great first miracle of our Lord has just taken place. Following it we read:
John 2:12 ‘After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother,
and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.’
was a place of blessing but also a place of judgment: Matthew 11:23. And
which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty
which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained
The timing is important. It was the First Passover of
the three years of Christ’s public ministry. Note it is not called ‘The Lord’s
Passover’ (Ex 12: 11) as it really ought to be, but rather ‘The Jews’
Passover’. Its spiritual significance had been swallowed in carnal, racial and
ONE: THE FINDING OF CHRIST
2:13,14. And theJews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the
changers of money sitting.
we have the first finding of Christ’s public ministry. The things which Jesus
found are most important. The disciples had been through the temple many times
but they did not seem to be in any way struck with the apostasy indulged in
there. But Christ did! The disciples were blinded. Christ’s eyes were wide
open. He saw the apostasy. The Old Testament denunciations were fastened in
His mind, memory and heart. He found those who made themselves at home in
God’s Holy Temple in order to pollute it. As Dean John W Burgon remarks:
sheep and oxen were kept for the purpose of sacrifice. The doves were the
offerings of those who came to be purified; especially of the poorer sort of
people. The changers of money found their gains in supplying those strangers
and foreigners who came up, in great numbers, to worship at Jerusalem on these
occasions, and brought with them the money of other countries, in order to purchase victims for sacrifice; according to the
express direction of the Lax: The payment of “tribute”, ‑ that is, the
tax of a half‑shekel which all contributed towards the support of the
Temple, ‑ must have also supplied these “changers of money” with
"scourge of small cords” was not the instrument, so much as the emblem of
His wrath. It is manifest that such a Weapon must have been powerless in other
hands; certainly, it would have been inefectual to produce the mighty results
here noticed. But CHRIST wrought a miracle on the present occasion: not on
lifeless matter, as at Cana, but on the ‑ hearts and minds of His
rational creatures. Armed with that scourge, men beheld in Him a type of the
Vengeance which will at last overtake the wicked. The traffickers in the
Temple, panic‑stricken, fled before the awful presence of Him, in whom
they nevertheless had not eyes to discern their future Judge. And surely the
spectacle is one which it will do men good to seek to realize to themselves.’
(From Burgon on John’s Gospel)
The temple was supposed
to be the centre of purity. At the Passover the searching for and casting out
of all leaven was strictly adhered to. Not so in the Temple. What was the sin
practised publicly here? It is the worst form of covetousness, which is
idolatry. What with the Scriptures? 1Cor 5 :6‑8 Your glorying is
not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge
out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.
For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the
feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness;
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote unto you in an
epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the
fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with
idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
Christ found in the Temple covetousness which produced idolatry of the most
diabolical kind Col. 3:5: Mortify therefore your members which are upon the
earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil
concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Hear God’s Word,
‘Covetousness which is idolatry’. What a picture of Judaism is here portrayed:
A Depraved Priesthood ‑ John 1:19‑26 And this is the record of
John, when the Jews sent
and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and
denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then?
Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he
answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an
answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of theyself? He said, I am the
voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they
which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him,
Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that
prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth
one among you, whom ye know not;
A Desecrated Temple John 2:16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these
things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.
the Lord spoke truly of their Temple as made by them a “DEN OF THIEVES”.
TWO: THE FATHER OF CHRIST
Lord Jesus saw the blow that was being struck at the House of His Father. This
was a unique characterisation of the Temple. No one before had ever defined it
as the Father’s House. Moses did not term The Tabernacle, the Father’s House.
Solomon did not term the Temple, the Father’s House. The people of
Zerubbabel’s day did not term the reconstructed Temple, the Father’s House.
Ezekiel did not call the Temple he described as the Father’s House.
Lord Jesus, the Only Begotten Son, was the only One who could do it. Only one
man, the God‑man, saw the honour of the House and the One to whom it
truly belonged. Only one man was determined that His Father’s Honour would be
indicated and His House purged.
is a side of Christ’s ministry which has been ignored in this ‘lovey dovey’
ecumenically corrupt age. The Lamb is not only the Redeemer but the Ruler.
The Lamb had wrath as well as mercy.
Over and over again Christ speaks of the Father ‑
the Father’s business ‑ the Father’s House ‑ the Father’s works ‑
the Father’s chosen ones, the Father’s Glory the Father’s Son and the Father’s
reward. It was these which motivated His zeal for the vindication of the
Father’s law and reverence of His House.
