Lesson 19: Jesus Went up to Jerusalem to Jewish Passover/ Cleansed theTemple
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A Blending of The Four Gospel Records.
This is Lesson # 19 Jesus had left the Jordan and went back into Galilee, attended a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee and then in John 2:12, we were told Jesus went with his mother, brothers and disciples to visit Capernaum. That's where our last lesson ended. So, this lesson begins in John 2:13. The scene shifts from Galilee to Judea and what is commonly referred to as THE EARLY JUDEAN MINISTRY. And, again, John is our only source. So, let's read the rest of John ch. 2, beginning in v13. Are you ready? Here we go! "And the Jews' 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: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and over threw the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest 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. 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. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciple remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. 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, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man."
O.K. back up to v.13. Do you remember the Jews' passover? This was the same annual feast we talked about once before. It commemorated the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt about 1500 years before. It was celebrated each year on the 14th day of Nisan on their calendar; which was always on a full-moon, possibly about April on our calendar. This is the feast that Luke mentioned in ch. 2; when Jesus was 12 years old and got separated form his parents. That was 18 years before the passover discussed here in John ch. 2. And Jesus had likely been to Jerusalem every year since that time. The passover mentioned here (in John) was probably in the spring of A.D. 30, i.e. if you count Jesus' birth as A.D. 0. And, did you notice: the passover "was at hand." (v.13). What does it mean to be AT HAND? I think the meaning here is obvious! And this makes plain what John the Baptist meant in Matt. 3:2 when he preached in Matt. 3:2? "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is AT HAND?" Some think the kingdom hasn't come yet! They're still looking. But, John said the kingdom, like this passcver WAS AT HAND. You may want to make a little note about this on your KINGDOM WORKSHEET.
It might interest you that John mentioned THREE passovers. This one in v.13 is the first. The third passover that John covers is the passover when Jesus was crucified in A.D. 33. So, the passover here in v.13 is exactly three years before that terrible event. Matthew, Mark and Luke mention only ONE passover, the last one when Jesus was crucified. Now, I'm disregarding the passover when Jesus was 12 years old, of course. We've already covered that back in Luke ch. 2. But, besides the passover here in v.13 (apparently in the spring of A.D.30) and that last passover when Jesus was crucified, John mentions one other in John 6:4. THAT is usually assumed to be the passover of A.D.32, i.e. exactly one year before Jesus died. The passover of A.D. 31 is thus skipped over.
As we have said, the passover time on our calendar would have been about April, the END of the rainy season in Palestine, or shortly thereafter. Now, John said here in v.13, "Jesus went up to Jerusalem." And you might note in these verses John skipped over the winter, i.e. the rainy season. But, Jesus likely did a lot of teaching in Capernaum and other places in Galilee during that winter; but, we have no record of that. John does not say that Jesus' disciples went up to Jerusalem with Jesus. But, it is obvious they did. First of all, every adult male Jew was required to go. Secondly, reference is made to disciples in v.17; although, that verse DOES NOT say they were in Jerusalem. Notice how v.13-14-15-16 are all tied together into one big, long complex sentence. How would you like to diagram that sentence? Anyway, when Jesus got to Jerusalem, about 65 or 70 miles due south/ and up hill most of the way, he found something in the temple at Jerusalem that should NOT have been there. Commerce had moved in! Now, see if you can qet a bead on this. During the feast days, Jews came to Jerusalem from everywhere; Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, Achaia, Macedonia and even Rome. This, of course, was a good time for business in Jerusalem. Everybody needed a hotel or a lodging place and something to eat. Some had foreign currency that had to be changed (or exchanged) before they could spend their money locally. Then, what about offering a sacrifice at the temple? Some may have brought their animals along. But, many probably depended upon purchasing their animal for sacrifice on the local Jerusalem market. That made the local sheep market, the ox market and the dove market VERY good. Others merchants may have sold trinkets, pennants, phylacteries or other local crafts. Prices of course depended upon the supply and