John 2:13-17

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Friday, October 24, 2008
John 2:13-17 (13) And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, (14) And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: (15) And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; (16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. (17) And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Following are some thoughts on this text: 1. One would hope that when a worshipper comes to the house of God he might find it magnifying God's prophets, not multiplying men's profits; a place to humble and shame thieves, not one operated by them or used by them to plunder the worshipper. And what these men were doing was thievery according to Jesus' assessment at the second temple cleansing, “...a den of thieves” (MAT 21:13). Before the temple's former destruction, God had warned, “Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD” (JER 7:11). God still has excellent eyesight and the N.T. house of God may also be searched by His penetrating scan and found wanting when its mission has wandered from the spiritual to the material, as was the case at Laodicea, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (REV 3:17). The name of Christ has oft been blasphemed in the world because professors of His faith have resorted to such nonsense as selling indulgences or prayers for the dead. It is also a sad, horrible thing when the main reason that men join themselves to a church is because they see it as a golden cow to be milked for gain, and so cloak their covetousness with piety. And for these reasons the gospel must be preached without reservation that it may repulse those with base motivations, and be the scourge which drives such wickedness out of the hearts of the church's attendees and if need be, out of the house of God. 2. Our text offers an answer to the silly question that has been making the rounds: “What would Jesus drive?” Let fools be answered according to their folly (PRO 26:5), and let not the Holy Son of God be exploited for personal agendas. 3. Jesus' action here was deliberate and meditated. He took time to fashion an appropriate response to this corruption of God's house. And if language means anything, the phrase, “he drove them all out of the temple” (v.15) would have included the money-changers, not just the beasts. But this was not an angry “knee-jerk reaction” outburst. By this we may be reminded that anger is not necessarily a sin. “Be ye angry and sin not...” (EPH 4:26), but be “...slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (JAM 1:19-20). 4. Before the Passover feast was observed, there was a purging. This fits well with the instructions given to the church at Corinth about the keeping of the church's feast which commemorates “Christ our passover.” The old leaven of malice and wickedness must be purged out before the church enjoys that feast (1CO 5:6-13). The same principle applies to those who would feast upon the Scriptures. They must “...lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (JAM 1:21), “...laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1PE 2:1-2). The acknowledging of the truth is AFTER godliness (TIT 1:1). Washing one's hands before eating is good hygiene in a natural sense but bad doctrine when it is made a test of spirituality (MAR 7:1-3). It is sin and man's traditions that must be laid aside, not the commandment of God as did the Pharisees (MAR 7:8-9). 5. This event took place very early in Jesus' public ministry and the implications of His statement in v.16 did not seem to immediately register with His hearers. But the implications did not escape them for long. The people knew this to be the house of God, the God of creation and of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus here calls it, “ Father's house.” This was a tacit declaration that He was the Messiah of promise: Immanuel, i.e., “God with us” (ISA 7:14 c/w MAT 1:23). His enemies took Him to task on this later: “...My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD” (JOH 5:17-18). Jesus' claim that God was His Father was recognized by them for what it was: a claim to Deity by the Messiah, “Who, being in the form of God, THOUGHT IT NOT ROBBERY TO BE EQUAL WITH GOD” (PHIL 2:6). A den of thieves errantly thought it not robbery to exploit God's house, yet thought it robbery that Jesus should claim to be equal with God. Jesus correctly thought it not robbery to be equal with God. And with good reason: He was God manifest in the flesh (1TI 3:16). 6. Jesus' righteous indignation against the corruptions in the temple reminded the disciples of something written in the Messianic 69th psalm, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (JOH 2:17 c/w PSA 69:9). What Jesus did here was owing to His zeal for God's house. Oh, that saints would have zeal for God's house: perceiving it as His kingdom, loving its fellowship, revering its assembly, keeping its ordinances as delivered, supporting its minister, and defending it against corruption! The 69th psalm has a number of verses which are cited by the apostles as being fulfilled in Jesus Christ, particularly in reference to His rejection and sufferings. Of those sufferings, Jesus once asked some ambitious disciples, “...Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with...” (MAT 20:22)? Jesus was not going to suffer a few stormy sprinkles or pourings of God's wrath; He was going to be immersed in it for our sakes. David in spirit evidently prophesied of this baptism, “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me” (PSA 69:1-2). Those who, like Jesus, are consumed with zeal for God's house, will rejoice at this appropriate picture of the church's purchase and recognize that no other figure than immersion properly sets forth the baptism by which one identifies with that church on earth.

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