Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter 8: Jesus Clears Out the Merchants from the Temple   Restitution of All Things
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New Testament Bible Story

Chapter 8:

Jesus Clears Out the Merchants from the Temple

     The apostle John early records a Passover that Jesus
attended in Jerusalem during His ministry. The Temple in
Jerusalem did not only consist of the sanctuary of the
"holy place" and "most holy place" (the Temple, as the original
Tabernacle in the time of Moses, was divided into two sections),
but also had different court-yards around it. It was a very
elaborate building indeed. You may want to take time to read
about it all in a good Bible Dictionary or Encyclopedia.
     It was in one of those court-yards of the Temple that Jesus
found those who were selling oxen, sheep, pigeons, and such
animals and birds, as well as money-changers (for people offering
money to the Temple priests for the service and upkeep of the
Temple, and who came from different parts of the Roman Empire, so
needing to exchange Roman money into Jewish money) used by the
people to fulfil the sacrifices that were prescribed by the laws
of Moses (see the first chapters of the book of Leviticus) under
the Old Covenant.
     The mindset and character of those selling and exchanging
money Jesus knew was far from pure and honorable. They were out
to line their own pockets, to rob the people, to cheat them, to
simply do a business and take advantage of the pure hearts of
the people coming to worship God at the Temple and fulfil the
laws of God as given to Israel through Moses.
     
     This is a good illustration that shows God accepted the
enlarged Temple structure, because the people as a whole accepted
it in their minds, as being and belonging to God and as an
extension of the holy Sanctuary proper. This shows that there is
a "spirit" of the law that goes beyond the "letter" of the law,
which God honors, sometimes even under the Old Covenant. The
original Sanctuary and Temple under Moses and Solomon, only
needed to be a tent or building of one structure divided into two
parts, a "holy place" and a "most holy place" inside just one
fenced area or court-yard. By the time of Christ, the Jews had
extended this building to include a number of court-yards. The
outer court-yard was where the merchants had set up their market
place. To them, and so to God, this was part of the overall
Temple of the Lord.
     Jesus could see that those merchants were making the very
House of God into something it was never intended to become - a
merchant market place for profit. 
     His anger grew more and more as He saw what was going on.
The Bible says, "Be angry, but sin not."  There is a time to
become righteously angry. Many passages show that God can and
does get righteously angry at times. Yet, it is always righteous
anger, without any sin. There are times we must get very upset at
sin and wrong doing. This was one of those times for Jesus.
     
     He made a long whip from string cords that came from boxes
and packages that were sent to those merchants or that were used
to tie up the animals they were selling.  Jesus whirling the whip

around His head, much like an American cowboy whirls his lariat
over his head when roping a steer, drove the animals out of the
temple, and threw over the tables of the money-exchangers, the
coins rolling all over the place.
     As He was doing all this, He raised His voice and exclaimed
to those thieving and wrong minded merchants, "Take these things
away! You shall not make my Father's house into a house of
merchandise and business trade."

     The disciples of Jesus, many of them knowing much of what
was written in the word of God, remembered the verse where it was
written, "Zeal for Your house will consume me" (Ps.69:9).

     But, most of the Jews and merchants there, were not so
perceptive and so spiritually in tune with who the Messiah was or
what were the true ways of the Lord. They just looked at Jesus
and declared, " Who gave you this authority to do this thing,
drive out the merchants from the Temple? What sign will you give
us to demonstrate and prove what you have done has the authority
of God Himself behind it?"

