Jesus Shows Zeal for True Worship
JESUS CLEANSES THE TEMPLE
After the wedding in Cana, Jesus heads to Capernaum. Jesus’ mother and his half brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas—are traveling with him.
But why does Jesus go to Capernaum? This city is more prominently situated than Nazareth or Cana and is evidently larger. Also, many of Jesus’ newly acquired disciples live in or near Capernaum. So Jesus can provide them with some training in their home area.
During his stay in Capernaum, Jesus also performs marvelous works. Thus many people of the city and in the surrounding area hear about the things he does there. But Jesus and his companions, who are devoted Jewish men, must soon be on their way to Jerusalem to attend the Passover of 30 C.E.
While at the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus’ disciples see something about Jesus that is most impressive, different from what they have seen before.
God’s Law calls upon Israelites to make animal sacrifices at the temple, and visitors need food provisions during their stay. So the Law allows for those traveling to Jerusalem from a distant location to bring money to spend on “cattle, sheep, goats,” and other things useful during their stay in the city. (Deuteronomy 14:24-26) As a result, merchants in Jerusalem sell animals or birds right inside a large courtyard of the temple. And some of them are cheating the people by charging too much.
Filled with indignation, Jesus pours out the coins of the money changers, overturns their tables, and drives the men out. Jesus then says: “Take these things away from here! Stop making the house of my Father a house of commerce!”—John 2:16.
When Jesus’ disciples see this, they remember the prophecy about God’s Son: “The zeal for your house will consume me.” But the Jews ask: “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?” Jesus answers: “Tear down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”—John 2:17-19; Psalm 69:9.
The Jews assume that Jesus means the literal temple there in Jerusalem, so they ask: “This temple was built in 46 years, and will you raise it up in three days?” (John 2:20) However, Jesus is referring to his body as a temple. Three years later, his disciples remember these words when he is resurrected.