Why Jesus REALLY Cleansed the Temple… (Easter Series Part 2)

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 4.19.46 PM“Honey, when you’re house looks like this you really should close the blinds”.

This quote is from my laughing sweet southern momma when she stopped by unexpectedly.  She knew I had been dealing with a sick kid, a full morning at the doctor, and an afternoon working from home.

Pillows were everywhere. Socks, magazines, pens, pencils, various glassware, random papers, mail, several remotes, and a plate of half eaten baked potato were all covering what I’m pretty sure was my coffee table.

Normally I like a clean house. Things had just gotten way out of hand.

I think Jesus liked clean houses, too. Can you imagine how he felt when he walked into the Temple? Animals, vendors, and beady-eyed cheating money changers were filling the Court of the Gentiles in his father’s house.

Things had gotten out of hand there, too.

Before we go any further, you need to understand Jesus was not in an uncontrollable rage. He had not let anger get the best of him.

Jesus was cleaning.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a seven day feast that begins the day after Passover. It is a reminder of God delivering the Jewish people from Egypt. Because they fled Egypt in the middle of the night, there was no time for their bread to rise.

Exodus 13:7 explains what is expected from the people. “Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.

In preparation of this seven-day remembrance, the Jewish people start a week early by cleaning every room of their house. No leaven is allowed in their “borders”.

In homes, they searched for crumbs under furniture, and scrub rooms from top to bottom. They turn pockets inside out and washed all their clothing. Window sills, behind bookcases – nothing was (or is today) left untouched.

Why would they go to so much trouble?

Leaven symbolizes sin.

In Hebrew, Leaven is known as Hametz, which literally means sour. Leaven produces fermentation. Not only is eating leaven during the feast forbidden, having it anywhere in your house is seen as breaking this command.

Once added to flour, leaven quickly permeates the dough. It brings souring that is a first stage of decay. Once the leaven is in the dough, it cannot be separated from it again.

Avoiding leaven reminds the people to avoid sin, because sin decays our lives. Even a small evil thought or intention can grow, thus changing a person’s character. Cleaning is a tangible reminder to inspect ones life for anything that does not need to be there.

Jesus went into his Father’s house and “cleaned out” the leaven (sin) that was so rampant. The Jews of the day would have connected this act immediately with the cleaning preparation time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Here is the passage that tells us what happened that day: And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?”  (Matthew 21: 12-16)

Notice Jesus didn’t tip everything over and storm out.

He STAYED.
He healed.
He even lingered long enough for children to really make the temple leaders angry.

When they said Hosanna, they were implying that Jesus was going to deliver them.
When they said the Son of David, they were calling him King of the Jews.
And instead of being excited that the King of the Jews would deliver them into righteousness, the leaders became indignant out of jealousy.

Instead of cleansing their hearts from pride and selfishness, they allowed the “leaven” in their lives to grow.

And there’s even more to this story in my next entry…

4 thoughts on “Why Jesus REALLY Cleansed the Temple… (Easter Series Part 2)

  1. Great observations here Janey – and in all your posts! Filling in the details of the Hebraic culture and background of the Bible and of Jesus’ life and teachings helps it all come into focus with a greater clarity of understanding. Wonderful….

  2. Pingback: 9 Things About The Last Supper | Janey's Blog

  3. Janie,
    Really appreciate your blogs. The given heading for this passage is “Jesus Cleans the Temple”… I believe many of us may have had a table flipping tantrum as our visual. (Ok maybe just me). Good to be reminded that after this episode of what is sometimes referred to as righteous indignation, that He STAYED, He healed, He DID what needed to be done. Looking forward to your next one while I marinate in this one.:)

  4. I had no idea about the cleaning within their borders seven days before…I agree with Keren and Barb as well. Excellent.

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