Jesus’ Ministry, the Fulfillment of the Temple (John 2:13-25)

The following are just some basic thoughts on John 2:13-25, based on some discussion with my wife during family worship.  I won’t write out the passage here, as it’s lengthy, so please read it before you continue.

  1. The Passover was the feast that commemorated God’s redeeming work in the Exodus of His people out of Egypt (Exodus 12).  What is more, the Passover didn’t merely commemorate the Exodus, it was an integral part to the Exodus itself.  In short, the people were to kill a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts and lintels of the house.  Then, when the LORD passed through the land to smite the Egyptians, He would pass over (hence Passover) the homes of those who had the blood.  This was their deliverance.  The foreshadowing of Jesus’ bloody crucifixion for our redemption is obvious (and precious).

  2. The selling of oxen, sheep, and doves, in and of itself, was not wrong or sinful.  This was necessary for the offering of sacrifice.  Rather, it was the place in which they were conducting this exchange — the Temple (the house of God).  Nor was the exchange of currency sinful; rather, the place in which it was being done was the issue that sparked Jesus’ righteous anger.  These things should not have been taking place in God’s Temple, the place of prayer, the place of solemn sacrifice.  In short, this shows us that the people thought lightly of God’s institutions and sacrifices (read Malachi for this same theme).  They were dishonoring God by defiling His Temple.  This is why Jesus drove them out.

  3. Obviously, the Jews wanted to know why Jesus thought He possessed the authority to do this.  Who was He?  Precisely! (read John 1:1-18).  They wanted to know what sign He could give them to justify His actions.  Jesus responded, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19).  Of course the people instantly thought of the Temple that Jesus had just driven them out of just seconds ago.  However, John tells us that Jesus was referring to “the temple of His body” (v. 21).  Though this truth was hidden at this time, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples remembered Jesus’ words and believed the Scriptures (e.g. Ps. 16:10) and the words of Jesus (v. 22).

  4. The previous point on Jesus’ body as the Temple is the key point in this passage.  Obviously, the focus of the entire passage is on the Temple and its sacrifices (specifically the Passover).  So, for Jesus to then refer to His body as the Temple is extremely significant.  Why would He do that?  What’s the relation between the Temple building and the body of Christ?  In short, Jesus’ ministerial work is the fulfillment of the Temple and its sacrifices (read the book of Hebrews for a fuller explanation of this).  The sacrifices were but a shadow; Christ is the substance, the reality.  With His body and blood He obtained redemption (deliverance; salvation) for the people of God on the cross, then rose from the grave after three days — victory!  This is the primary truth to take away from this passage: Jesus referred to His body, and the destruction and “rebuilding” of it, because His body was and is the true Temple of God (the Holy Place signifying heaven itself; Heb. 9:24; cf. 10:19-20), whereby redemption is accomplished.

  5. One final point.  Verses 24-25 talk about how Jesus was not entrusting Himself to those who had supposedly believed in Him during His stay in Jerusalem.  He would not entrust Himself to them because “He knew all men,” and “He Himself knew what was in man.”  This cannot be said of any mere man (see 1:47-51).  This is God’s prerogative.  While we may know the depravity of the heart, we can’t honestly say that we “know all men,” in the sense that we know the true intentions of their heart.  John clearly points to Jesus as God in this text, showing that He’s no mere man, but the God-man.

This is a wonderful and significant passage that comes near the beginning of John’s Gospel, foreshadowing what would come later, both in regard to the opposition that Jesus would face (especially by the Jewish leaders) and to the actual accomplishment of our redemption through the cross.

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One thought on “Jesus’ Ministry, the Fulfillment of the Temple (John 2:13-25)

  1. Pingback: Weekly Roundup: Everything Else That We Didn’t Get Around To Posting | The Confessing Baptist

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