It was a religious festival with crowds of worshippers. Everything was going well. All the worshippers needed for worship was available for sale in the corridors of the temple: one stop shop it was. The sheep are bleating. Doves in cages are flapping their wings. People have gathered from different parts of the world. So there was a ready forex bureau….then comes in a young man tipping tables over and driving people away from the temple.
By now you may have identified with this story. The scene is Jerusalem in the temple. Jesus drove out people selling in the temple and makes some astonishing statements: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (v.19). This is a temple that has taken forty-six years to build so with equal astonishment, the Jews responded: “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days? (v.20). Have you ever been in a conversation where you end up realising the other party has been misunderstanding all you have been saying? Here is a perfect example. The Scripture tells us Christ “…was speaking about the temple of his body” (v.21). Jesus is God tabernacled on earth. He was speaking spiritually about His death and resurrection, but the Jews were thinking of the physical temple.
There are a number of lessons here to draw on. Firstly, all of these incidents took place during the Passover celebration. Verse 13 of John 2 tells us “The Passover of the Jews was at hand and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” There are at least two questions here to be answered:
- What Is The Passover?
- Why Did Jesus Go To Jerusalem?
What Is The Passover?
The Passover is one of a number of Jewish festivals commanded by God to be commemorated by the Jews. It marks the story of the angel of death passing over Israel but killing all the first born male children of every Egyptian and beast. This was the last of 10plagues brought upon the Egyptians and Pharaoh finally allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt.
Why Did Jesus Go To Jerusalem?
The answer is two-fold. He was a Jew and He went to observe or celebrate the Passover as commanded by God. Jerusalem was the place of worship where God institute the commemoration of the Passover ( see Luke 2:42, John 4:20, Acts 8:26-27).
In the temple at Jerusalem the events of the day had significance. Jesus “found those who were selling oxen and sheep, and the money-changers sitting there (v.14). It must be noted that during the festival, people from different parts of the then world converge at Jerusalem to worship. Considering the things needed for the festival, animals for sacrifices and etc, it will be cumbersome to carry along all the things needed in a journey. So the oxen,sheep and pigeon on sale were all important. The money changers also had a special place in the then world. Most importantly, every Jewish male 20years or older (Exodus 30:11-16) was required to pay a temple tax so the money changers offer “forex bureau” services to the travellers.
Now, the merchants were engaged in worship-distracting activity. Worship is to be reverential and in spirit and in truth (John 4:4, Matthew 21:13) but the worshippers had made it a house of trade: Do not make my father’s house a house of trade” (John 2:16). You may ask, “what has all these got to do with my life as a Christian? to this I turn to three applications:
What The Passover Lamb Was To The Jew, Christ Is To The Christian
The lamb slain for the passover is a type of Christ and what a glorious moment to speak of His death and resurrection at the Passover celebrations. Just as the Angel of death passed over the Israelites, as Christians, we have passed from death to life by the sacrifice of Christ. We have been delivered from the bondage of sin and translated into the Kingdom of Christ. We have been pardoned of all our sins.We have been quickened and raised to sit in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:1).
What Was Required Of Temple Worship Is Required Of The Believer
The cleansing of the physical temple gives us some lessons of what is required of our spiritual temple (1Corinthians 3:23, 2Corinthians 6:16-18). Our body is the temple of God and anything we do to dishonour the temple of God dishonours Christ. Our lives must be marked by holiness and reverence (Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 69:9).
What The Passover Celebrations Was To The Jews, The Lord Supper Is To The Christian
Just as the passover celebration is a commemoration of the Passover, Christ instituted the Lord’s supper for the believer to remember his death till he come: “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19).
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