13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
In concluding our study of this passage, I wanted to focus for a few moments on two verses, seventeen and twenty-two.
I am sure that when this incident happened, there were onlookers who were puzzled, and wondered what in the world was going on, and why. John is our helper again, here, and tells us exactly why!
17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
What we find in these two verses are two signs proving that Jesus is not only someone who can perform miracles, but that He is the One promised to Adam, and He is the hope of every Jewish person since. Although they didn't understand at the time, these verses prove the Messiahship of Christ.
Here is some background . . . there was a commandment for every Israelite man over 21 years old to pay a temple tax. We can find the rules for this in Exodus 31:12-16, and it's mentioned again in Matthew. But they couldn’t use the "coin of the realm"; they had to use a special one, and they could only get it from the temple. Now, the money-changers in the temple knew this and they sold this coin for a huge profit. These money-changers were practicing extortion -- and right inside the temple!
Notice that He doesn't drive out only those money-changers, but He drives out all the animals, too. We can imagine Him standing for a moment inside the now-quiet temple, with His disciples looking on from a few feet away . . . his next remark is not lost on them -- it's part of a prophetic Psalm well-known to every Jewish person, whether young or old.
I'd like for you to pause and turn to Psalm 69 and read it carefully -- this is a Psalm of the promised Messiah. It details His suffering and the words of verse 17 are contained in it. So, as they looked at Him, standing in the temple, His disciples recalled that Psalm, and it bolstered their faith.
The others? The ones driven out? Not so much.
They asked Him, by what authority do You do this? You and I can't imagine asking this of Him, right? But they did. And His answer amazed them -- and provided yet another proof, one that would be remembered three years later, by the disciples. Here's what He said . . .
19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21But he spake of the temple of his body.
The people who asked Him that, must have looked at each other and rolled their eyes. They just didn't understand, and to them, His words seemed a little bizarre. But later, as John says, His disciples would understand that He meant it as a reference to His own body. Let's dig into the words, because there are some gems here for us if we dig!
The word that Jesus uses that is translated "destroy" is actually an imperative word in the Greek -- by that we mean that it's a command; it carries some urgency with it. He is not just prophecying what they will do -- He is actually commanding them to do it.
Next, He doesn't just use a word that means "temple" even though it is translated that way. He uses another word that is quite specific -- it means the portion of the temple where sacrifices are offered....He is referring to the Holy Place!
OK, take a rest from digging and let's pull some things together. Jesus did something that reminded his disciples of Psalm 69. Then He called His own body the Holy Place, where atonement for sins would be found. Wow! They had asked Him for proof, for a sign. He did more than that . . .
22When 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.
In the midst of His ministry, in the midst of what must have been so frustrating and provoking, in the midst of what would be three years of people showing faithlessness and unbelief, He provided them with proof of His Sonship and His being the long awaited Messiah. And on top of that, He provided them with proof before they needed it . . . as all-knowing God, He knew that one day they would be huddled in a room, scared that the authorities would come and take them away to be jailed or killed, and that this would be something they would remember. It would be something to hang on to -- something they could believe in. They would go on to change the world for His glory.
We can see that they didn't "get it" right away, but they did eventually. What an awesome God to plan and provide salvation, and then to plan and provide proof for their fledgling faith!