“So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area…”
John 2:15 (NIV)
Over 20 years ago I went to Ecuador for a month of preaching and teaching. Eager to see some of the sights of the country I made a trip into the heart of the capital city Quito. I was so impressed by the buildings and the people.
What was the most impressive building was a temple and legend had it that when the building would be complete Jesus would return. Now the building had been developed over many years. It continued to have more and more added statues, gargoyles and other fixtures to keep the construction going because Jesus has not yet come.
At the front of the grand structure there was a large terrace or flat courtyard. Here many vendors were busy selling their holy objects especially blessed by some priest or other. Certainly the sellers of these items made a profit but it is questionable if the ones buying the products gained anything. As I entered the massive building through doors 10-12 feet high I was struck by the enormous oil paintings on the interior walls.
One of the oil paintings depicted Jesus cleansing the temple as described in our passage for today (John 2:13-17). Apparently no one saw the irony in having such a large painting just inside the temple when people in the front courtyard were doing exactly what Jesus forbid in His Father’s House so long ago.
In Jesus’ time the temple with all of its courts and buildings occupied some 20 acres. Herod the Great had built this building using white limestone blocks some of which were thirty feet long, eighteen wide and twelve feet thick. It was a spectacular sight when one came in sight of the holy city. It stood on a prominence and that elevation gave it a very distinct majesty.
For a single man to enter one of the courts and be able singlehandedly to drive out hundreds of animals and merchants is truly remarkable. It was indeed a most bold and aggressive action on His part. He was not mild on this occasion.
Jesus had referred to Himself as meek or gentle (Matthew 11:29), but there is no record of Him being called mild. This passage of Him cleansing the temple makes it clear that He was and is Someone before Whom we ought to bow in submission. The merchants in the temple area were called robbers by Jesus. What the Lord truly desires is our hearts, our submission to Him and His will.
Jesus can be mild with those who are hurting and need strength and comfort. He willingly comes where He is invited to minister grace, forgive sins, and strengthen people for the burdens of life. However, where people only seek to put money into their pockets from religious activities, Jesus will reject them swiftly as He did those in the temple area.
Jesus came to call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32) and He calls ever so gently and tenderly. If you are in need of forgiveness and will come to Him today, He will show Himself compassionate and forgiving.