demand. This in turn created that old game WE CALL competition. So, the temple grounds must have been something like Grand Central Station without a loudspeaker on these feast occasions. And at that time, the temple vas a magnificent structure. The temple grounds covered several acres. It was built on the top of a hill, called Mt. Moriah in the O.T. The hill had been excavated and leveled off in Solomon's day. And although Solomon's temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians and desecrated by others since that time; at the time of Jesus the temple had been largely restored. Herod-the-great had played politics and used public funds to renovate the temple. And his successors in the next 30 years probably continued that tradition. It is said that Herod with the cooperation of the Jews removed the structure to it's foundation about 15 or 20 years before Jesus was born and re-built it from the ground up. Thus, that structure was sometimes identified as Herod's temple. This is the explanation for that 46 years comment down (here) in v.20. The temple itself was relatively small, but there were a number of courts, porches or porticos that sheltered thousands of square feet; with several walkways, gateways, etc. It was undoubtedly in these entrance ways and foyers that the merchants had set up shop. The money changers were essentially a branch bank operated with tables and coffers in these passageways. It was of the commercial mentality which says, take it where the people are. If you give an inch, they'll take a mile. They probably moved in at a creep; but, ultimately they had moved beyond acceptable limits. The captain of the temple and those who were responsible for policing the temple-area were lax in letting the merchants take over the place.
Now, if your concept of Jesus is a docile, country boy from Nazareth who never disagreed or asserted himself; you better adjust your glasses and re-read v.15 again. A scourge was a whip. Can you imagine Jesus slinging and cracking that thing, turning the tables over and yelling: "Take these things hence."?? (v.16), MOVE'EM OUT! Can't you just see those money changers chasing their coins and those doves flopping their wings with excitement? These people knew they were off limits; but, as long as no one forced the issue they just kept chasing that almighty dollar and drifting deeper and deeper into and onto the temple grounds. What does it mean to: TAKE THESE THINGS HENCE? You see, there was nothing wrong in possessing those things. There was nothing wrong with selling sheep, doves or changing money as a vocation. Solomon said (at the beginning of Eccl. ch. 3) that there's a time and season for everything. The temple was simply not the place. So, I get the impression Jesus did this more out of just being a good Israelite than anything else, i.e. up-holding the O.T. Somebody, as it always happens, tried to bring on a little verbal resistance. Hey boy! What right DO YOU HAVE to demand we move? What is it to you! Now, it doesn't say THAT; I'm reading between the lines. But, if your imagination is synchronized with my imagination, you're probably smiling and nodding in the affirmative. Why did they respond to Jesus' orders? The fact that they did, confirms what is said elsewhere: "Never man spake like this man." (John 7:46). You undoubtedly recognize the reality of human nature in these verses. John said these things caused some of the disciples to remember Psalms 69:6, i.e. the last part of v.17 as it is recorded here. That verse expresses God's feeling about those who would commercialize religion. Then in v.18 somebody challenged Jesus with a question. (If I might paraphrase), If you are a prophet, boy; show your badge. Prove it! Give us a sign, i.e. do a miracle! This statement and this attitude is interesting, in that it shows they associated miracles with the divine. And their understanding of the prophets and the messiah, when they came was that they could and would do miracles like the prophets of old. V.19 is Jesus' reply: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." I trust you understand Jesus was making reference to his "hour" that had NOT yet come (back up in v.4 of this chapter). "He spake of the temple of his body..." John says in v.21. Then, V.20, simply shows that most of those who heard Jesus make that statement didn't get the drift that Jesus intended. But, Jesus' disciples remembered this and three years later (after the fact) they were amazed how accurate Jesus' words were. And, possibly Jesus said this, more for the disciples' benefit, than for the merchants and money changers. But, it was a statement that stuck with those Jews. They never forgot it! Apparently, the more they examined Jesus' statement and the more they analyzed in connection with what Jesus said and what they saw; the more it got under their skin. It especially GOT TO and threatened the priests and the Levites and the leaders. Three years later, when Jesus was before the Jewish council and the Jewish religious leaders were groping for straws, trying to find