St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Jesus, Come And Cleanse Your Temple

Sermon on John 2:13-17

Text: When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

As the days grow warmer, we may start to think about spring being just around the corner. With the coming of spring, we start to think of many things that we could not do during the winter months. One of these activities that you may or may not do is the annual spring cleaning of the house. During spring cleaning, you pay special attention to doing a thorough cleaning of the house. The drapes may be taken down and cleaned. The windows may be washed. It’s our way of starting over again after the house has been closed up during the winter months. After we are finished, we can be proud of our clean house. This morning in our text, we read of a “house cleaning.” Jesus cleansed his Father’s house of those who were selling goods. As we read about Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, we also pray JESUS, COME AND CLEANSE YOUR TEMPLE. We pray that he would 1. Cleanse Me From All False Religious Ideas and that he would 2. Cleanse Me From All My Sins.

Jesus came to the temple during the Passover and what a sight greeted his eyes. We are told, “In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.” (Verse 14) The area of the temple that Jesus entered was called the “Court of the Gentiles.” This courtyard was the only place in the temple complex that Gentiles were allowed to go. In this courtyard men had set up booths to sell cattle, sheep, and doves. They were selling these animals to people who had come from a distance so that they could offer their sacrifices to God. We know that people who bought these animals often had to pay a higher price than normal. They were paying for the convenience of not having to bring animals with them from home. We are also told that there were men who were moneychangers there, as well. Only Jewish money could be used in the temple for your temple tax. At the time of Passover, believers would come from all over the world. To pay their temple tax, they would exchange their foreign currency for the Jewish. We also know that these moneychangers charged an exorbitant rate for their services.

Can you imagine what the temple courtyard must have looked, sounded, and smelled like? The sights, sounds, and smells would hardly have been very conducive to worship! The people’s greed was getting in the way of worship. When Jesus saw this, he was filled with righteous anger. We are told that Jesus “made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’” (Verses 15&16) Jesus cleared the men out of the temple, who were showing an obvious lack of respect for it. These men cared little about religious life. They saw an opportunity to make a profit from those who came to worship. They may have thought that this was their temple. Jesus forcefully reminded them that this was his Father’s house. Jesus cleansed the temple of these people.

This is not the usual picture that people have of Jesus. They think of him only as a kind, loving person. Sometimes, we may also fall into that type of thinking. Yet here we see Jesus in righteous anger toward those who would pollute the worship of his Father. We pray that Jesus would come and cleanse the world of false religious ideas.

There are many church bodies in the world today. There are many places where people have gone wrong. The reason for this is that they have placed human reasoning and logic over the clear teaching of the Scriptures. As a result, they have come up with teachings that are contrary to what the Bible says. For example, many of them preach and teach that in some way, no matter how small, people help God out in their salvation. They are told to live good lives so that they can earn heaven. Yet, we know from the Scriptures that this is impossible. We cannot earn our salvation. Salvation is only ours because of Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection. The only way that we can be saved is through faith in Jesus as our Savior. This faith is created in us by the Holy Spirit. We do not choose to accept Christ. We can only accept Christ after the Holy Spirit has created faith in our hearts. We pray that Jesus would cleanse them of their errors and cause them, with clear eyes, to see the pure Gospel message.

We also pray that Jesus would keep us from religious error. It is all too easy to let our human reasoning take charge and try to explain away what the Scriptures clearly teach. May God find us all to be grounded with a simple child-like faith and that all man-made ideas be cleansed from us. We ask that Jesus would cleanse us from all false religious ideas. Not only do we pray for our congregation, but we also pray that God would keep our church body faithful to what is taught in God’s Word. For this reason, we keep in our prayers those who lead our church body. We keep in our prayers those who are teaching the future pastors and teachers of our synod.

We also note that, as the disciples watched Jesus cleanse the temple, they were reminded of a verse from Psalm 69, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:9) The love that Jesus had for his Father’s house would not allow him to sit still and allow these things to happen. He was passionate about his worship life. We pray that Jesus would give us this same zeal, as well. Each of us can examine our own worship lives. Can we say that there has always been zeal for hearing God’s Word, or is it sometimes, just something that we do? Do we make every effort to hear God’s Word, or is it easy to let other things take priority? What about our attendance at Bible Class or Sunday School? What about our personal worship life, as we read God’s Word for ourselves and pray? Are there things that need to be cleansed from us? We pray that Jesus would keep us clean in our religious life.

We also pray that Jesus would help us clean our hearts, as well. We must admit that there are certain sins that we tend to keep repeating over and over again. There are often referred to as “pet sins.” This term is misleading. When we think of pets, we tend to think of animals that show affection to us. We think of our dogs, cats, etc. These pet sins are not cute and cuddly. They are dangerous. These “pet sins” can lead us down the path to hell. We are powerless on our own to clean our hearts of those sins that we continually fall into.

The only way that we can be cleansed is to be washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. The reason this is true is that his suffering and death did not come about because of his own sins, for Jesus did not sin. He was perfect in every one of his thoughts, words, and actions. As Jesus’ blood was shed on the cross, it cleansed the world of its sins. Through his resurrection, he assured us that he had done everything necessary to cleanse us from our sins. Through faith, which the Holy Spirit creates in our hearts, this washing, this cleaning is applied to us. We know that Jesus has paid for our sins. We are clean is because we have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus’ work, we are holy and perfect. Our hearts have been cleansed.

We pray that Jesus would help us to stay clean, as well. We want to avoid sin because we want to thank Jesus. Instead of there being dirty sin in our lives, we pray that Jesus would fill it with God-pleasing thoughts, words, and actions. We pray that Jesus would direct us to all that is pleasing in his sight. We pray that he would make us aware of every opportunity to do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. We want to stay clean to give glory to our God. We pray that Jesus would help us to stay clean.

We know that we have no power on our own to stay clean. We only have the power to do so with Jesus’ help. It will be a struggle. Habits are hard to break and, it seems, bad habits are harder to break. However, we know that we can do so with Jesus’ help. Jesus is sympathetic to the fact that we face temptations every day. Scriptures remind us that he was tempted in every way, just as we are. We pray that, when temptations come our way, we would be able to say “No!” to it. We pray that Jesus would help us to clean our hearts. We want to do things that are pleasing to Jesus out of thanksgiving. So, we ask that Jesus would help us clean out our hearts of sinful things.

Keeping anything clean is a constant chore. It does not matter if you are talking about your house, your vehicle, your clothes. It seems that we are constantly washing these things to try to keep them clean. Sometimes, it does not seem worth the effort. The house will just get dirty again. It will rain and the vehicle will get muddy. We will probably spill lunch on our shirt. Yet, in spite of the fact that they will probably get dirty again, we still try to keep them clean. We know that we will continue to sin, while we are still on this earth. Yet, we do not throw our hands into the air and say, “It’s no use.” We pray that Jesus would keep his temple, our heart, clean. We also pray that Jesus would keep our religious life clean, as well. We pray that he would keep us true to his Word and increase our zeal for worshiping him. You may or may not do a spring cleaning of your house. In the long run, it may not matter. However, we pray as David did in Psalm 51, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. . . Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:7&10) Amen.