     Jesus answered them by saying, "Destroy this temple, and in
three days I will raise it up."
     Once more the Jews had no idea what He was really speaking
about, and thought He was talking about the physical stone
building of the Temple they were all standing within. They,
laughing at Jesus said, "It has taken forty-six years to build
this Temple, and you say that if it was destroyed you could build
it back again in only three days. You must be out of your head,
vain and mad, by saying such words."
     Jesus was not speaking about the physical Temple in
Jerusalem, but was speaking about the temple of His body. The
Holy Spirit dwelling in Jesus made His body as like a temple of
holiness to God the Father. So it is with anyone who had God
dwelling within them (see 2 Cor. 6:16-18).
     Jesus was indeed giving them a sign of His power and
authority from God. He was foretelling them that one day though
the Jews would kill Him, He would rise from the dead after three
days. He was foretelling them of His resurrection to life and
glory.
     His disciples at the time, did not understand fully what
Jesus was referring to either. It was only after His resurrection
that they remembered those words of His, and clearly understood
then what He had told the Jews. All of this of course, after
Jesus' resurrection, helped the disciples to believe in no
uncertain way, all the Scriptures and all the words that Jesus
had spoken during His ministry.

     Because of the miraculous signs He did in Jerusalem at this
Passover celebration, many people were convinced that He was
indeed the Messiah. Well, in an outward kind of manner they were
convinced. But Jesus didn't trust them. He could see their deep
inner heart and He knew what people were really like, who were
not truly connected with God through humble repentance (John
2:13-25).

     No one for sure, needed to tell Him about human nature, what
it could do and think on the outside surface, but not be that way
in the depth of heart, especially when people would get offended
by what He would say and teach, and the way He would live. And

that is exactly what happened to many, even some of His
disciples, later on. They got offended in Him, upset, bewildered,
and confused, by things He said, and they walked away from Him.
     Though many believed on Him at that Passover, they did not
continue to believe on and in Him later on, as we shall see.

NICODEMUS COMES TO JESUS IN THE NIGHT

     There was a man by the name of Nicodemus, one of the leaders
in the Jewish Sanhedrin (a court of the Jews that decided certain
civil and religious matters, made up of leaders from the Pharisee
and Sadducee denominations, and respected Elders among the Jewish
people), and of the Pharisee religious party. He came to Jesus
secretly, by night, and confessed, " Rabbi, we know that you are
a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you
do, unless God is with him. "

     You will notice, Nicodemus did not say that they, leaders of
the Jews and leaders from his religious party, knew and admitted
that Jesus was the very Son of God. What he said was that they
knew He was a true teacher of the word of the Lord, that God was
with Him. 
     Yes, secretly, many of the Jewish leaders admitted this
among themselves, but would not openly declare it, for they
feared loosing their followers, who would then follow Jesus, who
like John the baptist, made it clear to them that He would not
become a member of one of their sects. They knew He was very
independent, hence a threat and to them a competition for the
support of the people.
     Nicodemus at this point in his life, would not come openly,
in the day time, to admit this to Jesus, no doubt fearing what
the other leaders of the Jews would try to do to him, certainly
in a spiritual position way, and maybe even in a physical way. So
he came at night, but did admit to Jesus that they knew God was
with Him.

     Jesus got right down to the foundation and goal of why
mankind was put on this earth, and what it would involve for
Nicodemus to attain it.
     " I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see
the Kingdom of God."
     Nicodemus was taken a back by what Jesus said, " What do you
mean? How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be
born again? "

     You will notice that Nicodemus clearly understood that Jesus
was talking about a "birth" - thinking Jesus was meaning that to
enter and see the Kingdom of God, a grown person somehow had to
re-enter the womb of his mother and be literally born once more.
     Jesus was not talking about that kind of physical birth, but
it was a birth that He was talking about.
     He went on to explain with a physical comparison, exactly
what you must become like in order to see and be in the Kingdom
of God.

