My Father's House
Read John 2
Jesus was not a typical man. He performed many miracles demonstrating this fact. The Apostle John calls these miracles “signs.” These “signs” served as a mark or token to authenticate Jesus’s identity.
As an example of this, in chapter 2 of his account, the Apostle John tells of a wedding in Cana of Galilee. At this wedding, Jesus turns water into wine. John says, “This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” (John 2:11)[i]
After the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus walked the 20 to 25 miles to Capernaum with His mother, His brothers and His disciples. According to John, Jesus was in Capernaum a few days before leaving to walk the 120 miles to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.
The Law of Moses required the Jews to observe the Passover every year. The Apostle John records 4 Passovers that Jesus attended. One at the beginning of His three-year ministry (John 2:13), two in the middle (John 5:1, 6:4) and then the last one at which He was slain as the Passover Lamb (John 11:55).
The Passover, of all the Jewish feasts, clearly portrayed the sacrifice Jesus was born to fulfill. The blood of the Passover Lamb kept the judgment of God from falling on the Jewish household when God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt. In the same way, the blood of Jesus keeps the judgment of God from falling on us when He delivers us from slavery to sin.
Jesus was not a typical man. He was the Son of Man, also known as the Son of God. John the Baptist called Him “the Lamb of God.”
He walked 120 miles from Capernaum to Jerusalem to be at the temple for Passover. He was not alone. Jews from all over the world gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover. The city was crowded with these pilgrims.
These travelers were a good business opportunity. Food and lodging were necessary. Since it was a religious festival, animals for sacrifice and religious ceremonies were also necessary. People traveling from other regions brought money from other countries. This money had to be exchanged for local currency.
We exchange money for local currency even today. I have money from Mexico, Canada and Japan that cannot be used at the local convenience store. It has to be exchanged. I have always exchanged my money at banks, and they always take a cut. They buy low and sell high. Like any industry, the unscrupulous can take advantage of this system to rob people.
When Jesus arrived at the temple John says, “In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.” (John 2:14) To be fair, this says nothing about any cheating or robbing. It is a market. People are buying, selling and trading. Sheep are bleating, cows are lowing and doves are cooing and flapping. And, yuck, the animals are indiscriminate about where they relieve themselves. Can you imagine the smell, the noise and the commotion?
Jesus made a whip and drove them all out of the temple. He said, “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:16)
When Matthew and Mark deal with the account of Jesus chasing the money changers out of the temple they mention that He said, "'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it 'a den of robbers.'" (Matthew 21:13, NIV)[ii]
This quote refers to the word of the Lord given through Jeremiah the prophet. In chapter 7 of Jeremiah, it says:
8Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! 9Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!” —only to go right back to all those evils again? 11Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the LORD, have spoken!
The state of the temple reflected the heart of the people toward God. The people of Jeremiah’s day suffered judgment that they never thought would come. The people of Jesus’s day also suffered judgment. Jesus promised them that not one stone of their temple would be left upon another, which happened about 40 years later.
When the disciples saw Jesus clearing the temple they thought of another Old Testament prophecy, “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (John 2:17)
The Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.”
Two things are going on here. First, they were doing something wrong and knew it. Otherwise, they would have stopped Jesus. Second, they recognized that Jesus was acting with God’s authority. This is why they asked for a miracle.
Jesus agrees to give them a sign. “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)
There is a significant change in the wording here in John’s Gospel that is missed in the English translation.
When John says that Jesus saw merchants selling in the temple, the word he uses for temple means “the temple area.” When Jesus says, “Destroy this temple,” He uses a different word. The word points to the sanctuary rather than the temple in general.
This reminds me of where the Apostle Paul says:
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
The word for temple used in this statement by the Apostle Paul is the same word used by Jesus in John’s Gospel.
When Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 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. (John 2:21-22)
In several places, the Gospel writers quote Jesus as saying, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign, but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah." (Matthew 12:29, 16:4, Luke 11:29)
Jesus was not a typical man. He did many things that were signs. He healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead, walked on water, turned water into wine and calmed the sea. His ultimate sign was rising from the dead. By this, He proved beyond doubt that He is the Son of God.
Notice that He says, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign.”
The condition of the temple showed the condition of the religion. The temple practice of Jesus’s day had become a commercial operation. Jesus confronted this with His actions and in this confrontation stirred up resistance.
Our hearts can be much the same.
Our bodies are designed to be temples, but we clutter our hearts with so many things. The gods we serve might be self, money, pleasure, greed, bitterness, envy, jealousy and many such things termed the lust of the flesh. When we meet Jesus, He confronts these things. In this confrontation, He stirs up resistance.
In our day, just to say sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is wrong, is to invite condemnation and criticism from a culture that insists that sex is a personal matter controlled by biology.
Sex is not the only issue. The Apostle Paul says:
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
When we meet Jesus, He confronts these things. Our first defense is to demand a sign. “What right do you have to say what I am doing is wrong?”
Just as the condition of the temple reflected the spiritual condition of the nation’s religion, the condition of our inner temple reflects our spiritual condition. This is why the Apostle Paul says, “Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21)
Do we love the Father the way Jesus did?
Does passion for the Father consume us?
What or where for you is “My Father’s House”?
[i] Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation. Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Steam, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
[ii] Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.