Christ Cleanses The Temple
John 2 describes the first of two times when Jesus cleansed the Temple. These events almost stand as "bookends" in His work. Reading John 2:13-22, we see Jesus making quite an impression upon the people there for the Passover feast. This act led to Him speaking prophetically about His resurrection (Jn. 2:19-21). This statement was something the people claimed not to have understood (Jn. 2:20), but the leadership understood His true meaning very well (Matt. 27:63).
When Jesus came into the Temple, specifically, the courtyard of the Temple, He saw money changers, those selling animals, and the like. While God made provision for selling animals to those who had to travel some distance to Jerusalem to worship, what Christ saw this day did not conform to what God had intended. I know this because of how Christ acted! Had these people conducted themselves in a correct manner, He would not have driven them out! In this case, Jesus drove the people away from there because they had made the Lord's house a "house of merchandise" (Jn. 2:16).
Matthew Henry (and some others) noted that it is likely that Jesus drove the sheep and oxen out because the owners would tend to follow them (Jn. 2:15). Also, He threw the money down, knowing that the men would gather it up. Jesus, however, did not scatter the doves, which might have resulted in people losing their doves, but told the owners to "take these" (implying they would take the doves in their cages, Jn. 2:16). The point is that even though "the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up," Christ's zeal was under control. We are not reading the actions of someone enraged and out of control. Instead, we read of someone whose actions reminded the disciples of David (Jn. 2:17; Ps. 69:9). Jesus knew how to focus and left us with a proper example.
Christ's zeal (Jn. 2:17) was not uncontrolled anger. This is not what zeal is, anyway. It is not hatred, vengeance, or an attempt at getting retribution. Zeal has to do with a fervent spirit, a "bubbling over" with excitement for something. Jesus had zeal for the Lord's house. He could not allow it to be a "house of merchandise," and He took action that moment to cleanse the area and set things right.
When we read the New Testament, we see that Christians are to be zealous like Christ (Titus 2:14). A similar term to zeal is the word "fervent." Certainly, Christians need to be "fervent" (Rom. 12:11; Jas. 5:16; I Pet. 4:8). How fervent or zealous are we for the work of the Lord? It is easy to get in a "rut" and lose that fervency. If this has happened to you, then let today be the day you reclaim that zeal for the Lord!
When we think about the love Christ has for us, the sacrifice He has offered, and the future promised to us; it should be easy to have zeal for Him and His body (church, Col. 1:18). Seeing what Christ has done for us, let us be fervent and be not only active in making sure we are doing what God has said, but also be zealous in trying to bring others to Heaven with us!