World Wide Study Bible

Study

a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”


Select a resource above

13. And the passover of the Jews was at hand; therefore Jesus went up to Jerusalem. The Greek words καὶ ἀνέβη, may be literally rendered, and he went up; but the Evangelist has used the copulative and instead of therefore; for he means that Christ went up at that time, in order to celebrate the passover at Jerusalem. There were two reasons why he did so; for since the Son of God became subject to the Law on our account, he intended, by observing with exactness all the precepts of the Law, to present in his own person a pattern of entire subjection and obedience. Again, as he could do more good, when there was a multitude of people, he almost always availed himself of such an occasion. Whenever, therefore, we shall afterwards find it said that Christ came to Jerusalem at the feast, let the reader observe that he did so, first, that along with others he might observe the exercises of religion which God had appointed, and, next, that he might publish his doctrine amidst a larger concourse of people.

16. Make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise. At the second time that he drove the traders out of the Temple, the Evangelists relate that he used sharper and more severe language; for he said, that they had made the Temple of God a den of robbers, (Matthew 21:13;) and this was proper to be done, when a milder chastisement was of no avail. At present, he merely warns them not to profane the Temple of God by applying it to improper uses. The Temple was called the house of God; because it was the will of God that there He should be peculiarly invoked; because there He displayed his power; because, finally, he had set it apart to spiritual and holy services.

My Father’s house. Christ declares himself to be the Son of God, in order to show that he has a right and authority to cleanse the Temple. As Christ here assigns a reason for what he did, if we wish to derive any advantage from it, we must attend chiefly to this sentence. Why, then, does he drive the buyers and sellers out of the Temple? It is that he may bring back to its original purity the worship of God, which had been corrupted by the wickedness of men, and in this way may restore and maintain the holiness of the Temple. Now that temple, we know, was erected, that it might be a shadow of those things the lively image of which is to be found in Christ. Thai; it might continue to be devoted to God, it was necessary that it should be applied exclusively to spiritual purposes. For this reason he pronounces it to be unlawful that it should be converted into a market-place; for he founds his statement on the command of God, which we ought always to observe. Whatever deceptions Satan may employ, let us know that any departure — however small — from the command of God is wicked. It was a plausible and imposing disguise, that; the worship of God was aided and promoted, when the sacrifices which were to be offered by believers were laid ready to their hand; but as God had appropriated his Temple to different purposes, Christ disregards the objections that might be offered against the order which God had appointed.

The same arguments do not apply, in the present day, to our buildings for public worship; but what is said about the ancient Temple applies properly and strictly to the Church, for it is the heavenly sanctuary of God on earth. We ought always, therefore, to keep before our eyes the majesty of God, which dwells in the Church, that it may not be defiled by any pollutions; and the only way in which its holiness can remain unimpaired is, that nothing shall be admitted into it that is at variance with the word of God.

17. And his disciples remembered. It is to no purpose that some people tease themselves with the inquiry how the disciples remembered a passage of Scripture, with the meaning of which they were hitherto unacquainted. For we must not understand that this passage of Scripture came to their remembrance at that time; but afterwards, when, having been taught by God, they considered with themselves what was the meaning of this action of Christ, by the direction of the Holy Spirit this passage of Scripture occurred to them. And, indeed, it does not always happen that the reason of God’s works is immediately perceived by us, but afterwards, in process of time, He makes known to us his purpose. And this is a bridle exceedingly well adapted to restrain our presumption, that we may not murmur against God, if at any time our judgment does not entirely approve of what he does. We are at the same time reminded, that when God holds us as it were in suspense, it is our duty to wait for the time of more abundant knowledge, and to restrain the excessive haste which is natural to us; for the reason why God delays the full manifestation of his works is, that he may keep us humble.

The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. The meaning is, that the disciples at length came to know, that the zeal for the house of God, with which Christ burned, excited him to drive out of it those profanations. By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, David employs the name of the temple to denote the whole worship of God; for the entire verse runs thus:

the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them who reproached thee have fallen on me, (Psalm 69:9.)

The second clause corresponds to the first, or rather it is nothing else than a repetition explaining what had been said. The amount of both clauses is, that David’s anxiety about maintaining the worship of God was so intense, that he cheerfully laid down his head to receive all the reproaches which wicked men threw against God; and that he burned with such zeal, that this single feeling swallowed up every other. He tells us that he himself had such feelings; but there can be no doubt that he described in his own person what strictly belonged to the Messiah.

Accordingly, the Evangelist says, that this was one of the marks by which the disciples knew that it was Jesus who protected and restored the kingdom of God. Now observe that they followed the guidance of Scripture, in order to form such an opinion concerning Christ as they ought to entertain; and, indeed, no man will ever learn what Christ is, or the object of what he did and suffered, unless he has been taught and guided by Scripture. So far, then, as each of us shall desire to make progress in the knowledge of Christ, it will be necessary that Scripture shall be the subject of our diligent and constant meditation. Igor is it without a good reason that David mentions the house of God, when the divine glory is concerned; for though God is sufficient for himself, and needs not the services of any, yet he wishes that his glory should be displayed in the Church. In this way he gives a remarkable proof of his love towards us, because he unites his glory — as it were, by an indissoluble link — with our salvation.

Now as Paul informs us that, in the example of the head, a general doctrine is presented to the whole body, (Romans 15:3,) let each of us apply to the invitation of Christ, that — so far as lies in our power — we may not permit the temple of God to be in any way polluted. But, at the same time, we must beware lest any man transgress the bounds of his calling. All of us ought to have zeal in common with the Son of God; but all are not at liberty to seize a whip, that we may correct vices with our hands; for we have not received the same power, nor have we been entrusted with the same commission.




Advertisements