When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. (John 2:13)
After spending a few days with His family and friends at a wedding, Jesus made the short trip to Jerusalem for the Passover, as was mandatory for every able-bodied male Jew living within 15 miles of the temple.
The Passover was a holy day of remembrance. While in Egypt for over 400 years, God’s people became oppressed by a corrupt system of economics and spirituality. Not only were God’s people not free to worship Him, but they were also financially robbed and kept in poverty. So, God delivered His people to return to their home in Jerusalem where they could be free to worship Him and provide income for their families.
The Passover was intended to be a time of cleansing from sin and injustice as the Jews cleansed their homes of leaven, which the Bible teaches is a symbol of sin that grows and dirties our lives (1 Corinthians 5:6–8; Galatians 5:9). In the spirit of Passover, Jesus arrived at the temple (His home) only to find sin that had dirtied the worship of God’s people, so He sought to cleanse the very temple of God. In a moment of welling righteous anger, Jesus took a whip in one hand (that He made) to scatter the animals and used His other hand to overturn the money changers’ tables as He rebuked them for turning His Father’s house into a corrupt and lucrative business.
Jesus’ anger arose, in part, because Israel was being run much like Egypt. In a tragic irony, God freed His people from a corrupt economic and spiritual system in Egypt so that they could freely worship Him in Jerusalem, but the same kind of unjust system was only replicated in Jerusalem. God Himself shows up to the Temple—supposedly built as a home for God’s people to worship Him—and finds that comfort and money are worshiped instead of Christ their Messiah.
Before we get too self-righteous and judge them for falling back into old patterns of sin, let’s consider our own lives. Haven’t you done the same thing in some way? Have you seen God deliver you, and yet you go right back to some unhealthy relationship, lifestyle, addiction, mindset, or routine?