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©Michael Player

Chapter 2:13-22 (ESV)

Posted on July 22, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 2:13-22 (ESV) - The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Question to consider: Did Jesus cleanse the temple at the beginning or end of His ministry?

There are three different times in which John wrote about Jesus at the Passover. Since Jesus kept the Law perfectly, and His parents fulfilled the Law concerning Him during His childhood, we can safely assume that He went to Jerusalem for the Passover every year. John was an eyewitness of three of them.

The other three gospels described Jesus driving out the money changers on His final trip to Jerusalem before being crucified. Although it’s possible John was referring to the same event since he wasn’t necessarily organizing his account in chronological order, there are time cues given in this passage that make it more likely that Jesus did this cleansing more than once.

I had a friend once point me to Leviticus 14:33-53 where God gave a law concerning the cleansing of a diseased house. When a house was determined to be unclean, the priest would remove the diseased bricks and put them outside of the city and then scrape and re-plaster the house. Later the priest would inspect the house again, and if the disease persisted, the house was to be taken down brick by brick.

John appears to portray Jesus as the priest who found disease in His Father’s house. He used the whip to drive out the disease from the city. He then scraped and re-plastered the house by healing the sick and teaching all who were now able to come into the court and use it for the purpose God intended.

The religious leaders questioned His authority to do this by asking for a sign. Jesus responded with a prophetic sign concerning the destruction of the temple of His body by their hand and His resurrection three days later. They would try to use these words against Him during His trial but would twist them to make it seem like He was plotting some kind of insurrection. At the time in which Jesus gave them this prophecy, it would have seemed more like the statement of a crazy man than a sign.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus knew what He was going to find in Jerusalem upon His return and cursed the fig tree as a sign of what was about to happen. After His triumphal entry, Jesus once again cleaned the disease out of His Father’s house. After the religious leaders challenged Him, Jesus pronounced woes on the Pharisees and teachers of the Law and condemned the temple to its destruction, brick by brick, in AD 70.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and brings us to the cross where we can be cleansed and made new. May we be grateful for Your loving discipline. Amen.