The Gospel According to Jesus
Topic: Salvation Scripture: John 2:16, Romans 12:1
The priests of the temple had one job… to lead the people into faithful worship of the Living God. On one hand, they were diligent about the rituals and sacrifices; but on the other hand, they literally rejected God-in-flesh and allowed the section for Gentiles to be turned into a marketplace. The Temple was meant to be an intersection between heaven and earth, where people could come and encounter the LORD. Instead it turned into an exclusive center for Jewish patriotism. Jesus was not impressed.
Jesus was disgusted when he came to the Temple. Years of Roman oppression eroded Israel’s vision for the nations (see Genesis 12:2-3). The Court of Gentiles in the Temple had turned into a marketplace for buying and selling animals for sacrifice. How could Gentile seekers come and seek the LORD in prayer while surrounded by the cries of goats and bulls and doves? Those vendors could find ways to explain why they should’ve been allowed there, but they crowded out the very purpose of the temple: to be a light to the nations where the LORD is worshipped and proclaimed.
After turning over the vendor tables and making a huge scene, Jesus called the priests to repentance. He said, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:16) When he was challenged on his authority to do such things he told them what sign to look for: he would tear down the temple and rebuild it in three days! What a ridiculous claim. It took 46 years to build the temple, but Jesus said he’d rebuild it in only three because he was talking about his body, not the physical stones.
Here’s the point: the Temple is meant to promote the worship of God for all peoples. In this passage Jesus is equating himself as the living temple. He is the one to be worshipped. He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And he is Emmanuel – God with us. John 2:22 makes it clear his disciples did not understand what he was talking about until after his resurrection. Jesus’ death (tearing down the temple) and resurrection (rebuilding the temple) is the way for all people everywhere to be redeemed from their sin and restored into fellowship with God.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection those who are “in Christ” have become the temple of God (Ephesians 2:21). We are living temples where the Holy Spirit lives. We are called to give ourselves as a “living sacrifice” of worship (Romans 12:1). May we beware of the temptation to turn the temple of our hearts into a marketplace: rather than living as an expression of worship to God, we get so busy with action for God we have begun to crowd out others who are seeking the Lord. Christians, as members of the temple of Christ, are people whose lives are marked by worship, God’s presence, and commitment to proclaiming the gospel to unbelievers. This Easter, resist the temptation to allow spiritual clutter to crowd out the mission God has given his people.