In our last message, we saw Jesus at the wedding in Cana in Galilee on invitation. We also saw him change water into wine. At the end of the wedding they all left for Capernaum and stayed there for a few days. In today’s passage we now see him in Jerusalem for the Passover.
John 2:13-25 (ESVST)
13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
What is Passover and why did Jesus go to Jerusalem to attend it.
Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt when the angel of death “passed over” Jewish homes in Egypt whose “doorposts” were sprinkled with blood (Ex. 12:23–27). Jews selected the lamb on the tenth of the month, and celebrated Passover on the fourteenth day of the lunar month of Nisan (full moon at the end of March or beginning of April). They slaughtered the lamb between 3:00 and 6:00 p. m. on the night of the feast. Jesus’ journeying to Jerusalem for the Passover was a standard annual procedure for every devout Jewish male over 12 years old (Ex. 23:14–17). Jewish pilgrims crowded into Jerusalem for this greatest of Jewish feasts.
14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money- changers sitting there.
Why were all these people in the temple selling these things and exchanging money?
During the celebration of Passover, worshipers came from all over Israel and the Roman Empire to Jerusalem. Because many traveled large distances, it was inconvenient to bring their sacrificial animals with them. Opportunistic merchants, seeing a chance to provide a service and probably eyeing considerable profit during this time, set up areas in the outer courts of the temple in order for travelers to buy animals. The money- changers were needed because the temple tax, paid annually by every conscientious Jewish male 20 years of age or older (Ex. 30:13–14; Matt. 17:24–27), had to be in Jewish or Tyrian coinage (because of its high purity of silver). Those coming from foreign lands would need to exchange their money into the proper coinage for the tax. The money- changers charged a high fee for the exchange. With such a large group of travelers and because of the seasonal nature of the celebration, both the animal dealers and money- changers exploited the situation for monetary gain (“den of robbers”; Matt. 21:13). Religion had become class and materialistic.
15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. 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; do 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.”
Jesus’ actions in cleansing the temple were an initial fulfillment of Mal. 3:1–3 (and Zech. 14:20–21) that speak of Messiah’s purifying the religious worship of his people.
Malachi 3:1-3 (ESVST)
1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner ‘s fire and like fullers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.
Zechariah 14:20-21 (ESVST)
And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the Lord.” And the pots in the house of the Lord shall be as the bowls before the altar. 21 And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.
As you can see from the two passages, Jesus was going to come and purify the church and make sacrifices acceptable to God. He will purify the sons of Levites so that they may bring sacrifices in righteousness to God and there will no longer be a trader in the church. As Jesus was doing this, his disciples remembered Psalm 69:9
Psalms 69:9 (ESVST)
For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
When David wrote this psalm, he was being persecuted because of his zeal toward God’s house and his defense of God’s honor. Now maybe the reason why Jesus’s disciples were thinking of this Psalm was that they were afraid that the Jews would also start to persecute them as well.
18 So the Jews said to him, “ What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
Jesus went into the temple and chased and removed all the filth from the temple. He cleansed the temple as we have indicated in the other verses. This kind of thing that Jesus did was to exercise authority over what should happen in the church. Obviously the Jews, especially the high priest should have a problem with that kind of an action from someone without authority. This is the reason they say to Jesus, ok, show us then a sign that will show us that you have the authority to do what you just did. They obviously did not see anything wrong with what was happening in the church and did not know much of what the scriptures are saying.
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 was speaking about the temple of his body.
Many groups in Judaism expected a new or transformed temple. But the old temple was one of the most magnificent buildings in antiquity, the symbol to which the rest of Judaism looked. To most Jews, and especially to the aristocracy who controlled Jerusalem’s temple, Jesus’ words here would sound blasphemous. The words of Jesus would have sounded to them as an insult to one thing the Jews hold dearly. The Jews then said it has taken 46 years to build this temple and you will raise it in 3!, they completely misunderstood Jesus here as Jesus was not talking about the church but about his body. The Jews obviously took this stament very seriously because they never forgot it. Just a few years later Jesus was accused of saying that he would destroy the temple and raise it again when he was on trial (see Mt 26:61; Mk 14:58 ), and mockers repeated the charge as he hung on the cross (Mt 27:40; Mk 15:29).
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 that Jesus had spoken.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
His disciples remembered Jesus’s saying when he was raised from the dead after three days and this, made them believe the scriptures and the word that Jesus spoke to them. If they had any doubt, when Jesus was raised from the dead and they saw him, all doubt went out the window. At this Passover in Jerusalem, many believed in him because of the signs that he was doing but because he knew what was in man, he did not entrust or commit himself to them. John here is simply saying Jesus is God and he knows what is inside your heart. Jesus does not need anyone to come and testify about any other person.
This is the end of John chapter 2.
Father we thank you for sharing your message with us. Thank you for loving us and taking care of us even though we don’t deserve it. In Jesus name, amen.