This is an amazing passage and I’m struggling with where to start, there is so much going on! I love Jesus, I love his character. He’s not a peace loving hippie walking around with blond highlights and gentle words all the time. Don’t get me wrong, he shows gentleness, he’s compassionate, kind and loving – in this passage though, there is something else going on.
Jesus is angry, I don’t mean he’s lost his temper, he’s righteously angry. I’ve always said this is one of my favourite passages, you may already know that I have a bit of a temper. I’ve used this passage to validate my actions on too many occasions. I’ve twisted it out of its context. When you look at what’s actually going on, Jesus is furious that the temple has been turned into a place of business. The one place which is supposed to be cherished and treated with respect is a hub of trading activity – Jesus is hurt. This passage isn’t an excuse for our anger driven behaviour but a challenge to remember the sanctity of our God and his presence.
The temple was built with the very best intentions and has centuries of history to back it up. It was an ornate building with real prominence, as you have read it took a long time to build! The purpose though was that it was where God dwelt, behind the veil. Only one person, once a year could enter the inner sanctuary. The holiness of God is so devastating that there were layers of walls between the outside world and his presence. The temple was supposed to glorify God. Something has gone wrong here, it’s turned into a place of politics and business. The quote that sums it all up is ‘His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”’. It is zeal for his house, his glory that should consume us. Zeal for anything else is not an excuse for our actions. When Jesus’ disciples saw his actions they knew exactly where it was coming from, I’m not sure I’ve been able to say the same.
Jesus also provides a “sneak peek” into his resurrection with his comments about the temple being rebuilt. It’s a wonderful picture, and the disciples make sense of it later on. It says they believed the scripture and the words he had spoken. Jesus doesn’t speak to be heard, everything he says means something. He doesn’t get angry because he’s lost control, everything he does has a purpose. Like I said, I love Jesus.
I’m only going to say a little bit about the gem at the end, I know I can’t keep you forever. Our passage says ‘He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person’. This amazing Jesus knows you, he knows every feeling, every thought, every secret. He doesn’t need a character reference because he knows you completely. He tore the veil for us to approach God freely, we can be in his presence without fear because Jesus, knowing us, made a way.
The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated
(Kari Jobe, Forever)