13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22 After 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.
I remember as a child in Mississippi City, Mississippi (Between Gulfport and Biloxi), playing a Bible board game loosely based on Monopoly. If I remember correctly, instead of going to jail as one would in Monopoly, in the Bible game one would be sent to the ‘den of robbers’.
Jesus accused the people selling their goods in the temple of turning God’s House into a den of robbers. (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19). I guess the board game felt the ‘den of robbers’ was not the place for a proper Christian third grader. Oh well.
The temple was bound to become a place of money changers. To atone for sin or to follow purification rites, people would have to buy some type of animal to sacrifice as a sign of their sorrow and the like. Convenience would dictate that you buy the needed animal at the site of your sacrifice.
I would guess if this was today’s world, one would order the necessary item from Amazon for overnight delivery. I am not saying Amazon is a den of robbers.
I believe Jesus’ anger was not so much directed at the moneychangers as it was directed at the system which created the need for the moneychangers.
That system needed to be changed.
Jesus gives a glimpse into how the system will be changed when he states, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
The temple system was based on continual sacrifice. As long as that system was in place, the moneychangers would continue to be a part of this system.
Jesus changed the system when he went to the cross and rose again three days later. Although the temple as a building would not be destroyed for another 37 or so years, Jesus death and resurrection effectively changed the system forever.
No longer would the temple be a den of robbers. No longer would people need sacrifice to appease the guilt of their sin. No longer would third graders in Mississippi City need to worry about being sent into the den of robbers.
God in his love took care of these things in Jesus Christ!
Pastor Ricky Adams
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California