Spring Cleaning at Church

Spring Cleaning at Church

Spring Cleaning At Church

(John 2:12-25)

Introduction:(Mention Memory of church work days in the spring and before homecoming)

1. In an introductory way, let’s think about The Timeframe Of This Situation.

a. This Took Place At The First

Though Jesus thus purified the temple at the commencement of his ministry, yet in three years the same scene was to be repeated. (See Matthew 21:12.) And from this we may learn:

1. How soon people forget the most solemn reproofs, and return to evil practices.

2. That no sacredness of time or place will guard them from sin. In the very temple, under the very eye of God, these people soon returned to practices for which their consciences reproved them, and which they knew that God disapproved.

3. We see here how strong is the love of gain-the ruling passion of mankind. Not even the sacredness of the temple, the presence of God, the awful ceremonials of religion, deterred them from this unholy traffic. So wicked men and hypocrites will always turn “religion,” if possible, into gain; and not even the sanctuary, the Sabbath, or the most awful and sacred scenes, will deter them from schemes of gain. Compare Amos 8:1-5. So strong is this groveling passion, and so deep is that depravity which fears not God, and regards not his Sabbaths, his sanctuary, or his law.

(From Barnes’ Notes)

b. This Took Place At The Feast

(John 2:13) And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

If our former computations are right - and, in the nature of things, it is impossible to be absolutely certain about exact dates - and John began his preaching in the autumn of the year 779 from the building of Rome, or in 26 of our present reckoning, while Jesus was baptized in the early winter following, then this Passover must have taken place in the spring (about April) of the same year. (Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”)

2. In an introductory way, let’s think about The Transition Of This Situation.

a. The Earlier Scene Of Joy(The wedding in verses 1 thru 11)

No two scenes can be more different than the two recorded in this chapter: … the one manifesting the love and sympathy of Jesus, His power to ennoble all human relationships, and His delight in ministering to need and bringing gladness, and the other setting forth the sterner aspect of His character as consumed with holy zeal for the sanctity of God’s name and house. Taken together, one may say that they cover the whole ground of His character, and in some very real sense are a summary of all His work.

We may well take the lesson, which no generation ever needed more than the present … that Christ Himself would not have been the Joy-bringer, the sympathising Gladdener which He manifested Himself as being in the ‘beginning of miracles in Cana of Galilee’ unless, side by side, there had lain in Him the power of holy indignation and, if need be, of stern rebuke. Brethren, we must retain our conception of His anger if we are not to maim our conception of His love. There is no wrath like the wrath of the Lamb. The Temple court, with the strange figure of the Christ with a scourge in His hand, is a revelation, which this generation … sorely needs. (A. Maclaren)

b. The Evident Scene Of Judgment(The wrath in verses 12 thru 25)

(1 Peter 4:17) For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

3. In an introductory way, let’s think about The Temple In This Situation.

a. The Location Involved In The Cleansing

[Our English word “temple” includes two Greek words; namely, 1. The naos, or [121] sanctuary – the small structure which contained the holy and most holy places, and which answered to the tabernacle used in the wilderness. 2. The heiron, or entire court space which surrounded the naos, and which included some nineteen acres. The heiron was divided into four courts, and as one entered toward the naos from the east, he passed successively through them, as follows: 1. Court of the Gentiles; 2. Of the women; 3. Of Israel; 4. Of the priests. It was in this outer or Gentiles’ court that the markets described in this section were held] (J. W. McGarvey)

b. The Leaven Involved In The Cleansing

Note that John says this occurred at a Passover feast. Doubtless he wants to remind us that at the Passover, every Jewish household spent the day before the feast meticulously going through their house seeking out any kind of yeast or substance that could cause fermentation and cleansing every such manifestation from their home. That was an absolute necessity in order to properly celebrate the Passover. Yet in a city that was given over to cleansing every house, when Jesus came into the temple, the house of God, he found it filled with clutter and noise, dirty-smelling animals, moneychangers and merchandise, and no one seemed concerned about it. But our Lord was.

