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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Reflective Bible Study

Destroying the Temple: John 2:13-25

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Year in John – Episode 5: When Jesus is challenged for clearing the commerce out of the temple, discover how and intentional misunderstanding sets the stage for Jesus’ ultimate mission for His ministry to this world.

Read the transcript:

While several of the other gospel writers include an event like this much later in Jesus’ ministry, John shares with us a time very early on in Jesus’ ministry when He goes to the temple and clears out the commerce. However, while John’s gospel includes this event, what fascinates me more than Jesus kicking the merchants and moneychangers out of the temple is what John tells us happened next.

Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 2, and we will read it from the New International Reader’s Version. Starting in verse 13, John sets the stage saying:

13 It was almost time for the Jewish Passover Feast. So Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courtyard he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves. Others were sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So Jesus made a whip out of ropes. He chased all the sheep and cattle from the temple courtyard. He scattered the coins of the people exchanging money. And he turned over their tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered what had been written. It says, “My great love for your house will destroy me.”

Pausing briefly, while we might think Jesus challenged those in the temple because they were cheating people and being dishonest, nothing in John’s description of this event suggests dishonesty. Instead, John frames Jesus’ actions as being against cheapening God’s house and making it like any other marketplace. This challenge is one that says God’s house should be a place where the focus is on God and not on anything else.

This challenge also strongly suggests that God’s house shouldn’t be a place where money is exchanged. Giving money as tithe or offering is different. The big issue I see in Jesus’ actions and words is against exchanging money for goods or services in God’s house because treating where we worship as a marketplace cheapens the holiness of where we come to God to worship Him.

However, Jesus’ actions don’t sit well with the Jewish leaders. Continuing in verse 18, John tells us:

18 Then the Jewish leaders asked him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “When you destroy this temple, I will raise it up again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple. Are you going to raise it up in three days?” 21 But the temple Jesus had spoken about was his body. 22 His disciples later remembered what he had said. That was after he had been raised from the dead. Then they believed the Scripture. They also believed the words that Jesus had spoken.

Pausing again, whenever I read this brief discussion Jesus has with the Jewish leaders, I chuckle a little because I am confident Jesus answered the way He did in order to be truthful but misunderstood. Jesus intended the Jewish leaders to misunderstand Him.

I suspect that Jesus did this intentionally because if He had spoken in a way that was more clear, they probably would have tried to kill Him on that spot.

Also very interesting to me is exactly what Jesus says in His response. In verse 19, Jesus tells these religious leaders, “When you destroy this temple, I will raise it up again in three days.

When I casually read this, and John’s explanation that Jesus was referring to His body and to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, I might be tempted to understand it instead as “When you destroy this temple, [God] will raise it up again in three days.

However, Jesus does not tell us that the Father would resurrect Him, but that He would resurrect Himself. John, chapter 10, verses 17 and 18 also emphasizes this point when Jesus tells the religious leaders and those present that, “The reason my Father loves me is that I give up my life. But I will take it back again. No one takes it from me. I give it up myself. I have the authority to give it up. And I have the authority to take it back again.

While I don’t believe we can understand the full nuances present in Jesus’ statements about His power to restore Himself, and while we cannot understand exactly how He was able to do this, we do know from all the gospel records that Jesus was crucified and that He returned to life on the third day!

However, our passage isn’t finished yet. John has one more thing to tell us about this event. Continuing reading in verse 23, John tells us that:

23 Meanwhile, he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast. Many people saw the signs he was doing. And they believed in his name. 24 But Jesus did not fully trust them. He knew what people are like. 25 He didn’t need anyone to tell him what people are like. He already knew why people do what they do.

In this final portion of our passage, John emphasizes how Jesus gave the people signs from God and that this prompted people to believe in Him. However, John quickly follows up with an interesting framing of Jesus’ response. John tells us that Jesus did not fully trust people. Jesus did not fully trust sinners. This is significant because as followers of Jesus, we should clearly and wholeheartedly trust God, but we shouldn’t blindly trust sinners.

At the same time, we shouldn’t distance ourselves from sinners, because we would live a lonely life, and because we might even go crazy trying to get away from ourselves. Whether we like admitting it or not, we all are sinners.

Jesus came to redeem a world full of sinners living in active sin. He came to fulfill God’s plan for the redemption of His people. Jesus triumphed over sin and over Satan. Jesus succeeded God’s mission for His life because He didn’t push sinners away and because He didn’t blindly trust them either. Either option is a trap that could have derailed Jesus off of His mission, and we face the same two traps if we let people’s opinions take precedence over God’s plan for our lives.

As we move forward through life, remember to keep God’s plan first and to trust God exponentially more than sinners in every area of our lives.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first and place your faith, hope, trust, and belief in Him. Choose to trust God, have faith in Jesus, and move forward leaning on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance. Choose to protect the places where you worship God and keep them special and free from distraction.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn, grow, and step into the person God has created you to be. Through prayer and Bible study, discover how much God loves you and how much He has given to show you His love. Jesus came for you, and God wants to redeem you personally out of sin.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

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