Zeal For Your House Will Consume Me
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
During the Jewish Passover, many Jews would travel up to Jerusalem to worship God. The worshippers would have to offer unblemished animals for the sacrifice. Some found it more convenient to buy the animals at the temple courts instead of bringing them along on the long journey. Others may have brought animals that failed to pass the test of the Levitical Priests, and had no choice but to buy animals from the sellers at exorbitant prices. It was known that the priesthood had become corrupted as profits from the sellers were also shared with them.
The worshippers had to pay a half-shekel as temple tax. The pilgrims from various places had to change their Roman (and other) currency to the prescribed Tyrian tetradrachma in order to pay the tax. Again, mercenary money changers would provide very unfavourable rates.
With an understanding of the background, we can better comprehend why Jesus cleared the temple. He did not have a problem with the service provided to aid the people’s worship. But he was angry with the corruption of the system, how some merchants were profiting off the worshippers’ devotion, and how the system hindered people’s worship of God.
The Jews did not accuse Jesus of causing public disorder, but demanded to know whether Jesus could perform a miraculous sign to show his authority. Why? Since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews had been told that Jesus is the Messiah. John the Baptist pointed out to the people that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus had never denied who he was either. The Jews just didn’t want to believe Jesus is the Christ. Perhaps they also knew their corrupt practice was wrong, and only God has the authority to change it. So they hoped Jesus could show them the sign that he is the Christ.
Jesus is concerned with our spiritual wellbeing. The disciples were refreshed to see Jesus bringing them back to what they had read from the Old Testament. Jesus' action reminded them of the scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:9) Jesus showed the disciples that he came to clean out the hearts of people. We need zeal to clear our hearts for God. A lukewarm attitude won’t help us get anywhere.
Do we allow Jesus to clear our body, the temple of God? Our body is no longer ours, but purchased by Jesus with his blood.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)
The Jews struggled in their relationship with God as corruption crept into their worship system. What can gradually corrupt our hearts towards God?
We no longer need to access God through a priest. We now enjoy access to God through Jesus, our intercessor. Let us allow Jesus to clear our temple every day. Let us apply the principle, “Zeal for your house will consume me”, as we worship God.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.