a charge on which to prosecute Jesus and destroy him; they brought up THIS statement. And it was the perversion of Jesus' statement HERE in John 2:19 that they ultimately used as a pretext; and that in the hands of false witness; to kill Jesus three years later. I'm talking about Matt. 26:60-61. And even many years later, when they put Stephen to death, the first Christian martyr; when he was up before that same council; some of these same Jewish leaders came back to Jesus' statement here in v.19 and rehashed it again. Apparently, they had haggled with Stephen over this point, when these things came up in conversation. I mean, it got their attention. I refer to Acts 6:14. They considered it a blasphemous statement. But, the point you want to hang on to here in John ch. 2 is the context in which Jesus made this statement. It was made at a time when they were taunting Jesus to prove who he was. A little bit like Satan's propositions during Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. And ultimately, Jesus' statement accomplished just what he anticipated; when it was rightly applied to Jesus' earthly body in the context that John points out in v.21, i.e. Jesus spake of the temple of his body. Then in v.22, John says THAT with those Jews who did have the right attitude; it had precisely the opposite effect. It caused them to believe the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. It's amazing how the same Bible statement can have exactly opposite effects upon two different persons. There's power in the Word. The writer of the Hebrew letter said (Heb. 4:12), that God's word is sharper than a two edged sword. It can slice between the thought and the intents of the heart.
Jesus did some miracles while he was in Jerusalem on that occasion, v.23 confirms this. Possibly the healing of disease, but we are not told the kind of miracles. The word does have an "s" on it in v.23. John simply said, "many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did." We talked about this before! Why did Jesus do miracles? Well, V.23 is true to the test. They manifested the origin and the identity of Jesus. Look at it close. Some were turned off and some were turned on. That sword called the WORD is capable of doing the slicing. But, HOW it slices, depends upon what is being sliced. Man shall NOT live by bread alone. That's what Jesus told Satan. But, most people want to pick and choose the verses THEY will live by. What does it take Jesus? Every word of God (Luke 4:4).
There's a story told about a man who decided he would solve all his problems by the Bible. His approach was like this: he would close his eyes, open the Bible and place his finger on a passage. It was his conviction to solve HIS problems BY doing whatever that verse suggested. So, he began to deploy his plan. On the first try, his finger just happened to fall upon Matt. 27:5. When he opened his eyes, he read to dismay: Judas "went and hanged himself." Oh! No! he said. Surely not! So, like most people who take verses out of their context; if they don't like the first verse, they keep looking: so, this man decided to try again. He closed his eyes and turned a little further over in the N.T. and tried again. This time his finger fell upon Luke 10:37 where Jesus told the lawyer in the story of the good Samaritan: "Go, and do thou likewise." That's terrible!, the man said. I can't do that! So, GUESS WHAT: (you got it!) he tried again, a few pages further over. This time his finger fell upon John 13:37 which says: "That thou doest, DO QUICKLY." Now, I never heard the rest of that story. I hope that man didn't decide to carry through with his plan. It may just be a made-up story, but it illustrates very vividly the indiscriminate way in which some people use the Bible. Some one has said, a text out of context is a pretext. Jesus told Satan it takes every word and that implies in its context. In the verses we have just covered, the very words of Jesus (John 2:19) when they were taken out of context; ultimately crucified Jesus. But, those people in v.22 who heard Jesus' same words and kept them in their proper context "believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said." Now, I hope I've said enough about this verse to help you remember it.
Then notice in v.24-25, John takes the time to explain that the divine nature of Jesus was such that he had a sort of 6th sense; which enabled Jesus to know what men were thinking. It would seem that His perception went beyond the ordinary senses that operate by light and sound. This may NOT have been readily apparent just in passing; but, to John who spent more than three years with Jesus, this was obvious. So, the point is in v.24-25, that Jesus could recognize the genuine and spot the bogus without even interviewing the person. Thus, Jesus knew when and where to best allocate his time in teaching. He didn't waste time with the perpetrators of fakery and insincerity. There is nothing that makes the Lord sicker than fair-weather disciples. We'll begin ch. 3 in our next lesson. Have a good day.