Bible Study Lesson from Matthew 21:12-17
As we move closer to Easter we discover how Jesus drives away money changers in the temple.
In Bible times the people came from all over to worship in the temple at Jerusalem.
So, foreign currency exchange was needed as it is in many countries today.
The money changers mentioned in Matthew were taking advantage and becoming rich by shortchanging the patrons with the rates they gave.
Jesus became angry at this practice and we can see His frustration in this passage.
Jesus Drives Away Money Changers from the Temple
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.
And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.” – Matthew 21:12-13 NASB
Jesus Drives Out the Sellers
Many people think of this scene as the temple being a marketplace. And, to an extent, it was.
But, there is much more to this story than buying and selling, or exchanging currency.
When people traveled long, hard distances to reach the temple of Jerusalem, they found it difficult to bring an animal or dove with them on this journey. So, vendors would supply the sacrifice to these travelers.
The merchants were selling these sacrifices (at outrageous prices) to the Gentiles who had many times come from far away lands to worship God and to hear the message.
In order to buy the sacrifices they had no choice but to use local currency.
Enter, the money changer.
Rate of Exchange
To add insult to injury the money changers were not always honest when calculating the currency exchange rates and so the “customers” were often cheated.
All this was taking place right outside the temple of God!
House of Worship?
These money exchange areas and sacrifice booths were set up by the venders – the yard became so full that the Gentiles were crowded out of the temple.
They were unable to worship because of the hustle and bustle of “doing business” by these money changers and merchants.
So, Christ was not just upset with the buying and the selling and the cheating. He was angered at the fact these cheaters were hindering the worship of God.
Nothing should ever interfere with prayer and worship.
Does the Anger of Christ Against Money Changers in the Temple Contradict the Bible?
This has been debated many times as some have stated that Jesus broke his own interpretation of the commandment – “Thou shalt not murder.”.
When talking about the Ten Commandments He stated that even becoming angry with a person means that we have “murdered” them in our hearts.
Is This What Jesus Did?
Not at all. The anger Jesus displayed in the temple was controlled. Yes, He did become upset at the selling, the lying, and the cheating going on in His temple but let’s look on at what could have happened.
Remember the Fig Tree?
In Matthew 21 we’ll discover that Jesus spoke to a fig tree which was not producing fruit. This one verse helps to clarify. It states;
“.. He *said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.”
And at once the fig tree withered.”
Now, let’s put these two incidents together. What if Jesus was angry enough to murder the money changers?
What if He decided there was no hope for them? Could He not have spoken a word and killed everyone there just as He did with the fig tree?
Wow! This sheds a whole new avenue of possibilities, doesn’t it?
All through his three years of ministry, Jesus constantly revealed who He really was to the disciples.
The withered fig tree and the cleansing of the temple only reinforces the fact that Jesus has powers over life and death – IF and HOW He chooses to use them.
So no, I don’t believe that His anger at the corrupt money changers broke the commandment. I believe it only showed us a glimpse of the power (and mercy) of God.
Love in Christ
If you would like to learn how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to look at John 3:16 for clarity and choices.
Read Today’s Verses Here:
New American Standard Bible
New King James Version