Friday, July 15, 2016

Some brief thoughts on Jesus' cleansing power - John 2:13-25

John 2:12-25 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house aplace of business.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. 23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, 25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

Today's post features Jesus' cleansing of the temple at the beginning of his earthly ministry. Why is this episode included in John's Gospel? When we look at the wider context, this action follows on the heels of Jesus' miracle of turning water into wine at Cana (John 2:1-12). In that miracle, Jesus reveals Himself as the Mediator of the New Covenant. By Jesus' actions and words, the indicator was that the New Covenant age had dawned through His Person and work. The cleansing of the temple adds onto this emphasis by underscoring how Jesus had come to be the "New Temple". By His incarnation, Jesus was and is God in human flesh. He had come to bring cleansing, which the Old Covenant system could not do with respect to the conscience and the human heart (see Hebrews 9:11-15). 

Today's post presents an outline of the key points we find in Jesus casting out of the money changers in John 2:13-25. This blogger takes the historic route of interpretation that suggests that Jesus' had cleansed the temple at the beginning of his ministry and then at the end. Such bookends details for us how Jesus saw His relationship to His people and the system which He came to replace and thus fulfill.

As we consider this text, we can note how Jesus’ cleansing power can cleanse three things:

1. Cleanses away barriers to God. John 2:12-17

a. Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple gave time for repentance. Both in this cleansing and the second one recorded in the other three Gospels, we find the timing to be "near the Passover". As the Lamb of God, Jesus' actions was intentional in both instances, since He came to fulfill every festival and prophecy made about His first coming.

b. Jesus second cleansing of temple indicated time was up (Mt 21:1-17; Mk 11:15-17; Lk 19:45-47). Jesus had presented Himself as King of Israel, only to be rejected. His indictment on the temple and the cursing of the fig tree signaled that, at least for the time being, Israel would be temporarily set aside. Other scriptures indicate that the day will come when Jesus returns to restore Israel. The Old Covenant and its way of doing things was coming to a close. The New Covenant age through Jesus Christ was getting under way. These are among the rich meanings behind Jesus' actions, as well as getting us ready for what would be His pending crucifixion.

c. The alphabetic barriers that get between us and God: Apathy, Busyness, Carelessness, Distraction. Sadly, not only were these four things present in the temple precincts of Jesus' day, but all too often we find such in our churches and individual Christian lives. Jesus is the believers holiness, righteousness and sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:30).

2. Cleanses away sin. John 2:18-22

a. Jesus begins and ends His earthly ministry by pointing to His mission: the cross/resurrection.

b. As we noted earlier, the two times we see Jesus cleansing the temple in the four Gospels function as bookends for highlighting how He saw Himself in relationship to the temple. In this first cleansing of John's Gospel, Jesus comes as the Servant of the Lord, the Lamb of God, cleaning out His Father's house. In the latter cleansing of the other three Gospels, Jesus comes as King to clean out His house.

3. Cleanses the human heart. John 2:23-25

a. Jesus knew hearts & could cleanse hearts, as only God could (1 Sam 16:7; Isaiah 1:18; Lk 16:15).

b. Jesus' words, actions and miracles combine together to provide a full profile of Him as the Son of God, God in human flesh.


1. Jesus’ cleansing away of barriers and sin makes way for a clean heart to know Him better.

2. Notice how many times Jesus predicted His death/resurrection (Mt 12:39-40; 16:21; 17:9; 20:17-19; 26:61; 27:40; Mk 8:31; 10:32-34; Lk 9:22; John 2:18-22). Take each day this week to think about what Jesus did for you on the cross.

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