It was a Passover to remember. I don’t think there’s any way His followers saw what was about to happen.
They go up to Jerusalem with Jesus, enter the temple courts, and things pretty much look and sound like they always look and sound at this time of year. Oxen lowing, sheep bleating, pigeons cooing, money-changers clanking their coins, and the din of crowds milling about looking for a good deal on an offering that they know is being peddled at extortionate prices.
The sacrifice business had become a big business. Passover pilgrims appreciated the convenience of not having to set aside their own sacrifices in advance of coming to worship. And the manic merchants appreciated the opportunity to turn a profit at the expense of convenience minded worshipers. Yup! Just another busy, pre-Passover day in the house of God.
Until it wasn’t . . .
And making a whip of cords, [Jesus] drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.”
(John 2:15-17 ESV)
I sit back and try to imagine what it must have been like when Jesus cleaned house. Not just the chaos and cacophony of animals being stampeded, tables being uplifted, and coinage being scattered all over the ground, but the shock that came over not only sellers and money-changers and consumers, but the followers of Jesus, as well. Who were they following and what was possessing Him?
But then they remembered that it was written (I underline that in light blue colored pencil–my marking for the Holy Spirit). A scripture comes to mind from their past. A part of a verse in Psalm 69. Don’t know if they knew it was Messianic in nature before, but somehow they knew it applied to this Man they followed now–the One they had identified as Messiah (Jn 1:41), the One they believed Moses and the prophets had written about (Jn. 1:45), the One they followed as the King of Israel (Jn. 1:49).
And their King demonstrated an over-the-top, passion-filled protection for His Father’s house.
Zeal consumed Him. His indignation reached a flash point and it devoured Him. He saw what was being done on the holy hill and He went from zero to sixty almost instantaneously, defending the place where the glory should dwell . . . not where the greedy should sell.
And I think about the zeal our Lord had for His Father’s house and this comes to mind:
In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
. . . you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices
(1 Peter 2:5, Ephesians 2:22 ESV)
Is it too much a stretch to say that we, as the church, are the Father’s house? A dwelling place for the glory of God by the Spirit ? A spiritual house where we are not only a living temple made of living stones, but also, as the priesthood, ministering in that temple? What’s more, where we also assume the role of worshiper, offering our spiritual sacrifices? I’m thinkin’ not?
If so, then is it too much to think that Jesus’ zeal for this living house of God is any less than His zeal was on that Passover day? And that maybe our zeal for the Father’s house–the family of God, the Bride of Christ–should mimic that of our Lord’s. I’m thinkin’ so!
Father, forgive us for doing stuff in Your house that should not be done. That diminishes Your place of worship by making it a marketplace for those who would peddle religion and those who would desire but to consume it.
Jesus, give us zeal for the Father’s house that we would keep it clean. That we would keep it focused. That it would be a holy place as the Father is holy.
Spirit, bring to remembrance all that the house is meant to be. Give us the mind of the Son that we might be the living stones, the holy priesthood, and the acceptable sacrifices the Father is worthy of.
By Your grace. For Your glory.