45 Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbers’ den.” Luke 19:45-46Read Luke 19:45-48, Jesus Cleanses the Temple
Naturally, Jesus goes straight to his Father’s house. He finds a bustling place of enterprise capitalizing on the Passover holiday. Matthew tells us there was “buying and selling” going on, with tables set up with “money changers” and dove merchants (Matthew 21:12-13). Mark tells us people were sauntering through its courts with “merchandise” in hand (Mark 11:15-17). In John’s account of Jesus’ first Passover visit to the temple (here Luke records his second visitation, see John 2:14-16 for first), possibly add oxen and sheep to the scene.
What was supposed to be a solemn “house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7) was now a raucous zoo and “den of thieves.” (Jeremiah 7:11). A righteously indignant Jesus, perhaps again making himself a scourge out of cords as he did the first time, clears the area, and with the other hand overturns the tables. Coins fly in the air. A carpenter’s strength is formidable, of course, and the merchants scatter, attempting to broom up their coins while avoiding the Messiah’s blows. His veins were popping as he called them out.
Yes, there is a time to be righteously and justifiably angry, a time to clean house. Would that we clearly recognize these times and take action, holding nothing back. But it will come at a steep cost, as the leaders wanted even more to kill him. When we confront evil, and our anger must be God’s not ours, we’ll likely have only one arrow in our quiver, one round in the chamber, and we must make it count.
47 And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to put Him to death, 48 and yet they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said. Luke 19:47-48
For a few short days, Jesus was insulated by a huddle of people, who hung on every word he taught them in a now sterilized temple, because of his physical presence. The leaders looked on with seething contempt, conniving to find a way to take him out. Their rage blinded them to the truth of his words. In the days ahead there’d be three coordinated attacks against him (Luke 20).