     " The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without
being born of water and the Spirit. Humans give birth to that
which is physical but the Spirit gives birth to that which is
spirit. Do not get all wide eyed and amazed and try to make what
I'm telling you into some theological doctrine of the heart. For
being born again is like this: The wind blows and does things,
you can see the effect if may have, even hear it at times as it

works among physical objects, but you cannot see the wind, it is
invisible to the human eye. So then likewise is everyone who is
born of the Spirit. "

     The words of Jesus are pretty plain and quite simple. Jesus
was telling Nicodemus that to enter the Kingdom of God, you do
have to be born in this physical world as a physical flesh and
blood person. You have to be conceived and grow in a sack of
water in your mother's womb, and after being nourished and
growing to a certain physical stage, then the water in the sack
brakes and you are born into the world of air breathing flesh and
blood creatures. That which is flesh is flesh. Everyone must
first be flesh before they can be later born of the Spirit and
become like the wind, invisible to the human eye.
     Jesus said that which is born of the Spirit IS spirit, and
He likened this Spirit to the wind - invisible but having
evidence that humans can relate to as indeed having effects
on the physical world around us.
     In John 4:24 Jesus said that God IS Spirit.  Many passages
in the Bible show that God does have form and shape, that He does
have a "body." The last chapters of the book of Revelation tell
us that one day God's children will actually see His "face." His
body is made of Spirit, not physical flesh, blood, and bone. God
lives in a different world, a world of a different dimension. He
lives in a "spirit" world that is, unless He chooses to reveal it
to the human eye, an invisible world to our vision of our
physical eyes.
     
     We know the Bible teaches there are good spirit creatures
called "angels" and there are bad and evil spirit creatures
called "demons."  A few of the chief angels are mentioned by name
in the pages of God's word, such as Gabriel, whom we have seen
came to Mary to tell her she had been chosen to bear God's Son.
Then the chief fallen and sinful spirit creature is mentioned by
name also. We know him as being mainly called Satan, or the
Devil. We cannot see these spirit creatures unless they either
manifest themselves to us as if looking like humans, or if God
works a miracle with our eye sight, enabling us to see them,
which was granted to a few in the Old Testament (read 2 Kings
6 to see this truth).

     The book of Daniel is an interesting book in places. It
tells us a little about this basically unseen spirit world that
lies all around us.  It mentions a few specifics as to what
is happening among the "good" spirit creatures and the "bad"
spirit creatures that oppose each other.

     God is composed of Spirit in His invisible glory form. And
those who are to be His literal children, born of Him, who will
enter the Kingdom of God, will also be spirit, for as the apostle
Paul was inspired to write, "...Flesh and blood cannot inherit
the Kingdom of God..." (1 Cor.15: 50).  A large part of Paul's
fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, is devoted to explaining the
"change" that is to come, that must come, to those in whom God
dwells (His sons and daughters, see 2 Cor.6:16) in order to
IN-herit, see and enter the Kingdom of God, at the resurrection
when the last trumpet sounds (see Matthew 24: 30-31).

     Jesus was saying the same thing to Nicodemus but in a
shorter, nut-shell way. Of course being born of God, born of THE
Spirit, means He must come and beget you first, making you in
this life time His child through the indwelling of His nature, or
Holy Spirit as the New Testament often calls it. All this means
you are converted to His mind and way of thinking and wanting to
live by His every word, as Jesus said we should (Mat.4:4).
     It means you remain His child to the end of your life. It
means no matter what the trials, tests, hardships, problems, no
matter what difficulties physically, mentally, or emotionally,
that life may bring, you endure and remain His child, loving Him
and doing His will to the end, until death.
     Then just as a child in its mother's womb has endured, been
nourished, grown, and is finally born, so it will be for the
child of God. He/she will one day be born of God, born of THE God
Spirit, and enter His Kingdom.

     Jesus was telling Nicodemus that that was the very purpose
as to why mankind was created upon this earth, to be born of the
Spirit, to become part of the invisible Spirit world. This is far
greater than anything that science-fiction movies have ever
thought up.
     But old Nicodemus was befuddled by what Christ was telling
him. He just could not comprehend it and exclaimed in
bewilderment, "How can these things be at all possible?"

