers at everything around us when we ought to be cleaning out our own temple isn’t going to make us better people.
I reckon I should not save spring cleaning for after I finish an inventory in a step study or when conviction overcomes me. I think spring cleaning might be a daily thing. Never put off till tomorrow what God commands me to do today.