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JESUS CLEARS THE TEMPLE OF THOSE WHO PROFANED IT, GIVING AN EXAMPLE OF RELIGIOUS ZEAL.
John ii. 12-25.
12. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples : and they continued there not many days.
13. And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
14. And found in the temple those that sold oven and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.
15. And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen ; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables ;
16. And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
17. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.?
1 The first passover, A. D. 30, the first year of the ministry of Jesus.- Newcome.
2 Ps. Ixix. 9. The whole passage stands thus: “ For thy sake I have borne reproach ; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children: for the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up: and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen
eaten me up.
This recollection of St. John is interesting. He seems to allude to some surprise felt at the time by the apostles. And certainly there was much to astonish them. Jesus saw, with great indignation, an evil practice which the proper guardians of the temple had overlooked, or countenanced. When he saw it, the fire kindled within him; he laid aside his usual character, and eagerly engaged himself in dispersing those who profaned his Father's house. This surprised them. But their surprise was checked when they remembered the words of Scripture, The zeal of thine house hath
I am even consumed by my zealous feelings for the honour of thy house.
“ It is good to be zealously affected in a good thing :” and the wonder is, that we should be so earnest in trifles, and so lukewarm in what is most important. But the same inward feelings will always lead to similar conduct. They had led David
“ I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to my eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.” And now a like emotion is hallowed by the Son of God. Father's house which is thus desecrated !
Ought we not to feel the same, when we hear the name of God profaned ; when we see his commands neglected; when multitudes have no knowledge of him? We too should be zealous for the honour of our heavenly Father. And this zeal
3 Ps. cxxxii. 3-5.
It is my
must not evaporate in mere vague or idle lamentation ; but after the example of Jesus, we must endeavour to promote what we desire, and remove the evils over which we mourn.
18. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things ?
19. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
21. But he spake of the temple of his body.
22. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them: and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
The temple which they profaned, whilst they professed to hold it in veneration, was the temple of which they thought and spoke. He spoke of a greater temple, the temple of his body. And he had reason to term it so. For a temple is raised to the honour of God, a testimony to his name, in the midst of a world which he has made, but which is too often forgetful of its Maker. And such also was the body which had been now prepared for Jesus, when “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us.
It was given him that he might glorify God in the bodily form and nature of man,
* This speaks of the restoration, the gradual re-building, of the second, or Zerubbabel's temple, begun by Herod, sixteen years before the birth of Christ. Forty-six years had now elapsed, and the repair was not yet completed.
first by living to his service, and then by dying as a sacrifice to his holiness.
We must bear in mind, however, that this term, great and honourable as it is, is not applied to the body of Jesus alone. St. Paul addresses every Christian when he says, “ Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 5 The temple is dedicated to the service of God. And so are those whom Christ has called to be a “ peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
When the Lord of the temple came, seeking what he had a right to expect there, piety and devotion, he found it made a house of merchandise; nay, even “ a den of thieves.”
Let it not then be so with us, when the Lord shall finally come to examine the spiritual temple, which it is the purpose of his grace to purify—when he takes “ account of things “ done in the body, whether they be good or bad.” “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant. But who
may abide the day of his coming ? and who shall stand when he appeareth?”6 At his second coming, let him not find that unseemly or unworthy things have got possession there, where every thing ought to be inscribed with “ holiness to the Lord. “For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.' “ Therefore, glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are
5 I Cor. vi. 19; iii. 16.
6 Mal. ij. l, 2.
23. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the
passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
24. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,
25. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
He knew the weakness, the fickleness of these people, and did not commit himself unto them. They believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did : but he perceived in them no stability ; nothing that promised zealous and consistent faith. The soil was so light or so stony, that even if the blade shot up for a while, it would soon wither away and perish, when the first heat of temptation came.
Jesus still knows what is in man. This should be an awful thought to the hollow and insincere professor. It is the greatest comfort of the humble and earnest Christian, who is struggling against his infirmities, and lamenting his unworthiness; but on whose heart is written, as it was on that of Paul, “ God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
7 Gal. vi. 14.