John 2:13–25 (NKJV)
13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”John 2:13-17
This episode of Divine authority and direction shows us the nature of Jesus Christ and His pure understanding of God’s nature, law, and authority. He cleaned house in the temple, driving out those who would make a living on others’ need to worship. Worship, though, was not the commercial, religious act that it had become in the days Christ walked the earth. Instead, it was becoming a spiritual act, an eschatological worship that no longer needs a sacrifice of bulls, goats, sheep, or birds. Instead, Jesus will be the only sacrifice needed after Calvary. Therefore, these traders need trade no more. Their entrepreneurial enterprise is counter to the actual act of worship to come.
18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”John 2:18-25
19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 Then the Jews 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 of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
When the Jewish leadership asked Jesus where the authority to do such things came from, and requested a sign, Jesus revealed, somewhat cryptically, that they could destroy the temple and in three days He would raise it up. The double meaning, the temple and His body, signified this new genre of worship as well. Kill Jesus on the cross, and in three days He would rise again. Destroy the physical Jewish temple (think of the rending of the curtain before the Holy of Holies), and a new worship would begin, the worship of Christ, the Messiah. The Jews did not understand His meaning, although it is clear to Christians around the world today. Many believed in Jesus because of His miracles and signs, yet He did not join with them, for He knew the fickle nature of man, and He knew that His purpose would see these very people turn on Him. He did what He did as part of His mission, not to please men.
Believe in Jesus for what He is, the Son of God, the sinless sacrifice, the Risen Savior, the soon-coming King. Do not believe Him for the fishes and loaves, for the mighty miracles and acts. Believe in the One Who has the authority to change the culture of worship and bring in a new eschaton of grace and holiness. Jesus is cleaning house. Be part of the righteous that remain.