The Berean Expositor
Volume 53 - Page 69 of 215
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2: 12 - 3: 13.
pp. 221 - 225
The Evangelist now records the fact that the Lord and His family moved from
Nazareth to Capernaum, where He had His headquarters for the greater part of His
Galilean ministry, which is recorded by the Synoptic Gospels. The family were there
"for a few days", for Passover now intervened. The Apostle calls it the Jewish Passover,
which again indicates that he is writing after the destruction of the Temple and for
Gentile readers. Professor F. F. Bruce comments "our Evangelist repeatedly refers to
festivals as festivals `of the Jews', not because he himself was not a Jew by birth and
upbringing (he was), but because many of his readers would be Gentile, unacquainted
with the details of the Jewish sacred year".
Three Passovers are mentioned by John, the other two being those mentioned in 6: 4
and 11: 55. But for him we should not know that Christ's ministry was much over a year
in length. During Passover, according to the law, all leaven had to be removed from each
house. In the cleansing of the Temple which now took place this symbolic act was
fulfilled. It was the first public act of Christ at Jerusalem, and the cleansing of the
Temple, recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke, came after His public entry into
Jerusalem, riding upon the ass, and this was His last public act in the city. Some
expositors contend for only one cleansing of the Temple, and conclude that either
Matthew or John has made a mistake. But this is an obvious protest by the Lord at the
beginning of His ministry against the desecration of God's House; even though the
cessation of the trade in animals and money changing was only temporary in both
The Temple was being turned into a supermarket in the court of the Gentiles, and so
worship was being prevented. Some are surprised that Christ used force, but it is not said
that He hit the sheep or oxen. A flourish of the whip would be probably all that was
needed to move them out of the court. He said to the traders "Get these out of here!
How dare you turn My Father's house into a market!" (2: 16, N.I.V.). The Israelite who
knew the O.T. prophecies would associate Christ's sudden appearance in the Temple with
the prophecy of Malachi "the Lord . . . . . shall suddenly come to His Temple . . . . . He
shall purify the sons of Levi" (Mal. 3: 1-3). The Lord's action was a public witness to
His Messianic office and utter devotion to the Temple as His Father's house.
"His disciples remembered that it is written, `Zeal for your house will consume Me'."
(2: 17: see Psa. 69: 9).
As the guardians of the Temple and its worship, the Jews demanded of Him "what
miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" (2: 18). His
answer was:
"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days" (2: 19).