Jesus Cleanses the Temple
The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 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. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 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.
- John 2:13-22
I have been reading in different areas of the Old Testament recently and have been trying to make sense of something. The amount of times I am reading of a city being destroyed or the people left with nothing is blowing my mind. The New Testament seems to focus on God's love that we can almost erase, in our minds, the fact that He destroyed many cities and there was a lot of death and destruction. I didn't understand. How could a God who claims to be love cause so much destruction? Well, the answer became so clear to me.
After reading this story of Jesus cleansing the temple again, it reminded me of something all too real. When Jesus enters the temple and it is unclean, He becomes angry. He was angry because what the temple was meant for, it was not. It had become overrun by worldly things, making it unclean. The temple was in dire need of a cleaning. When Jesus arrived, His fury knocked things over making it seem more of a mess. Then, He furthers on by saying that they should just tear down the whole temple. Destroy it? They had put 46 years into the building of it, but it was all wrong. Maybe the structure seemed great, but the things going in it weren't. If it was destroyed, as Jesus called it to be, the humans would've taken 46 years or more, on their own, to build it just the same. Maybe a few minor adjustments would be made that seemed a little off after the first build, but generally it would be made at the same speed or slower and would not change. When Jesus called for the destruction He said He would rebuild it. He would do it in 3 days.
Take a step back. Look in your temple. If you open the doors to Jesus and He saw it for what truly is, what would He do? Have you invited Him in and honestly shown Him all of the things that fill your mind and your heart? Well, I can promise you that once you accept Jesus, life is not instantly easier. Accepting Him doesn't mean an easy life. Actually, it becomes challenging because Jesus wants to make you better. He's too good to leave us where He finds us. He's a transformative God. When your temple is destroyed, generally it will be destroyed by the very things that built it. Your career, friends, family, dreams, and even fears are things that we believe in so much that they begin to build who we are. If these unsteady things are what have built you into the person you are, this is your personal invite to ask Jesus to come into your temple. Ask Him to destroy your temple. No, this is not an easy prayer and honestly even if you don't ask for this, it can still happen. When your temple gets destroyed, with the asking of God or not, ask Him to rebuild it. Place your trust in knowing that He can and will rebuild you. He has to be your foundation, though. You can't still lean toward the things that once built you because then you'll just topple over unwillingly again and again. Why? You were not called to be of the things of this world.
If you're reading this it is for a reason. Jesus has called you into His story. Do you know what that means? Maybe not but have you asked Him? Why do you think that every human is made differently? No two are the same. Each serves a different purpose because they have different gifts given by their Creator. They're meant for a purpose, but when our purpose is routed in Christ we become a part of His greater story. This reminds me of a section in 1 Corinthians:
"For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is there are many parts, yet one body."
- 1 Corinthians 12:14-20 (ESV)
Each of us is called to a body that is far greater than our function. To be called to it is a blessing. If you are called to it you have to know and serve your purpose in it. Jesus came to this earth. He taught us how to live. He submitted Himself to death on a cross as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Now He became the permanent solution to spending an eternity with Him in heaven. Though the last few verses of this story of the cleansing of the temple claim that Jesus was talking about His body, this all the better. Three days of painful silence led to the defeat of death once and for all. Your rebuild may seem painful, sometimes you might question if God is there. Even when we don't see it He's working. Be patient. Know that He is at work.
The conclusion that I have come to for all of the destruction is that when people decide to run from what they were created to be is when God's wrath comes into full. They know who He is and they know they run astray, yet intentionally choose to live a life alone and choose to believe they know better than God. This temple, your temple, can open the doors to the Jesus who already saved you. Let Him clean you, too. Destruction isn't always bad, especially when it is for the greatest story that ever exists.