12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
This passage deals with the second cleansing of the temple. The first cleansing (cf. Jn 2:13-17) occurred at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and this cleansing occurred at the end of His ministry. Israel was a theocracy and the temple was the center of that theocracy.
Then Jesus went into the temple of God
As Jesus entered the outer courts of the temple, there were thousands of worshipers. This was the time of Passover, when Jews from all over Israel would come to worship. The temple was the highest place of Jewish worship.
and drove out all those who bought and sold [both customers and merchants] in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
Many people profiteered by charging excessive fees for sacrificial animals. Money changers charged exorbitant rates to convert currencies. It was not the fact of selling in the temple but the corruption of selling methods that Jesus opposed. By cleansing the temple Jesus confronted degradation of worship at this time.
The driving out of the sellers and their buyers, and the overturning of the tables of the money changers displayed violence on Jesus’ part. This runs contrary to the popular view that Jesus was a wimp. In His Second Coming He will come with war and power.
And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house [the temple] shall be called a house of prayer,’
Jesus combined two quotes, from Isaiah and Jeremiah, to condemn commercialism of the temple. He quoted from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 to show prophecies about how the temple would degrade at the time Israel was to receive the Messiah. This event shows the failure of Israel to know God’s will about the Messiah. The temple itself was supposed to represent the Messiah.
This is a quote from Isaiah 56:7. God designed the temple as a place of prayer.
but you [emphatic] have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
Instead of a place of prayer, people of Jesus’ day made the temple a “den of thieves.” The temple had become a place of extortion. This is the quote from Jeremiah 7:11. Jesus acted in accord with His kingly prerogative.
Indignation is valid in some cases.
People use gimmicks to make money in churches today. This is appalling to God. However, it is valid to raise money as Paul did for the churches.
We often have a distorted idea that Jesus was sweet and non-confrontational. This is error. Jesus was tough when He had to be tough. He called religious leaders snakes in the grass, whitewashed tombs, hypocrites, sons of the devil, and so on. He was not afraid to call a spade a spade. There is a place today for confronting apostasy, gross sin, and other abominations in the church.