Lesson Thirty Five
JESUS CLEANS THE TEMPLE
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A woman went on vacation. When she returned she found squatters had broken into her home and moved in—10 people with five cats and a dog. In the short time they had lived in her home most of it had been ruined. Furniture was broken, stains ruined the carpet, the floor was scratched, and the odor of too many cats infiltrated the home. As you can imagine she was angry. To make matters worse the squatters argued that it was not, in fact, her home, but theirs.
Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for Passover and found something similar minus the cats. He came to the temple, the dwelling of God, His Father, only to find that squatters in the form of religious leaders and priests had moved in using the temple, not as a house of prayer, but as a place for business. The very system that God established to atone for sin had been hijacked. Instead of a place to offer salvation to people, it was a place to take advantage of them. As Jesus looked over the scene, He was angry.
As Jesus looked over the scene, He was angry.
This display of righteous indignation surprised everyone. The overturned tables, the money boxes flying, the animals scattering, and the people running created one large moment of bedlam caused by a Man who’d only been known for His peace. But interestingly as the quiet replaced the chaos, Jesus did not stand alone. His disciples were there. The poor, lame, and diseased remained. Children and their parents stood in expectation. So when the priests and money changers slowly returned, they found a very different moment—Jesus healing, teaching, and blessing amidst the chatter of happy children.
There is an Australian man on social media who finds homes with overgrown yards. Grass that’s three feet tall, brambles, unkept bushes, and more demonstrate months and years of neglect. He knocks on the door and offers to clear the yard for free. Then with a video camera in place, he records his attack on the yard with any variety of tools, eventually uncovering a beautiful lawn hidden beneath the weeds. It’s amazingly satisfying to watch. The messy becomes tidy. The wild and unruly are conquered.
The messy becomes tidy. The wild and unruly are conquered.
This is what Jesus did at the temple. He cleared away what sin had brought, revealing the beauty of God’s love and salvation. He’s still doing it today. Our hearts and our lives are sometimes like those overgrown yards, or the noisy and chaotic temple grounds. Jesus is ready and willing to come into our hearts for free to reveal His love and plan for our lives. He’s knocking on your door today. Allow Him in and be renewed.
- The number of people who gathered for Passover in Jerusalem was astounding. It is estimated that there could be as many as 250,000 Jews in attendance. While they were there, they had to pay the temple tax. But the priests would only receive it in the special temple coin. This is why there were money changers there and you can imagine the noise as a result.
- Interestingly many Bible commentators speculate as to why the need for the temple coin. Some believe it is because of the pagan images on the coins, but coins from Tyre were accepted and they had these images. It would appear it wasn’t what was on the coins, but what they were made of. The priests were interested in the metal content, which was more preferred and valuable.
- The whip Jesus made from cords was not used on animals or people, but as a symbol of authority.
Making it Real
Maybe the best way to apply this story is to do some cleaning. I’m guessing that somewhere in your house is an untidy closet, corner, or basement. Designate this week to do something about it. If you have children, involve them in the process. As you do, think about what Jesus did at the temple. He wasn’t just cleaning things because they were messy. Why did He do it? How is your cleaning an example of what we need to do with our hearts and our lives. Oh, and if you happen to be one of the few who are completely organized, who might you offer help with their garage, their lawn, or a closet or two?
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.