12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. Matthew 21:12
As Jesus enters the temple He begins to overturn the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those selling pigeons. This wasn’t the first time Jesus did this.
In John 2 we read about Jesus cleansing the temple. John uses specific words that Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not use. Furthermore, John gives key details that the other three don’t mention, such as making a whip and chasing out oxen and sheep.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke have Jesus quoting Isaiah 56:7 but John does not. And finally, John records this event at the first Passover Jesus celebrated, whereas Matthew, Mark, and Luke speak of this as Jesus’ final Passover celebration.
These events tell us something important about humanity. After feeling guilt or conviction for our actions fade, we tend to resort back to our habits or behaviors that are not exchanged for the fruit of the Spirit.
If Jesus was passionate about something, it was about people experiencing or having a relationship with God.
The word “overturn” comes from the Greek word, katastrepho, which means; to overturn, overthrow, to turn upside down. “Katastrepho” is where we get our English word catastrophe from. This was not gentle interaction. There were a few reasons why Jesus cleansed the temple.
As people traveled from all over the Roman Empire, they carried a variety of coins. They needed to exchange their currency for the required ½ shekel temple offering. (Exodus 30:15)
Then there were the pigeon sellers. Matthew specifically mentions these individuals because a pigeon was an offering prescribed in Leviticus 14:22 for the poor. These sellers would jack up the cost of the pigeons required for a sacrificial offering because of necessity.
The third reason why Jesus responded with such passion was all of this took place in the court of the Gentiles. It was the only place permitted where non-Jewish people could come and pray to God.
This is where the High Priest permitted the money-changers and sellers to do their business. All the buying and selling made the area not conducive to prayer. The High Priest, money-changers, and sellers were putting profits above prayer.
There is nothing more important to Jesus than creating an atmosphere for people to know God. Jesus always chooses relationship over religion. Anything that would complicate or prevent people from having a relationship with God or experiencing the full effect of salvation was not tolerated by Jesus.
- There is no mention of anyone challenging Jesus’ motives.
- The High Priest knew this was wrong.
- The sellers knew their actions were corrupt.
With the same passion He demonstrated in clearing out the temple, Jesus now shows with compassion towards the blind and the lame who came to find God. As Jesus heals those, children begin to sing “Hosanna, to the son of David” directed at Jesus.
“15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,” Matthew 21:15
Indignant: feeling or showing anger or annoyance at what is perceived as unfair treatment.
The same guys who permitted the thievery of the poor and innocent, are now enraged by Jesus healing the blind and the lame!? When you are filled with anger and hate towards someone, your judgment becomes skewed. You call what is good evil and what is evil good.
Let’s drive this home.
Just as Jesus came to clean house, has God revealed things to you this week that need to be cleaned up in your life? Are you putting preferences above His presence? Are their things that you have made excuses for that are interfering with growing closer to God? It’s time to clean house.