It’s easy to look at the scene in Matthew 21:12-17 and conclude that Jesus was angry with people, and you’d be right, Jesus was angry, but who or what was he really angry about? Through this passage, we learn more about the character of Jesus and how he is our protector and defender, and the one who has authority over the things that seek to define and control us.
“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple…”
Let’s look at the first thing that Jesus did when he entered the temple. He drove out “all who sold and bought.” Why? Because the temple was meant to be a place where God dwelt. It was a place of Holy Ground that no one was meant to defile or take advantage of. But people did take advantage of it. In fact, people were so blind to what they were doing, that Jesus had to physically drive them out of the temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 explains that the temple is not merely just a building, but that “…you yourselves are God’s temple, and that God’s spirit dwells in you”. If we are God’s temple, than Jesus is in fact our defender.
“…and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.”
What I love about the second part of verse 12, is that once Jesus drove out all the offenders from the temple, He overturned all their belongings. Why would Jesus do that? They were already out of the temple, what harm could they do now? Jesus wanted to make a point. That when sin loses its dominion over our lives, it no longer has any authority to return. You see, Jesus doesn’t just want to save us from our afflictions, He free’s us from them. We are completely free from bondage without having to look over our shoulders.
“He said to them, ‘it is written, ‘my house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you made it a den of robbers.’”
No one and nothing was meant to take advantage of you. No person, no addiction, no circumstance. Jesus did not come to drive the people away, He came to drive the sin away. Jesus’ desire is for everyone to be free from the afflictions and troubles that control us. No one was going to stop their business in the temple anytime soon, because it had been integrated as a cultural norm in society. But what everyone sees as common, is a sacred and holy place for God. Jesus values every one of us as a sacred place for God’s presence, that God wants to have a relationship with us, and that he has all the authority to drive out the imperfections in our lives.
Allowing Jesus to come into your life is a decision, and allowing Him to cleanse your temple is a lifelong journey.
How can you let Jesus become your defender? How do you see Jesus defending you today? You were always meant to be God’s temple, filled with His presence and love.