In the Gospels, we read the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. The message of this passage may be confusing and misunderstood by some. Jesus abhorred the money changers and their blatant disregard for the sacred place that represented the very presence of God to the Jewish people. In the days of Jesus, it was also referred to as a “house of prayer.” The story of Jesus’ dramatic cleansing of the temple is frequently used as an example of legitimate anger. Jesus’ righteous anger against this disregard for God’s temple prompted Him to use a whip to drive the money changers and those selling doves out of His Father’s house.
When Jewish pilgrims arrived at the temple from afar, they needed animals without blemish for their sacrifices to their Lord. As the requisite animals might be lost, damaged or stolen along the treacherous route to Jerusalem, many chose to purchase them locally. Thus the “Temple Market Place” was a great convenience for the people. However, it also supplied the money changers and animal vendors with an opportunity to make easy money by price-gouging those who made the journey without unblemished sacrifices. Neither traveler nor ‘gouger’ had his focus on God and the real meaning behind the rite of sacrifice. So Jesus took the only reasonable action: He drove them all away.
The temple for the Christian is not the same as for the Jew. It is not a physical place one enters to offer sacrifices and worship his God. For the Christian, their personal body is the temple of God, the place where He dwells. But in the same way Jesus cleansed the physical temple in Jerusalem, today He comes into—and cleanses—our hearts. He drives out the sin lurking there just as He did when He drove the money changers and dove sellers from the temple in Jerusalem. Thus, we see a preview of the salvation Jesus brings to the world today.
Jesus is offended by the sin in our lives. He wants to cleanse us so He, Father and Holy Spirit can make their dwelling in us. He is angered when we act in religious ways but our hearts are far from God. He will make a whip (so to speak) and drive out that which is unholy in order to make us right with the Father. He died to cleanse us, He gives us His Word to keep us clean and some day when we stand before Him in heaven, we will remain clean forever.