Why did Jesus have to cleanse the temple? Why was He not content to just let things go on business as usual? In John 2, Jesus “cleans house” literally because those Jews had made the temple a “house of merchandise” (John 2:16). There were things, behaviors, and attitudes that didn’t belong in a house dedicated to the Lord.
1 Corinthians talks about the temple of the Lord being both the individual human body and the collective body of the church (see 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20). Can Christians look with the eyes of Jesus and see the point when there are things which wholly don’t belong and ought to be “driven out?” Consider some principles about cleansing the “temple:”
Cleansing starts with seeing the things that are out of place. Jesus knew those moneychangers didn’t belong there. He knew God’s view of those things in His house. What was “normal” to everyone else was offensive to God. Can we look and see things in our lives and in the church which are wholly displeasing to the Lord (2 Cor. 13:5)?
Cleansing is about the removal of filth and impurity. All that was associated with God’s house was holy. The people had a responsibility to approach in holiness and to treat Him with reverence and respect (Lev. 10:1-3). Sin is a serious thing to God (Rom. 6:23; Is. 59:1-2). He wants us to be about the business of purity (Matt. 5:8).
Cleansing the temple is something of which others will take note. John 2 details some reactions of the individuals who witnessed this. John 2:17 says his disciples remembered scripture when He did it. Cleansing must be based on scripture. The Jews whose livelihood was interrupted were indignant and requested a sign of His authority (2:18-19. When holiness and concern for purity are emphasized, people will take note (John 12:32). God’s dwelling place ought to be clean! The Savior understood it. Do we?