John 2:13-25

Author: Brad Reynolds

Jesus Clears the Temple Courts

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.

Key Verse

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

In the second part of Chapter 2, Jesus confronts the heart of Judaism, the Temple. This is a unique story because we see an aggressive, angry Jesus. He also predicts his death and resurrection publicly.


There is a lot to unpack in these verses. Jesus is angry. Like “make a whip and chase livestock and people” angry. And this is coming on the heels of Jesus keeping the party going at the wedding in Cana, by turning water into wine! He goes from the life of the party to the angry guy in a few verses. What gives?

Well, Jesus is going into a crowded, bustling marketplace (the Temple), where people are doing business. Not good, wholesome business either.

·       Money changers are exchanging money at rates to pad their own pockets.

·       Livestock are sold at premium rates (like buying a Dr. Pepper at the movie theater).

·       The priests are inspecting livestock being brought in and finding flaws so that people must purchase the livestock from them (Nope! You can’t bring your own drink in the theater; you have to buy from them).

The money exchange and the livestock sales are not bad in themselves. They were necessary for the people traveling to Jerusalem. These were supposed to be a service for people trying to obey God. Instead, the priests were greedy and made choices to serve themselves. And when they were confronted about their wrongdoings, they became indignant and defensive.

Here we see the issue in the way “business” was being conducted in the Temple. Not only did the priests have monetary motivation, but they were the religious gatekeepers. People relied on them to get to God.

Jesus completely shakes this up by halting their business for at least a moment. They see Jesus as a threat to their way of life. This would ultimately lead to them planning the crucifixion of Jesus, but by crucifying Him, the Temple was no longer needed.No more paying the exchange rate.

No more buying livestock at hiked up prices.

No more priests glaring at Jews and Gentiles alike to make sure the sacrifices were up to par.

The Gospel is for everyone, not just those that can follow the rules and afford it! Praise Jesus for that!

Discussion Questions

1.      When someone criticizes you and the way you do things, how do you react?

2.      In this story we see an angry Jesus. How does that compare to the Jesus we see throughout the New Testament?

If you are interested in learning more about the day-to-day structure of the Temple, this video would be helpful -- A Look at the Temple

Brad Reynolds

My wife, Molly, and I have been worshipping at Saturn Road for two years. We have two boys, Graham (4) and Cal (2), and are expecting our third child, a girl, in early October! We love being outside and playing any and all sports, but especially basketball. Molly teaches at the preschool here at Saturn Road, and I teach science and coach basketball at Lakeview Centennial High School.