2:12 - 25--Temple
John next tells us that Jesus, His family, and His
disciples went Capernaum. Other comments in the Gospels tell us that
Capernaum became Jesus' new home (Matthew 4:13, Mark 2:1), though
John is the first to tell us that Jesus' family made the move as
well. The connection between Matthew 8:5 and 8:14 suggests that
Capernaum was Peter's home as well; furthermore, Matthew's tax
station was apparently nearby as well (see Matthew 9:1 and 9:9).
John does not mention Matthew by name; however, the timelines of the
Synoptics tell us that Jesus did not meet Matthew until after he
moved to Capernaum. It's same to conclude that, at this point in
John's Gospel, Jesus has not yet met Matthew. That being the case,
Jesus has obviously not gathered around Him the Twelve core
disciples; it would seem that the disciples mentioned in this passage
are only the small group we have met up to this point.
The story of Jesus cleansing the Temple is told in
all four Gospels; what is confusing is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke
all place it towards the end of their accounts, whereas here
John places it at the beginning. This has led to much
speculation. The majority of scholars assert the event occurred
towards the end of Jesus' earthly ministry, but that John places it
at the beginning for topical/thematic reasons. A minority of
scholars assert that it is actually John who has the correct
chronology, and that the Synoptics place theirs towards the end for
various reasons. And then some scholars suggest that John and the
Synoptics describe two separate events; that on two different
occasions, Jesus cleared out the Temple.
In all the Gospels, the occasion occurs near
Passover. If there were two events, however, this would not be mere
coincidence; Jews, including Jesus, commonly traveled to Jerusalem
for the Passover. If there were two incidents, they would have
occurred at least two (if not three or perhaps even four) years
apart, explaining how Jesus could have gained access to the Temple a
second time after making such a nuisance of Himself the first time.
D.A. Carson comes close to advocating the two-occurrence theory,
though he admits that, ultimately, we do not know.
What is interesting is that Jesus' response here,
"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days,"
becomes the muddled accusation used against Him in Matthew and Mark's
Gospel (Matthew 26:61, Mark 14:58); however, the charge itself is
not raised against Him in John's Gospel. This would seem to
be yet another example of John serving as "clarifier" in the overall
story of Jesus: the absence of the Synoptics on this comment might
have lead some to believe it was an entirely fabricated charge
against Jesus; John fills us in with some additional
What was Jesus so upset about? Speculations
abound about possible corruption on the part of the Temple officials.
The animals were used for Temple sacrifices; the sacrifices had to
meet certain standards, and receive the approval of the Temple
officials. Perhaps they entered into an agreement with the sellers
that they would only approve their animals, allowing the sellers to
raise their prices? Again, this is all guess-work, and with little
real warrant. It is significant to note that, in John's account,
Jesus does not raise the issue of cheating; instead, His anger seems
to come from the fact that the Temple has been turned into a
marketplace. Making a whip, He drives the animals out (anyone who
has had experience with cattle and sheep can quickly appreciate that
this was no easy task).
John does make a clarification on Jesus' statement
which may also give us a clue as to the thematic aspect of this
story. Jesus says, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again
in three days." John adds, "But the temple He had spoken of was His
body." Dr. Craig Blomberg suggests that this is another in John's
series of "new": last week we saw a "New Joy" with the turning of
water into wine; next we will see a "new birth" in Jesus' discussion
with Nicodemus (being "born again"). Here, Jesus talks about a
new Temple. And just as the water-into-wine miracle may have
pointed to a replacement in the Jewish sacrificial system, here we
would see the same: no longer will God's people find it necessary to
travel to the Temple and offer sacrifices. Instead, Jesus' death
("Destroy this temple") and His resurrection ("and I will raise it
again in three days") have replaced the old sacrificial system, and
served as a lasting sacrifice.
See you next week!
If you have anything of interest to add to
or you have general comments, questions, or ideas,
we welcome your
Pages Created by
copyright � 2003 - 2018
Last modified date: January 1, 2018