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What Can We Learn from Jesus Cleansing the Temple?

What Can We Learn from Jesus Cleansing the Temple?

Why did Jesus need to cleanse the temple? According to traditional Jewish law, animal sacrifices were necessary to pay tributes and atone for sin. Money changers popped up and were a regular sight in the Temple out of convenience to the people. But fees for this service were added on and those money changers made an excessive profit that oppressed the poor. They added even more exorbitant prices by bringing in doves, pigeons, cattle, and sheep from afar. People knew their sins needed to be atoned for, but their pocketbooks couldn’t afford it.

God never wanted people to pay for atonement for their sins. Sin already costs so much blood, sweat, and tears. God had another plan to freely give that desperately needed atonement. Let's dive into the Bible story of Jesus cleansing the temple and what it can teach us today.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple Bible Story

Matthew 21:12-17 and John 2:13-22 tell the story of Jesus cleansing the Temple. The two passages may have been two different instances of Jesus cleansing the Temple, but they teach similar principles. When Jesus entered the Temple, He expected to see people praying for needs and people praising and thanking God for His provision. Instead, He saw a marketplace where people were profiting from animals to be sacrificed.

He saw greed and people being taken advantage of. He made a whip from some ropes and chased the greedy salespeople from the Temple. Jesus turned those tables over, scattering coins over the floor. His anger and disapproval were right and just because His Temple was never meant for that. His disciples remembered that the Scriptures said that passion for God’s house will consume Him (Psalm 69:9). The religious leaders didn’t understand what He was doing.

Then Jesus paused when He saw the blind and the lame that had gathered. He went over and healed them. He often stopped on His purposeful journeys to help people. Jesus always thinks of people first. He didn’t come into the world to condemn it; He came to save the people within it. The leaders in the Temple saw these miracles but instead of thanking God, they complained about the children’s praises. Jesus reminded them that the Scriptures say to teach children to praise.

Jesus continued and rebuked the religious leaders. He said that if this Temple was destroyed, He could raise it up again in three days! Those leaders only thought of the physical building of the Temple that had taken forty-six years to build. But Jesus meant the Temple of His own body and the group of people that would believe in Him over centuries. When the disciples thought back to this event after Jesus’s resurrection, they realized how in sync the Scriptures and Jesus’ teachings were. There are four lessons we can learn when Jesus cleanses the temple:

4 Lessons We Can Learn When Jesus Cleanses the Temple

1. Always Pray and Praise: We should pray and praise when we are in the House of the Lord. And since we are the New Testament version of the Temple, we should pray and praise every day of our lives no matter where we are.

The Lord has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He is our helper through all of life’s trials. We pray and He answers with wisdom and peace. Jesus suffered as a sacrifice, so we no longer need to sacrifice animals. His blood washes us white as snow. Therefore, we praise Him! So let us come boldly to His throne of grace where we receive His mercy when we need it most (Hebrews 4:16).

2. People before Money: We should always remember that people come before money. Helping the hurting people who are praying for help means much more than making money. Donations to churches are important to keep them running and they need to run in order to equip believers to live rightly. However, these efforts shouldn’t be put above helping people.

When we seek to love our neighbors as brothers and sisters, it keeps us from committing sin. When we don’t love our neighbors, we become jealous, angry, or bitter, and therefore capable of committing even the most horrendous sins. Love really does cover a multitude of sins. The most important commandments have love at their base: love God wholeheartedly and love your neighbors. God and people are the most important things in this world.

3. The Real Temple Is You: Remember that Jesus is much bigger than any building on this earth. His agenda goes forward when His believers walk in His ways, praise, thank Him, and reach out to help their neighbors.

When you accepted Jesus’s way and salvation, He deposited His Spirit within your heart. Hold that as a sacred trust between you and God. Separate yourself from the way unbelievers live. Live differently. Live for the Lord. Just like Jesus didn’t like the corruption of greedy money changers in His Temple, He also doesn’t like it when you let the pollution of this world get into you.

Self-care has become a buzzword of late. However, if you put too much emphasis on yourself it’s not a good thing. But there is a place for taking care of the temple of your body that houses the Holy Spirit. You wouldn’t walk into a beautiful cathedral and throw fast food wrappers all over the floor. In the same way, protect your body, mind, and spirit and keep them as healthy as possible.

4. God’s Righteous Anger: The last lesson from when Jesus cleanses the Temple is that God has righteous anger. He will only let things go down and dark for so long. When people continue to do what is evil in the Lord’s sight, His anger is provoked, and eventually, He will step in.

God holds back from showing His anger because of His lovingkindness, mercy, and forgiveness. He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and plentiful in mercy as He waits for people to stop their rebellion and come to Him for forgiveness and hope. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. But He won’t wait forever. Eventually, full and complete justice will have to come forth.

He will return one day. No one knows the day or the hour. But He will return. If you are in Christ, this will be a glorious day! But if you’re not, there will only be judged for all your sins because they have not been atoned for.

Conclusion of Jesus Cleansing the Temple

When we apply these principles to our life, we will be full of purposeful joy. We need to get to work because we know the time is coming when Jesus will change everything. Jesus cleanses the temple of our hearts every day. We need to shine His light while there is still hope for all to repent. We need to spread His Good News while there is still time. He is coming soon so blessed are those who obey the words written in the Bible (Revelation 22:7).

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people. Revelation 22:20-21

Further Reading

Jesus Cleanses the Temple Commentary

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/wynnter


headshot of author Jenni HeerenJennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.

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