THREE: THE FURY OF CHRIST
Lord did not ignore what He had seen. He did not turn a blind eye on it. He
did not say they have been like this for centuries. He was instead furious
with the Holy Fury of a Thrice Holy God. So He prepared Himself for war, a
holy war against evil practices. He made Himself a scourge of small cords.
Note, this was a weapon of His very own devising. Man made weapons cannot beat
down man‑made sins and crimes.
strength of the weapon lies not in the strength of that weapon but rather in
the strength of the warrior who wields the weapon.
the emphasis on the small cords. If the small cords wielded by Christ
can do such damage what will not His strong cords do? Who can abide the day of
His coming? To quote Dean Burgon again!
drove out the sheep and oxen. He hurled to the floor the money of the changers
and turned over their tables. He made them seats too hot to sit on. As for the doves, Christ did not drive them out for
He, as the Messiah was prophesied to deal “prudently” Is 52:13 Behold, my
servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very
the distinction. The oxen and sheep were cleared out. They were in no danger
of being lost. The money of the changers could be gathered up. The doves He
ordered to be taken away so that not one of them would perish. What a perfect
example of how Christ in judgment protects the weak.
FOUR: THE FOCUS OF CHRIST
these things hence; make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.’ It was
written, ‘The zeal of Thine House hath eaten me up’. John 2:16‑17. The
Psalm 69 from which this is quoted contains many prophecies concerning Christ.
These are quoted in, compare: Ps 69:4, John 15:25, Ps 69:21, John
19:28, Ps 69:22, Rom 11:9+10, Ps 69:25, Acts 1:20.
is a simple fact that the Greek NT quotes sometimes from the Hebrew Scripture
but alters the words. If we believe that throughout the Scriptures we have the
words of God and not of man all difficulties vanish. The Divine Author can
apply His own words in His own way. God is free with what are totally His
Words. Hence when they are applied in one set of circumstances they may be
different when applied to another. Failure to recognize this is the cause of
the so called “discrepancies” and “difficulties”. They are man manufactured.
we have the focus of Christ. He focuses in with zeal to the task of purging
the Father’s temple. Righteous zeal has swallowed Him up. Oh to have a
baptism of His zeal as we move to purge God’s House!
FIVE: THE FORETELLING OF CHRIST
2:18‑19: Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest
thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said
unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
humbling of the law breakers led to this expression of hate from the would‑be
law makers. They demanded a sign. He gave them the sign, the doctrine of the
Christian Gospel. The Resurrection. Remember on another occasion: Matthew
12:38‑40: Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees
answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee But he answered
and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a
sign; and there shall no sign he given to it, but the sign of the prophet
Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so
shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the
answer which Christ gives here in John 2 is enlarged upon in Matthew chapter
12. It is of course the same promise. The highest possible claim is made in
this answer. He promises He will raise up Himself from death. It should be
carefully noticed that this statement of Christ was a ground of the accusation
brought against Him when He was tried before Pilate.
26:59‑61 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council,
sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea,
though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two
false witnesses, And said This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of
God and to build it in three days.
had a special reason to put this on the record and put the record straight. The
unbelieving Jews made their answer: John 2:20-21. Then said the Jews, Forty
and six years was this temple in building; and wilt thou rear it up in three
days? But he spake of
the temple of his body.
THE FAITH OF CHRIST
2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine
house hath eaten me up.
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.
was only after the great transaction of the bodily resurrection of Christ took
place that the disciples remembered and believed.
is the Holy Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 10:8‑13. But what
saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is,
the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy
mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him
from the dead, thou shalt be saved 10: For with the heart man believeth unto
righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the
scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is
no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich
unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord
shall be saved
is the Faith that justifies. This is the Faith which satisfies. God the Father,
God the Son and God the Holy Spirit and the justified sinner. It is the Faith
SEVEN: THE FINALITY OF CHRIST
2:23‑24: Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast
day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But
Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
cannot know the thoughts and intents of the hearts of man. Only God can know
that. That is in the power of God and in the power of God alone. God does not
require a witness to inform Him. He does not need any help. He has all
wisdom. The heart of man was made by God Himself and it every countenance and
use is studied by Him.
best for us is decided by Him and Him alone. Listen to these words spoken to
Peter. Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and
when thou art converted,
did not commit Himself unto them because he knew all. Christ did not
commit Himself unto them because what He knew was a warning to all. Christ
did not commit Himself because He knew what was in them all. We need to
compare this verse with I Kings 8:39‑40 and heed it with all our soul and
mind and might.
Kings 8:39‑40 Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and
forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou
knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the
children of men;) That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the
land which thou gavest unto our fathers.