The temple cleansing is found in all four Gospels. However, John puts this scene right after Jesus’s miracle at Cana at the start of his ministry. In the synoptics, it takes place at the end and is a catalyst for Jesus’s arrest.
The marketplace system at the temple wasn’t anything new to Jews. Buying and selling animals was a necessary activity for pilgrims who wanted to offer sacrifice. Furthermore, not only moneychangers but also the Roman government benefitted from this system. So why would Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry, show such rage against this everyday practice sanctioned by both church and state?Do you believe in Jesus because of the miracles and signs? Or do you believe in what the signs point to—the world-turned-upside-down reign of God embodied in Jesus himself? Click To Tweet
John’s placement is both a Christological statement and a challenge to Christ’s would-be followers. Do you believe in Jesus because of the miracles and signs? Or do you believe in what the signs point to—the world-turned-upside-down reign of God embodied in Jesus himself?
In today’s society, built upon systemic injustice, the question for Christians may be this: Do you worship human structures and systems that benefit the powerful few at the expense of the marginalized, even if they are long-held religious practices? Or do you worship Christ, who is the temple for every age? Can we turn over the tables of our own systems of injustice even if it means disrupting our everyday lives?