(Ray Stedman)

I. Let’s Consider The Detestable Merchandise On Cleaning Day

A. Notice The Business Practices In This Market

(John 2:16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

merchandise – Greek 1712. emporion, means a mart (“emporium”). Example: Blackstone Furniture Emporium

1. There Was Greed In The Changing Of Currency

Sir Fred Catherwood said, “Greed is the logical result of the belief that there is no life after death. We grab what we can while we can however we can and then hold on to it hard.”

Walter Bagehot said, “Honor sinks where commerce long prevails.”

Mohandas Gandhi said, “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”

Ann Kent said, “Grief and greed are as inextricably entwined as love and marriage should be.”

Not only was he angry at the confusion, the clutter, the noise, and the smells, but primarily he was angry at the extortion and racketeering that was going on. Once a year, every Jewish male had to go to the temple and pay a temple tax. (It may be encouraging to us to realize that taxation is nothing new.) There was no escape; every male Jew was required to pay a half-shekel tax at the Passover season. Further, that tax could not be paid in Roman or Greek coin but had to be paid in a special temple coin. So it was necessary to change the Roman or Greek coins that were commonly employed into this special temple tax. That in itself was fine; moneychangers were required for that. Having them available for the people was a convenience that was right and proper. But what was wrong was that there was an exorbitant price being extorted for making this exchange, so that sometimes almost as much as half of the value of the money being exchanged was paid to the money-changers for their service. The temple was making enormous revenues from this practice. At Passover season sometimes as many as two million people were in the city of Jerusalem, so there was a tremendous racket going on.

(Ray Stedman)

(A month before the feast of Passover) they had stalls in every country-town. (Two weeks before the feast began) the stalls in the country were closed, and the moneychangers henceforth sat within the precincts of the Temple. All who refused to pay the Temple-tribute (except priests) were liable to distraint (dispossession) of their goods.

(Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”)

In 1883 Edersheim said, “Indeed, if we compute the annual Temple-tribute at about 75,000 pounds, the bankers’ profits may have amounted to from 8,000 to 9,000 pounds, an immense sum in the circumstances of the country.”

(Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”)

The Talmud also records the curse, which a distinguished Rabbi of Jerusalem (Abba Shaul) pronounced upon the High-Priestly families (including that of Annas), who were ‘themselves High-Priests, their sons treasurers (Gizbarin), their sons-in-law assistant-treasurers (Ammarkalin), while their servants beat the people with sticks.’

(Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”)

The rebuke of Jesus was addressed to the priests, for the market belonged to them, and the moneychangers were their agents. Edersheim says that this traffic alone cleared the priests about three hundred thousand dollars a year.

(J. W. McGarvey, “The Fourfold Gospel”)

I hope you know you can trust God – but when it comes to handling God’s money, how much can he trust you? (David O. Dykes)

2. There Was Guilt In The Commerce Of Cattle

Furthermore, a sacrifice offered at the Passover season had to be made with an animal without blemish or imperfection. If, for instance, the animal was blind in one eye, if it had a tear in the skin, whatever, it was to be rejected. Scholars have discovered that in those days if someone brought an animal of his own to offer it had to be examined by the priests and it would almost certainly be rejected; the priests would find something wrong with it. (See Edersheim note below.) This meant that the only animals that could be offered were those which were bought from the temple herd that was kept in an open courtyard in the court of the Gentiles. These animals had already been approved by the priests. But again, a tremendously inflated price was demanded for those animals. In fact, a bird could be brought outside the temple for the equivalent of 15 cents of our money, but the same bird, bought within the temple from the authorized purveyors of animals, would cost as high as $15! This barefaced extortion, this demand for money from even the poorest of the poor was what aroused the flaming anger of our Lord. (Ray Stedman)

When an animal was brought, it had to be examined as to its Levitical fitness by persons regularly qualified and appointed. Disputes might here arise, due to the ignorance of the purchaser, or the greed of the examiner. A regularly qualified examiner was called mumcheh (one approved), and how much labour was given to the acquisition … appears from the circumstance, that a certain teacher is said to have spent eighteen months with a farmer, to learn what faults in an animal were temporary, and which permanent.

