When Jesus got to the temple, He found people selling oxen and sheep. He also found money changers sitting at the temple door changing the money the people had for Roman money. It was business happening at the temple. Jesus responded by making a scourge of cords, and He drove them out of the temple. He overturned the money changers tables. He spoke to those who sold doves telling them to take the animals out of the temple. They were not to make God’s house a place of merchandise. The disciples remembered Psalm 69:9.
Deeper in the Word
The words “drove them all out” in the Greek means “drove out by His authority, not by force or violence, but with stern, firm language.” [Mattoon Treasures, Treasures from John Volume 1 – Chapter 10. Spring Cleaning at God’s House, p. 70] It is said that Jesus may have used the cord to scare out the animals. When He knocked over the tables with the coins falling to the floor, it must have been quite a sight.
This was the first of two cleansing at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. This cleansing caught people by surprise. The second led to His death. Why did Jesus respond this way? There may be two reasons:
1. God’s house was being desecrated.
Worship without reverence was taking place. Arguments over coins resulted in loud voices inside the temple. The stench and racket of animals were going on in the Outer Court. The people had to deal with all this noise as they came to the temple.
2. The Purpose of the Outer Court was a place for Gentiles to Worship and Seek the Lord.
How could the Gentiles worship God in the midst of all this foolishness? It was impossible. The Jews were supposed to be witnesses to them concerning the true God. http://ref.ly/Mk11.17 With all this racket going on, how could the Gentiles worship the Living God? It was not an atmosphere of worship and reverence. Jewish priorities were out of balance. I say once again, the temple was for worship not business!
3. Animal sacrifices were irrelevant because they were not worshiping with the heart.
It was outside actions–not with the heart. These sacrifices would not cleanse the heart.
God wants our hearts.