John 2:12-23 Zeal For Religion, Or Zeal For God?

by | Apr 18, 2024 | John, New Testament

The Setting

V. 12– During this time, other disciples were called, while the calling of some was confirmed.
V. 13– Passover was one the great three religious Jewish feasts.
Every Jewish male was required to attend this feast.
The visiting pilgrims made the population of Jerusalem swell us to as much as 2 million people.
The Passover– This celebrated God’s deliverance of the Jewish nation from their slavery in Egypt.

I. Holy Hatred Against Religious Corruption Vs. 14-17

A. What Was Right In This Setting

1. Temple taxes could not be paid with Roman or Greek currency.
2. The money changers were local, and provided money exchange to make paying the Temple tax easier.
3. Religious pilgrims traveled from all over Israel to attend these feasts, and to make their offerings for sin. This meant bringing an animal for sacrifice, and traveling a long distance could be difficult with such an animal.
4. Animals were made available for purchase locally; this made worship easier.

B. What Was Wrong

1. The money exchange and the selling of animals was being done in the Court of the Gentiles. This was where God fearing Gentiles were allowed to go and pray.
2. The ruckus of the selling and exchanging was completely disrespectful to those Gentile God fearers. The swap meet like atmosphere prevented prayers and created a carnival like atmosphere.
3. The animals offered to God needed to be without defect, and needed to be inspected by the Temple Priests.
4. Historically, they often found apparent faults with the animals that were brought to Jerusalem, and refused them. They would then offer “pre-approved” animals at an inflated price.
5. High commission rates were being charged for the money exchange.
6. Instead of making the approach to God easier for the people, the temple workers made it harder. Those who were to serve actually hindered true worship of God, and turned it into a business.

C. Jesus’ Attitude And Response

1. Jesus is acting as the Messiah. He has great zeal for the Temple of God.
2. V. 15– He was angry but not out of control. He took time to make a whip, and proceeded to drive the vendors and money changers out from the Temple courts.
3. Jesus cleansed the Temple area a second time during His final week of life.
4. He did not sin. The birds were not released, so the vendors suffered no loss.
5. The animals could be rounded up again, and the money could be picked up.
6. Ephesians 4:26 Be angry, and do not sin.
7. V. 17– Jesus’ actions declared who He was to His disciples.

a. They remembered Psalm 69, a Messianic psalm. (Psalm 69:9)
b. This holy anger from Jesus confirmed to them who He was.
c. Why didn’t the religious leaders didn’t come to the same conclusion?

II. Jesus Answers Spiritual Questions His Way Vs. 18-22

A. Jesus Answers The Religious Hypocrite

1. The Jewish leaders did have authority regarding the Temple area.
2. V. 20- Actually, the Temple had existed before this time, but was being remodeled by Herod to win favor with the Jewish religious leaders.
3. Unfortunately, they had abused that authority and turned the worship of God into a money making opportunity. Hey made worship more difficult and burdensome.
4. Because of their authority, they asked Jesus by what authority He did this.
5. Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts.
6. V. 19– Jesus answers in a rather strange way. It isn’t immediately clear.

a. He speaks truth to them in a metaphorical way.
b. He points to Himself as being greater than that in which they took pride.
c. He gave them an answer that could be discovered later: His resurrection.

B. Jesus Answers (Informs) The True Believer

1. V. 21– The true meaning of His words were not immediately known by anyone.
2. V. 22- To those who believed in Him, it would be another three years before that statement made any sense, but when it did, their faith was made even stronger.
3. NOTE- Followers of Jesus need to cling to what they know, and wait for more insight regarding what they don’t know.

III. Jesus Knows Mankind’s Spiritual Inclinations Vs. 23-25

A. The Seeming Upside

1. During this Passover feast, the people were looking for a Deliverer.
2. The people were attracted to Jesus because of the miracles He did. (not recorded)
3. The common man had his own agenda about what the Messiah should look like.
4. If Jesus was looking for followers, He could have gained many at this point.
5. But Jesus wasn’t looking for easy believism and half-hearted followers.

B. Jesus’ Response To Fair Weather Faith

1. He did not commit Himself to the masses, for He knew their spiritual condition.
2. That doesn’t mean He didn’t love them.
3. But He would not be emotionally moved, driven, or directed by them or by His current popularity.
4. Jesus had stood up to the corrupt religious leaders right in the Temple area.
5. That kind of spiritual courage and bravado made Him extremely attractive.
6. Jesus was on a mission, and the only schedule He followed was the one laid about by His Father in Heaven, and not by the masses.

Question To Consider

1. Do we allow any of our Christian living to become a hindrance to people in coming to Jesus?
The Passover- This celebrated God’s deliverance of the Jewish nation from their slavery in Egypt.

a. Majoring on the minors? b. Embracing unbiblical tradition? c. Stumbling others by sinning?

2. Do you ask spiritual questions with no intention of hearing a true answer from God?

a. Is your mind made up about problematic questions and situations?
b. Is your foregone conclusion putting distance between you and God?
c. Are you willing to follow Jesus based upon what you know as you wait for other answers?
3. Are you a fair weather follower of Jesus? Could Jesus entrust Himself to you?