(Alfred Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”)

B. Notice The Bad Picture Of The Merchants

(Matthew 21:12-13) And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, {13} And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

1. Jesus Described The Hidden Quality Of These Merchants

den – Greek 4693. spelaion, meaning a cavern; by implication it means a hiding-place or resort, cave.

2. Jesus Described The Horrible Quality Of These Merchants

thieves – Greek 3027. leistes; from leizomai (to plunder); a bandit, thug, felon, robber, thief.

The situation had degenerated into some kind of Temple mafia or pirate’s cove. Those who should have been clergy had become crooks, and those who should have been worshippers had become wicked.

II. Let’s Consider The Divine Messenger On Cleaning Day

A. Notice The Prophecy Of The Messenger

(Malachi 3:1-5) Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. {2} But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: {3} And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. {4} Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. {5} And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.

1. This Prophecy Pertains To The Appearing Of The MessengerMalachi 3: 1-2

2. This Prophecy Pertains To The Actions Of The MessengerMalachi 3: 2-5

B. Notice The Preaching Of The Messenger

After Saul had defeated the Amalekites he disobediently kept the flocks for himself.

(1 Samuel 15:14) And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

(1 Samuel 15:22) And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Jesus’ message reminds me in some ways of Samuel’s message.

1. He Demanded The Removal Of The Doves

(John 2:16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

He had driven out the larger animals, but told the merchants to take out the smaller doves themselves. When Jesus comes into the temple of our hearts, He will often purge out the larger defilements and instruct us to remove the smaller.

2. He Declared The Reason For His Demand

(John 2:16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

This doesn’t belong to you He said. It belongs to my Father.

The scene that follows is fascinating, for the Temple guards do not detain Jesus. The priests do not evict Him. The merchants do not fight back. The “Jews,” which Matthew Henry says refers to “the multitude of the people, with their leaders,” merely asked a question.

(John 2:18) Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

It is surprising, that they did not rise up and destroy him at once, a single man, unarmed, and without assistance, having so highly provoked them; the restraint upon them must be his almighty power: nor do they deny what he suggested, that they had made his Father’s house an house of merchandise; nor do they offer to vindicate their profanation of the temple, or object to the purging of it; only demand a proof of his right to do it: and which demand was made, not by the common people, or by the sellers of oxen, sheep, and doves, and the money changers, who were drove out, and had not spirit to rally again; but by the chief priests and elders, the Sanhedrim of the nation, who had the care and government of the temple. (John Gill)

III. Let’s Consider The Disciples’ Memory On Cleaning Day

A. They Remembered Jesus’ Consuming Power In The Temple

(John 2:17) And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

remembered – Greek 3415. mnaomai, means to bear in mind, i.e. recollect; be mindful, have in remembrance.

1. They Were Mindful Of The Context Of Zealhis disciples remembered that it was written

(Psalms 69:9) For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

2. They Were Mindful Of The Consuming Zeal

zeal – Greek 2205. zelos, means heat, i.e. “zeal” (in a favorable sense, ardor; in an unfavorable one, jealousy, as of a husband, fervent mind, indignation, jealousy.

hath eaten me up – Greek 2719. katesthio, means to eat down, i.e. devour, consume.

Jesus was consumed by His zeal for the Father’s house.

Easter is not quite here yet, but we get a glimpse of it as…

B. They Remembered Jesus’ Conquering Power Over The Tomb

In verses 18 thru 21, we have this dialogue and explanation of conversation between the Jews and Jesus where He speaks of raising up the temple of His body as a sign of His authority. But it was not until later that even his own disciples understood this sign.

(John 2:22) 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.

remembered – Greek 3415. mnaomai, means to bear in mind, i.e. recollect; be mindful, have in remembrance.