A Place of Worship, Not of Spending

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.

John 2: 13-25

In Matthew I compared (loosely) the money changers and those selling sacrificial animals in the Temple to having a coffee shop in your church. That argument is even more relevant in John as Jesus simply accuses them of turning it into a “marketplace” rather than a “den of robbers.” Jesus’s message is clear: church should be a place of worship, a place where you go to be closer to God. Anything else has no purpose in a church.

If you feel strongly that a coffee shop is the right thing for your church (think of all the houses you could build with the profits!), I much prefer when churches own and operate coffee shops nearby but just off campus, often adjacent to a bookstore that stocks books the church is reading. It is less distracting on Sundays, more inviting to non-church-goers (and therefore more profitable AND more outreaching), and more fitting with Jesus’s message here. I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t have had a problem with and may even have encouraged people selling sacrificial animals near (but not in) the Temple. It would  have been a great service to those Jews who couldn’t afford to keep their own animals.

The last part of this passage stumped me. What does it mean that Jesus “entrusted” Himself to no one? He knew everyone’s heart so He didn’t… what? Confide in them? Teach them? Stay with them?

I’m inclined to lean towards refusing to teach or preach to them. These are the people who asked for Barnabus, a murderer, to be released before Jesus. Maybe He knew they were a lost cause and wanted to spend His time on people He could actually help.

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