John 2:13–22 (ESV) — 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
1) THE FIRST FLOOR IS THE TEMPLE
John 2:13–14 (ESV) — 13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.
The first floor was built around Temple life in Jerusalem.
• And in our text today, John 2:14, John is referring us to the hieron which denotes the area surrounding the temple, particularly the outer courts, not the temple proper.
Among other things, life on the first floor consisted of animal sacrifice:
• In John 2:14, we see the presence of merchants who sold animal’s for sacrifice.
• This practice was firmly established and rooted in the OT.
• Numbers 28:16–23 (ESV) — 16 “On the fourteenth day of the first month is the LORD’s Passover…19 but offer a food offering, a burnt offering to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, and seven male lambs a year old; see that they are without blemish; 20 also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil; three tenths of an ephah shall you offer for a bull, and two tenths for a ram; 21 a tenth shall you offer for each of the seven lambs; 22 also one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you. 23 You shall offer these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a regular burnt offering.
And it consisted of financial sacrifice:
• In John 2:14, the money-changers’ job was to exchange Greek and Roman money for the Jewish half-shekel.
• The half shekel was the annual tribute of each Jew to the Temple.
o Exodus 30:13 (ESV) — 13 Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to the LORD.
The money exchange services and the availability of animals for sacrifice were “especially for worshippers coming from a distance, it was a convenience and a service to be able to purchase them on site instead of having to bring them from afar” – D.A. Carson.
• At the period of time our text takes place, the money-changers and the selling of animals for sacrifice were in the outer court (hieron) of the Temple.
• This was apparently a recent development and it was done for convenience.
• Prior to this, all this necessary Temple business was conducted outside of the Temple.
So this was the scene as it presented itself to Jesus when He entered the hieron.
• And as we are about to see, it was a scene that Jesus, with His ministry officially underway, had a serious problem with.
Jesus Enters the First Floor:
• I don’t know about you, but I am mighty comfortable in the first floor of my house.
• I have my favorite chair and Lisa has her favorite couch.
• We have the rooms arranged just the way we want them.
• We have the frig stocked with all the things we like to eat and drink.
All that the Jews had ever known and liked about their “1st floor” was about to radically change.
John 2:15–16 (ESV) — 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
Apparently, Jesus’ didn’t like what had become of the 1st floor of His house:
• “Instead of solemn dignity and the murmur of prayer, there is the bellowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep. Instead of brokenness and contrition, holy adoration and prolonged petition, there is noisy commerce…Jesus ‘demonstration in the temple’ was ‘an attack on the whole of the financial arrangements for the sacrificial system’, and thus an enormous threat to the priestly authorities” – D.A. Carson.
It’s at this point that the disciples make a connection with Jesus’ actions and the OT.
John 2:17 (ESV) — 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
• This OT text comes from the Psalms.
o Psalm 69:9 (ESV) — 9 For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
• “Jesus’ cleansing of the temple testifies to his concern for pure worship, a right relationship with God at the place supremely designated to serve as the focal point of the relationship between God and man” – D.A. Carson.
POI – The zeal of Jesus for the purity of the Temple was clearly evident to the disciples, but “the manner by which Jesus will be consumed” was, as we will see, not understood at this time by the disciples.
But for now, we come to the stairway (I use this as a purposeful allusion to our Jacob’s Ladder lesson a few weeks ago) to the 2nd floor; a new floor.
• And I think it is prudent that it was Scripture (Psalm 69:9) that leads us to this stairway to the 2nd floor!
• For it was Jesus’ fulfillment of this zeal that brought us to one of the ultimate questions we all must ask about Jesus.
• The question is simply, “On whose authority does Jesus operate”?
John 2:18 (ESV) — 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
• Apparently, these Jews were representatives of the Sanhedrin or temple authorities.
• As such, it would have been their duty to question Jesus on His actions in the Temple.
• They wanted to know on what authority He had cleared the Temple.
• It is also interesting that they did not have Him arrested right away.
Scripture brought us to the stairs, but it was Jesus words that take us to the 2nd floor itself.
• We see His words, an answer to the Jews’ question about authority, in verse 19.
2) THE SECOND FLOOR IS JESUS
John 2:19–21 (ESV) — 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
POI – John’s Gospel is telling us that this scene took place 46 years from when the Temple rebuild began.
• We know from a number of sources that Herod began to rebuild the Temple about 20-18 B.C.
• So if the numbers don’t add up, we have a problem.
• But as is always the case, the inerrancy of the Bible is left intact.
• 46 years after from 20-18 B.C. is about 27-29 A.D which is exactly where we need to be.
So back to our point; as we learned last week, Jesus speaks on many levels and here is no different.
• We need to see what Jesus may have meant both by “destroy this temple” and “I will raise it up”.
• And as expected, there are a couple of levels to be found – remember, Jesus is Deep.
His answer seems to speak to the following 2 levels (from John Piper):
• (1) He seemed to telling the Jews that the corruption of the Temple has destroyed it.
o “Destroy this temple” as in you guys are, have, and will destroy it by your own actions.
o And of course, literally it would fall under the wrath of God and be destroyed by the Romans around A.D. 70.
• (2) On a deeper level of destruction, He seems to be saying that the “same materialistic deadness to spiritual reality that destroys this temple will destroy me. Just like you kill worship in the temple with your consumerism and materialism, you will kill me. I and my Father are one. If you destroy his house, you destroy me. If you treasure money more than my Father, you will treasure my destruction—and buy it with 30 pieces of silver” – John Piper.
o The Jews will reject Jesus as Messiah and crucify Him, in part because He pointed out this corruption of the “first floor”.
And what about the meaning behind His statement, “I will raise it up”?
The answer to this question is also revealed in 2 levels and the 2nd deeper level brings us to the new, 2nd Floor established by God Himself in Christ Jesus:
• (1) Jesus is declaring that He does in fact have the authority.
o John 10:17–18 (ESV) — 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
o So on whose authority has Jesus “cleared” the temple and on whose will He raise it up? His own.
• (2) Jesus has symbolically foreshadowed that He will replace the old Temple (the 1st floor) and “become the new ‘place’ where everyone may meet God and fellowship with God” – John Piper.
o D.A. Carson puts it like this, “His death as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb would render the Jerusalem temple obsolete; and His resurrection as the triumphant Lord would lay the foundation for a new, spiritual temple in its place—namely, the church.”
Interestingly, the Jews have no idea what he is talking about on either level and sadly throughout Jesus ministry, most of them never did.
• And John readily admits that the disciples had no idea of the 2nd deeper level we just discussed.
• John 10:22 (ESV) — 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
o This is why we say He foreshadowed this deeper truth, because it was a truth that was not fully known until His resurrection.
o Not fully known, because in a sense, it was not even fully possible until Jesus death on the cross.
Lesson for Us:
Do we recognize the authority of Jesus Christ?
Do we accept His authority and invitation to live life on the 2nd floor or do we continue to live life on the 1st floor?
• A life based on works and obligations instead of faith and obedience.
Even as a believer, what are some ways we continue to live on the first floor; our floor – the one we knew before coming to Christ and so the one we might find familiar and alluring?