     " Are you a teacher in Israel " Jesus answered him, " Is it
not your job to read the Scriptures of the Lord, and to come to
understand what it says, and you know not these things that I
speak about? "

     Jesus was telling him that by reading and understanding and
believing the Scriptures, he should have already known what He
was expounding. Furthermore, Jesus told him, " But if you don't
even believe me when I tell you about earthly things such as
the wind and what I represented by it, then how can you possibly
believe the things going on in heaven? For I know what heaven is
truly like, as only I, the Son of Man, have come from heaven to
earth, and will return to heaven again. "

     This last part of Jesus' statement here is very revealing if
we will but believe it for what it says. The King James
translation of the Bible in 1611 put it this way: "No man has
ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even
the Son of man."

     Jesus, of all human beings to ever live and walk this earth,
is the only one to have been in heaven. The reality that death is
a sleep, and that we do not continue to think and act after
death, either in a heaven or a hell, is vividly brought out in a
later chapter of the Gospel of John, when we see how Jesus raised
a man called Lazarus back to life after being dead for four days.

     Jesus continued to tell Nicodemus, " And as Moses lifted up
the bronze snake (Num.21:9) on a pole in the wilderness, so I,
the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who
believes in me can have eternal life in the Kingdom of God. "
     Here Jesus is telling Nicodemus and all who read this, that
He, the Son of Man, was the Messiah, the Anointed One from God,

the one who would come from God, live a perfect live, never do
any wrong, take all sins of mankind upon Himself, die on a cross,
thus forgiving the sins of all those who would believe and accept
Him as the Saving Messiah. And in so doing they could have
eternal life.

     Jesus added yet more, to show and to amplify, the one main
purpose that God the Father had when He decided to create the
physical human kind:
     
     " For God so loved the world (the people in it) that He gave
His only Son, so that all who believe in Him do not have to
perish but can have eternal life. God did not send His Son into
the world to condemn it, but to save it, to give people a chance
for eternal life. There is no condemning those who trust and have
faith in Him. But those who do not have trust in Him are
condemning themselves for not believing in the only Son of God. 
Their condemnation is based on this fact: That light from heaven
came into the world, but they loved the darkness of sin and
wrong-doing more than the light of righteousness, for their
actions were evil. They do not like the light because they desire
to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light because
they fear that the light will expose their sins, and then they
would have to make a choice to either live in the light or to
live in darkness.  But, those who want to do what is right come
to the light gladly, so all people can see that they are doing
the will of God  " (John 3:1-21).

     Nicodemus, a religious leader of the Jews, came to Jesus by
night, secretly, and to be unseen . He admitted to Jesus that he
and others like him, knew He was from God, that God was with Him,
but stopped short of saying He was the Son of God, and the
saving Messiah to come.
     Jesus, got right down to business, hit the nail on the head,
pulled no punches, and not only told Nicodemus that He was the
Son of God, sent to save and give eternal life to those who would
believe on Him, but told him that the main purpose of God,
because He had so much love, was to save people to eternal life,
not to condemn them to death.
     Jesus said it was the purpose of God to have people born of
Him, born of the Spirit, and so be like Himself, to live in a
dimension that was mighty and powerful like the wind was at
times, and also invisible to the human eye, as also was the wind.
     Jesus told Nicodemus that to be born of the Spirit, would
mean you were willing to come to the light of truth and
righteousness, to be willing to have your wrongs and sins clearly
revealed to you by the light, and to walk in the ways of the Lord
God. Such people would then acknowledge that He Jesus, the
Christ, was the very Son of God, and would gladly come to the
light, so the light could lead and guide them into doing the will
of God.

     Jesus was teaching Nicodemus the purpose for human
existence, and the true and only way to salvation or eternal
life.

     This was also a kind but corrective rebuke to Nicodemus as
he had at this point in his life not yet come to acknowledge that
Jesus was the very Son of God, and so was still not yet in  the
mindset of loving all the light.


     It is a lesson everyone of us need to take to our heart and
mind. To walk in the light as He (God) is light. Then one day we
can be born of the Spirit, and see the Kingdom of God.

             ..................................

Written February 2001

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