Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover and found men selling cattle and exchanging money. He made a whip of cords and overturned the tables (verses 16-18):
To those who sold doves He said: “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market! His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’
The Jews asked Him what sign He could show them to prove His authority (verses 19-22):
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days? “ But the temple He had spoken of was His body. After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they believed the scriipture and the words that Jesus had spoken."
The Passover celebration embodied by the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lamb is what John is talking about. He wants us to understand this. “Embodied” within the person of the sacrifice, Jesus.
The Passover celebration is also fulfilled by a once-for-all offering of the high priest on God, who is Jesus. He became our high priest, our sacrifice, our everything all at once. Now the temple is no longer necessary.
In Judaic understanding, the temple exists to bring sacrifice, especially on the Day of atonement. If you don’t have a temple, you don’t have a faith. Today, since the temple has been destroyed, modern Jews declare that you can simply pray away your sins. What did Jesus say about that temple? Take out all this stuff, because God’s house should be a house of prayer. They pray to God and hope that their sins are forgiven, for over 2000 years now.
What is going on with Jesus’ actions? Jesus had righteous indignation, not anger, not frustration. Pure wrath of God because of pure righteous anger. It was not against those who were leading the worship, and it was not against the sacrifice that was being offered. It was on the financial gain of those who wished to make money in the process. They were supposed to do this outside the temple.
Jesus is angry because He wants all the people who are not part of Judaism, who are actually seeking God, to come to this area called the Court of the Gentiles, to meet God and to understand God, and to pray to God. Instead, all the people who are Jewish are running into a giant farmer’s market. This is a preparation area to go into the inner precinct, where you are washed to go into the temple court to offer. This whole process has been violated by the sale of animals.
Jesus is not condemning the old order o worship. He is not saying there is something wrong with the way they worship. There was something wrong with the way they were getting ready to worship. This puts an end to the need of a formal sacrificial system. Jesus is about to do something to transplant all of these other sacrifices. So what is He doing? He is cleaning out the old to make way for the new. That’s the message. Make clean, so you can make new.
Why push all the animals out? Because there is only one Lamb that needs to enter into the Holy of Holies. And the irony is that there He is standing there. Now only are we talking about a rabbi cleaning the temple, we are talking about the Son of God, the Messiah, the very Lamb Himself standing there and asking for order.
Christ’s blood will nullify the entire Old Testament sacrificial system the minute it’s offered, in just five days from the temple visit.
Worship God in spirit and truth is what Jesus is after. Stop worshiping by faulty means, and begin to worship Him from your heart.
The temple building of the old covenent is replaced by the living temple of the Holy Spirit, who is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus IS the temple, just like we are His living temples. Jesus is standing there with the fullness of God, so the Holy Spirit in all of His fullness, is standing there. Jesus is saying, “I am the house of prayer. Jesus was sacrificed as the Lamb of God, not just for that moment, but forever. He died once for all.
Who is with you forever inside you? God the Holy Spirit. Who was standing there before the pharisees? God the Holy Spirit inside God the Son. In Jesus we become living temples of the Holy Spirit on earth, and we are able to offer to the world Emanuel. God forever with us.
How do you now see yourself? As the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us to treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, with incredible respect. Give God glory. You are living temples, and you are able to offer Him to the world. He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God.