Spring-cleaning the Temple. John 2:13-22

John 2.13-25

Last week we spring cleaned room 19. Everything is clean and in its right place

Today we read about a spring-clean: a physical clean and a spiritual clean. Jesus goes into the temple and cleans it out.

The temple was at the very heart of the spiritual life of Israel.

And at the physical heart of the temple was the Holy of Holies: the place where God said that his name and his presence would dwell.

The Temple was God’s dwelling place on earth. 

It was the place where men and women came to meet with the holy God: to hear his word, to receive his mercy, to ask him for his blessing, to encounter God.

And for Jesus, the Temple was not just the dwelling place of God on earth. For Jesus, the Temple was the dwelling place of the one he calls, 'My Father' 

The problem was that the people had allowed other things to take the place of God.

They had lost the centre. They had forgotten what this building was all about.

And they had replaced God with trade. They had turned the temple into a market place 

Jesus challenges them, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 


It is not that trade, or business in itself is bad. Far from it.

What is wrong is that here it has effectively taken over the work of the temple.

The whole place has stopped being the house of God, the place where people could meet with God, and it has become a business centre.

Economics, money, is the thing that is driving the whole enterprise.

It is not a surprise that Jesus is angry – very angry indeed.

He comes to cleanse the temple, but he also comes to judge.

By the way, it is not wrong to get angry.

My anger is usually not right. I get angry about things that I should not angry about – because my pride is hurt, or because I haven’t actually discovered all the facts - and I then say stuff or do stuff that is wrong and which I later regret.

But there can be times when it is right to get angry. We speak of 'righteous anger'. And this was one of them.

And notice how Jesus’ anger is controlled. He knew what he was doing when he made a whip of cords and when he drove them out of the temple.

And Jesus had the authority to throw them out of the temple because he himself had come to replace the temple.

He speaks of how the temple will be destroyed, and in three days, it will be rebuilt – and he is speaking about the temple of his body.

Jesus, with the heart of the Father, becomes the living temple. He becomes the one to whom we go if we wish to hear God’s word, receive mercy, receive blessing and meet with God. 

Jesus comes to spring clean the Temple – to get rid of the rubbish, so that God was again at the centre.

The NT writers, as they think on these things, describe the Church, the people of God, as the temple of God – because the Holy Spirit of God is at our centre

And they describe each individual Christian as a temple of God – because the Holy Spirit is living in us.

We’ve just cleaned out room 19. 
The problem is that stuff has a habit of drifting back into room 19, and it fills up again with rubbish.

And in the same way, having become Christians, having asked Jesus to clear us out, we allow other things to creep back into our lives: things like making money, getting stuff, seeking status, giving in to our lusts – and the Holy Spirit is pushed out.

And perhaps as a church, as the people of God here, and as individuals, we need to invite Jesus to come back into the centre of our life – to come in judgement and to come to cleanse us. We need to hear him speak to us: ‘What have you done? You have allowed all the wild beasts back into your heart. You have made my Father’s house a haunt of cackling hyenas” And we need to let him drive those things out, so that we can invite in the Holy Spirit, to be at the very centre of our lives.

And when that happens, we will be people who live and speak the life giving word of God, who show mercy, who offer blessing to others. When the Holy Spirit lives in our centre, then we will be a true temple, we will become the sort of people who – when others meet with us – they meet with God.

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