Daily Reading & Meditation
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Meditation: What can keep us from the presence of God? Jesus’ dramatic cleansing of the temple was seen by his disciples as a prophetic sign of God’s action. The temple was understood as the dwelling place of God among his people. When God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, he brought them through the sea, and finally to Mount Sinai where he made a covenant with them and gave them a new way of life embodied in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). God gave Moses instruction for worship and for making the Tabernacle, or Tent of Meeting, which was later replaced by the Temple at Jerusalem. The New Testament tells us that these “serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary” – God’s Temple in heaven (Hebrews 8:5). Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is also a prophetic sign of what he wants to do with each of us. He ever seeks to cleanse us of sin and make us living temples of his Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19). Do you want to be holy as God is holy?
Jesus burns with zeal for his Father’s house
Jesus referred to the temple as his Father’s house which was being made into a “house of trade” (John 2:16) or “den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). That is why he used physical force to expel the money-chargers. The prophecy of Malachi foretold the coming of the Lord unexpectedly to his Temple to “purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord” (Malachi 3:1-4). Jesus’ disciples recalled the prophetic words from Psalm 69: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (Psalm 69:9). This was understood as a prophecy describing the Messiah. Here the disciples saw more clearly Jesus as the Messiah who burned with zeal for the house of God.
The Jewish authorities, however, wanted proof that Jesus had divine authority to act as he did. They demanded a sign from God to prove Jesus right, otherwise, they would treat him as an imposter and a usurper of their authority. Jesus replied that the sign God would give would be Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews did not understand that the temple Jesus referred to was his own body. The “tent of his body” had to be destroyed to open the way to the presence of God for us.
The Lord Jesus makes us temples of the Holy Spirit
Through his death and resurrection, Jesus not only reconciles us with God, he fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes us temples of the living God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God’s word enlightens our minds and purifies our hearts that we may offer God fitting worship and enjoy his presence both now and forever. Do you burn with zeal for the Lord’s house?
“Lord Jesus Christ, you open wide the door of your Father’s house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship in spirit and truth. Help me to draw near to your throne of mercy with gratitude and joy.”
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. [Selah]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. [Selah]
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has wrought desolations in the earth.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Jesus cleanses the temple – his Father’s house, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)
“But why did Christ use such violence? He was about to heal on the sabbath day and to do many things that appeared to them transgressions of the law. However, so that he might not appear to be acting as a rival to God and an opponent of his Father, he takes occasion to correct any such suspicion of theirs… He did not merely ‘cast them out’ but also ‘overturned the tables’ and ‘poured out the money,’ so that they could see how someone who threw himself into such danger for the good order of the house could never despise his master. If he had acted out of hypocrisy, he would have only advised them, but to place himself in such danger was very daring. It was no small thing to offer himself to the anger of so many market people or to excite against himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by his reproaches and the disruption he caused. This was not, in other words, the action of a pretender but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the house. For the same reason, to show his agreement with the Father, he did not say ‘the holy house’ but ‘my Father’s house.’ See how he even calls him ‘Father,’ and they are not angry with him. They thought he spoke in a more general way, but when he went on and spoke more plainly of his equality, this is when they become angry.” (excerpt from HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 23.2)