John 2:12-22 THE FIRST CLEANSING OF THE
In recent texts we saw Jesus choose His first disciples and
perform His first miracle. In this text we see His first
cleansing of the temple. It is striking that at the beginning of
His ministry He would cleanse the temple and then at the close of
His ministry He would do it again. It seems as if He was trying
to tell those Jewish leaders something. I trust that we will
allow Him to tell us something through this text.
I. A stop at Capernaum
In our text last Sunday Jesus was at Cana of Galilee
attending a wedding feast. In our text today He travels to
went down to
on the western shores of the
would become His headquarters during His ministry. It is
interesting to note that He would make a fishing center His
headquarters while He and His disciple fish for men.
(V. 12), "...he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his
disciples..." For some reason Jesus brought His family with Him
has suggested that He wanted to set His mother's mind at ease by
showing her the place that would serve as His headquarters.
You will note that again the mother of Jesus is mention
whereas Joseph is not mentioned. This strengthens the idea that
Joseph was already dead.
You will also note that His brothers were with Him in this
they were not believers at this time.
Verse 12 also says that His disciples were with Him. In all
likelihood, all twelve of the disciples who would become apostles
were with Him by this time.
(V. 12), "...and they continued there not many days." They
did not stay at
the observance of the Jewish Passover was near at hand and they
all travel together to
II. Going on to
V. 13, "And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up
Jesus is mentioned in this verse as going to Jerusalem, all of
them went together as a group to
were required to go. The women were not required to go, but many
of them always went. Since Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was with
V. 14, "And found in the temple those that sold oxen and
sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting." Jesus was
not surprised by what He found. He had been attending the
Passover celebrations annually since He was 12 years old. As
they entered the temple they came into the Court of the Gentiles.
This was where the animals and the money tables were located.
The bullock, the sheep and the doves were there as a convenience
to the people who came from a distance. They could buy bullock
and sheep for sacrifice. The poor, who could not afford to buy
bullock and sheep, could buy doves. Many of the lambs would be
used to prepare the Passover meal. Each family group would have
The money tables were there so that the people who came from
foreign countries and had foreign coins could purchase Hebrew
coins which were required for paying the temple tax.
From the commercial point of view, it was a great market
place, but it was not a good place to worship. The continuous
movement and noise of both people and animals made it next to
impossible to keep your mind on worship. Movement and noise
distracts. Then, also, there was the stench. It was virtually a
stock-yard with all of the terrible odor of a stock-yard. It was
not at all conducive to worship, especially at the Passover
celebration because the noise and movement was greater than ever.
The reaction of Jesus to all this must have caught everybody
by surprise -- even His disciples. Jesus is generally noted as
being a mild-mannered man and that is just exactly what He had
been at the marriage feast in
those temple grounds He became a man of action.
V. 15, "And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he
drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen;
and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables."
Jesus grabbed some rope that was there for the purpose of tieing
around the neck of each animal when it sold and made a whip out
of that rope. He then used that rope to drive out the sheep, the
oxen and the salesmen. He drove them all out. Then He threw the
money from the tables in every direction, the tables and drove
the money changers out of the temple.
V. 16, "And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things
hence..." The doves could not be driven out with the whip. They
were in small baskets with lids. Whenever someone would buy a
dove, he would get the dove in a basket so that he could take to
the priest at the brazen altar. Jesus commanded those who sold
the doves, "Get those birds out of here!" They did. They dared
not do otherwise. They started grabbing up baskets and hurried
out of the temple.
But I want you to take special notice of what Jesus said to
them. (V. 16), "...make not my Father's house an house of
merchandise." John the Baptist had declared Jesus to be the Son
of God. He said, "I saw and bare record that this is the Son of
God." Jesus, likewise, declared that He is the Son of God. He
said, "This is my Father's house. Or to put it another way, He
said, God, the Father in Heaven, is my Father and I am His Son."
V. 17, "And his disciples remembered that it was written, The
zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." The disciples saw all of
this take place and they were reminded of a verse of Scripture.
That Scripture is Psalm 69:9. It said, "The zeal of thine house
hath eaten me up."
What is this Scripture saying? It says that God's people,
the people of
evident at this scene. Thousands upon thousands of people had
come from all over the nation and from the surrounding nations to
would be sacrificed at the brazen altar and thousands of lambs
would be eaten in the Passover meal. A pile of money would be
added to the temple treasurer. They, indeed had a zeal for God.
But their zeal was not used for God. Rather it was used
against God. Their zeal did not please God. Rather it angered
God. It ate Him up. It angered the Son of God on earth and it
angered God the Father in heaven.
IV. The demand of a sign by the Jewish leaders
V. 18, "Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign
showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?" The
Jewish leaders wanted to know by what authority Jesus was doing
these things? By what authority did He disrupt the things they
had arranged and by what authority did He take over the affairs
of the temple?
That sounds like a reasonable question at first. Doesn't it?
It is not! It is not at all! God had already given them a sign
and John the Baptist had told them about it. God had told John
the Baptist that the man upon he would see the Holy Spirit coming
down in the form of a dove, that man is the Christ. He is the
Son of God. John the Baptist had already announced to the people
They did not see the sign, but John did and John had told them
about the sign. They just did not believe the sign that God
V. The sign which Jesus promised
Jesus would not give them another sign -- at least not
immediately. But He did promise them a sign that they would see
in the near future. V. 19, "Jesus answered and said unto them,
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." What
Jesus actually did was to speak to them a riddle. For right now,
they would not understand its meaning.
The Jews responded in keeping with what they thought He was
talking about. V. 20, "Then said the Jews, Forty and six years
was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three
days?" They thought He was crazy. How could He possibly rebuild
a temple in three days that had taken 46 years to build?
V. 21, "But he spake of the temple of his body." Jesus was
not talking about the temple in which the Jews worshipped and at
which they made their sacrifices. He was talking about the
temple of His body. They would kill His body and in three days
He would raise it up again. He would come back from the dead.
They thought He was crazy because they thought He was talking
about raise the temple building up in three days. If they had
understood what He was really talking about, they would have
really thought He was crazy!
The point is that they wanted a sign showing that He had
heaven's authority to do what He was doing in the temple. The
already had a sign. The Holy Spirit had come down in the form of
a dove and John the Baptist saw and bare record that Jesus is the
Son of God. They had refused to believe that sign and they would
not be given another sign for three years. Three years from this
time He would cleans the temple again and they would again demand
a sign. It would be at that time that the promised sign would be
given. They would destroy the temple of His body. They would
crucify Him and after three days He would come forth from the
Even then they would reject that sign and continue to reject
Him as the Christ.
V. 22, "When therefore he was risen from the dead, his
disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they
believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said." Even
the disciples did not understand the riddle at this time. It
would not be until after His resurrection from the dead that they
VI. The scene at the temple
Let me direct your attention back to the scene at the temple.
Before Jesus arrived business was booming. The sale of animals
was going strong and the lots of Hebrew coins were being sold at
a nice prophet. The temple officials were going make a pile of
Then Jesus arrived on the scene and pandemonium broke loose.
Jesus was angry. He was very angry. He was angry at their sin.
They had a great show of religion, but without repentance of
their sin and without acceptance of Him as the Son of God. God
the Father in Heaven was angry and God the Son on earth was
angry. He unleashed His angry upon them with the whip that He
had made out of ropes and with the angry outbursts which He spoke