Cleaning House

by Wayne Greeson

What a thrilling sight it must of been! What holy wrath, vengeance, and zeal He displayed. Jesus strode into the temple. There in the Court of the Gentiles lay an open market. The market was filled with men exchanging foreign currency for Galilean shekels for Jewish pilgrims to pay the Temple tribute and other men selling animals for sacrifice. Jesus made a whip of small cords, and, in righteous indignation, drove before Him the market mob. Out of the temple He chased the men, sheep and oxen, He poured out the money of the changers and toppled the tables. As Jesus cleansed the sacred place of worship, He cried out, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise!" (Jn. 2:13-17).

What stirred up the righteous zeal of the Lord? Some have suggested Jesus was moved to action because those in the temple were greedy crooks. However, Jesus could have seen greedy money changers and crooked merchants on virtually any street corner in Jerusalem. This cannot be the reason Jesus took such drastic action. Jesus did not drive the moneychangers and merchants from the temple for doing business but for doing business in the temple. There was a proper place for business and a proper place for worshipping God. Merchandising was proper in the market but profane in the temple! Jesus declared that the temple was His Father's house (Jn. 2:16; Lk. 19:46). For this reason He cleaned house!

Today God no longer has a earthly building known as His temple. Christ replaced the physical temple with a spiritual one, His church. Christians are "living stones built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).

Sad to say, there are many religious people who have never learned the lesson of Jesus cleaning His Father's house. Today, in many places, church buildings are cluttered with the tables and merchandise of the world as the politicians, businessmen and entertainers ply their goods.

Just as there was nothing wrong with the merchants engaging in business in the day of Christ, there is nothing wrong with politics, business, entertainment, recreation or social activities today. But the church is not the proper organization to provide and support such activities. The spiritual temple of the Lord is to "offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God."

Jesus set forth the mission of His church: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" The mission of the church is far to important, far to urgent, far to holy to profane with the distractions of this world (Matt. 28:19-20).

What if Jesus returned today with a scourge of cords in His hand? What holy wrath, what vengeance, what compelling zeal would move Him. Into the midst of the churches He would stride, turning over the wares of the social merchants, driving out the volleyballs, the guitars, the punch bowls and crockpots. In righteous indignation Jesus would clean house and cry out, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise!"