Zeal for your house will consume me

Posted by admin on 4 September 2022 in Deuteronomy, Exodus, Isaiah, John, Leviticus, Luke, Matthew, Numbers, Timothy |

John 2:13–17

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.’

 I. Passover (13)

Passover is the festival when Jews celebrate the ‘Passover’ of the angel of destruction if the blood of a lamb for each household is pasted on the sides and tops of the door of the house (Exodus 12:1-30). The lambs to sacrifice and eat were to be year-old males without defect (Exodus 12:5). The Passover lamb represents Jesus whose blood on the cross saves us. This festival lasts for seven days. Very close to the start date of this festival, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a city on the mountain top. So, the way to it is upward and the way out of it is downward.

 II. Zeal for your house will consume me (14-17)

In the temple courts, Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money (14).

a. Background

If they are too distant to carry their tithe to Jerusalem, they can exchange their tithe for silver (Deuteronomy 14:24-26). They needed a female lamb or goat for a sin offering (Leviticus 5:6) and as for the Nazirite, a year-old male lamb for a guilt offering (Numbers 6:12). If they can’t afford a lamb, two doves or two young pigeons can be used for the sin offering (Leviticus 5:7).

As for a priest, a bull calf without defect was used for a sin offering and a ram without defect for a burnt offering (Leviticus 9:2). A young bull, a ram and a male lamb were used for a burnt offering, a male goat for a sin offering, and two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and year-old five male lambs for a fellowship offering in Numbers 7:15-17. A ‘burnt offering’ has to do with ‘dedication’.

Money changers (14b) might exchange foreign (e.g., Roman) currencies with the temple currency[1] for their offering to the Lord (Exodus 30:13).

 b. My house will be called a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7)

Jesus made a whip out of cords, drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle (15a).

Here, we note that Jesus used the whip not on people but on sheep and cattle to drive them out. Probably the owners of them followed them to go out of the temple courts.

Jesus scattered the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables (15b).

As for doves, they might be kept inside closed cages. They couldn’t be driven out or overturned. Jesus SPOKE to those who sold them,

‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’ (16)

Matthew 21:13, a verse parallel to v16, says,

‘It is written, he said to them, ‘ “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it “a den of robbers.”’

See v17.

His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’

‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ is written in Psalm 69.9.

“My devotion to your house is best translated in some languages as ‘My love for your house,’. In others it may be expressed idiomatically as ‘My hunger for your house has grabbed me’ Rather than render ‘will destroy me’ or burns in me like a fire, some languages express this concept by such an idiom as ‘will eat me up’ or even ‘will cause my death.’”[2]

In the book of John, ‘Jerusalem and the temple’ is the place of the Jews and the place of tragic rejection [1]. Jesus is the Passover lamb sacrificed, bled and eaten (John 6:53-56) to save them. In this paragraph, his love for God’s house (the temple) caused him to take the above actions, and they might cause his death, which was an essential part of his mission.

If his temple cleaning was a cause of his death, this tells us that this world is evil and dangerous in fact. A similar example that standing for the truth caused death is found in the life of Baptist John. He rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, Herod locked John up in prison (Luke 3:19-20) and eventually beheaded him (Matthew 14:1-12). The truth was jailed and killed. Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest one among those born of women (Matthew 11:11). He was the most excellent prophet and the voice telling them the truth. He was totally mistreated when he confronted the evil.

Some relevant verses:

12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.(2 Timothy 3:12–13),

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)

References

[1] Bircher, Gerald L. The New American Commentary: John 1-11.

[2] Newman, Barclays M., Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on the Gospel of John.

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