In preparation for the Passover feast, Jesus made His triumphal entry to Jerusalem. Jesus went to the temple there. Herod the Great completely rebuilt the temple in 20–18 B.C. as part of his architectural projects. The temple was surrounded by walls and gates, with specific places for Gentiles, women, and men to worship God and offer sacrifices. The temple was a symbol of God’s presence among His people.
When Jesus entered the Court of the Gentiles, He was furious to see people buying and selling in the temple. Animal sacrifices were required for participation in the temple. (See Deut. 16:16.) For many worshipers traveling from all over the Roman Empire to take part in Passover, it was easier to purchase unblemished animals for sacrificing in the Court of the Gentiles. There, they also exchanged foreign currency for the temple taxes and offerings. So why was Jesus angry at the people?
The merchants buying and selling in the temple were treating the temple as a market or bazaar, not like the house of prayer for all nations that God had intended for it to be. (See Isa. 56:7.) The money changers’ prices were so exorbitant, they were practically robbing the people. (Mark 11:17) On top of that, people were using the temple courts as a shortcut to get to their businesses. The Gentiles who wished to worship God in peace were surrounded by greed and extortion.
Jesus threw out the merchants and money changers. He was committed to honoring God. The chief priests and the scribes saw what happened, and they wanted to destroy Jesus. (Luke 19:47)
When Jesus cleared the dishonest people from the temple, He showed His commitment to honoring God. The temple was supposed to be a place where people could pray and worship God. Jesus was going to die on the cross to take away people’s sins so anyone who trusted in Him could come to God.
These events led up to Jesus’ death and resurrection, and now we do not need to go to a temple to meet with God. Jesus came as God’s presence among us (John 1:14) and to be the final sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. We gather with the church to worship Him together.