Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” (John 2:13-17)
When The Church Becomes A Market Place
The Temple was the center of Jewish life. First built by Solomon it was the place of God’s dwelling with men on earth. The Temple of Jesus’ day was a long rebuilding project by Herod the king. Through the years the Temple was called by many names describing the relationship of the edifice with the Lord. It was called “the temple, the house of the Lord, holy temple, the house of the God of Jacob, the house of My glory, house of prayer, house of sacrifice, house of their sanctuary, mountain of the Lord’s house, a holy and beautiful house, holy mount, palace for the Lord God, tabernacle of witness, Zion.” Christ called it “my Father’s house.”
It is remarkable to see Jesus going through the Temple with a whip of cords driving out the merchants, money changers and animals. The scene at the house of sanctuary must have been overwhelming for the Son to see what men had done to His Father’s house. Solomon’s temple of splendor was lost in the building of Herod but still the place of Moriah represented the holy ground of God with His people. Driving the merchants out of the Temple was an expression of Jesus’ disdain for how men take the beautiful house of the Lord and make it into something it was not intended to be.
The church of Christ is the church He built and bought with His blood. It can be called the house of the Lord because it is the place where God dwells with the saved. The church of God is a body of sanctified people who are a holy nation to Him, His own special people. The church is the body of Christ, His bride and the sheep of His flock. Found within the pillars of the church is the manifold wisdom of God. And like the days of Jesus often has been turned into a house of merchandise.
The New Testament church is harder to find today amidst the clatter of merchants and money changers. In so many places the body of Christ turns to the clanging of social appeal to entice the lost to Christ. Food, fun and frolic is more the norm in the spiritual temple of God today than the pattern of New Testament doctrine. Many churches of Christ spend more money on maintaining the fellowship hall, family life center and kitchens than teaching the lost. How sad the church of the Lord has been turned into a house of merchandise.
Our zeal today must be focused on the truth of God’s word. We must learn the lesson of Psalm 69:9 lest the Lord come with a whip of cords and drive out the modern day merchants from the place of God. The blood of Jesus bought the church for a single purpose. Let us not disavow the blood by turning the house of the Lord into a place it was not intended to be.
The church of the New Testament never thought of itself as being in a rest camp; it was obviously on a battle line. (Halford E. Luccock, Jesus and the American Mind, 1930)