The story of Jesus and the money changers happens during Jesus’ earthly ministry when Jesus went to the temple. He became upset by the market taking place at the Temple. He overturned tables and cleared the temple with a whip.
In this story, we can learn about the righteous anger that Jesus displayed at the temple. We can also learn from those Jesus was speaking out against and not making the same mistakes as those in the temple did.
By examining the story of Jesus and the money changers we can learn a lot about righteous anger, and how to respond to situations where righteous anger is needed. We can also learn the root of evil in this story so we can avoid what those at the temple were doing in the story.
Today, we may no longer have a temple that we go to offer sacrifices to God, but we as Christians are called temples. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to treat temples.
There are four accounts of the story of Jesus and the money changers, one occurs in Matthew 21:12-13, the second is Mark 11:15-19, and the third account is in Luke 19:45-48, and the fourth in John 2:13-22.
All four of these accounts although they are written by different people, but all communicate the story in a similar way.
The story begins with Jesus entering the temple and being upset with what is going on in the temple he overturns tables and drives out those who are buying and selling.
In the temple courts he [Jesus] found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 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. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!’John 2:14-16
What upset Jesus was the money changers who were cheating people at the temple. Cheating people is wrong but at the location of the temple upset Jesus since this place was set apart for the presence of God.
Because each of these accounts was written by different people each one shows a different perspective on the situation that is happening. Matthew, Mark, and Luke quote Jesus as saying
“He said to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.’Matthew 21:13
John quotes Jesus differently saying instead,
Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade… Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.John 2:16,19
This does not mean that any author wrote the story down wrong but instead, John is bringing a different perspective.
Many people are surprised that Jesus showed anger in this way, although Jesus was very patient and taught to turn the other check, there is also a time for righteous anger, and Jesus demonstrated this against the money changers.
There are times when you are wronged and get to turn the other cheek, but there are also moments when you see an injustice in the world and we as Christians can fight against it.
Jesus was upset with those using the Temple, his father’s house, to cheat people.
In today’s world, we see injustices like human trafficking or abuse. We know these occurrences are wrong and go against what the Bible says, this gives us the opportunity to fight against these injustices.
Jesus is perfect, he never sinned. He was not sinning when he was angry in the Temple. We see Jesus as an example of righteous anger.
In your anger do not sin.Ephesians 4:26
Today, we can combat that which is evil by joining organizations that fight against evil, or through prayer, and taking action when we see someone being taken advantage of.
Jesus shows us it is not a sin to be angry, but Ephesians warns us not to sin in our anger.
Not Taking Advantage of Others
We can look at how the money changers acted and learn what not to do. What were the money changers doing? Jesus says that the temple had become a “Den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). This indicates that these money changers were not just selling, but they were cheating their customers.
Throughout the Bible, we can find verses and passages that will support this exact idea, that cheating and stealing is wrong.
We read about it in the Ten Commandments, the prophets talk about how stealing is wrong, Jesus reiterates it in the New Testament.
Jesus is not passive to sin but punishes it. Only by the grace of God through his son dying on a cross can we be forgiven of our sins.
Let’s not fall into the trap of taking advantage of those around us. We see what happened to those at the temple, and we want to glorify God.
The Temple Today
Jesus met many people who were thieves during his ministry, but why during this encounter did he turn the tables and drive the buyers and sellers out?
The problem not only was cheating people and going against the 10 commandments, which the Jews were under before Jesus’ death on the cross, but the fact they were conducting this business in the temple.
The temple was a place where God came down and his presence was there. This makes the situation all the worse for those who were cheating, for they were cheating in a special and holy location therefore spurring on Jesus’ righteous anger towards them.
Today, we do not have a temple to go to to meet with God and reconcile our sins, instead, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Since the Holy Spirit is in us, we are the temple.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We are Christians who have an amazing gift of the Holy Spirit inside of us, but we must therefore we must glorify God in all that we do. We do not want to make the same mistake as the money changers did by turning a place of worship into a “den of robbers” (Luke 19:46).
The Bible is full of events and stories that teach us and help us grow in our walk with Christ. This event is no exception, we see here that Jesus is angry, specifically at the money changers. He even drives them out and overturns the table, but never sins during all of this.
We can also take unjust situations in the world today and respond with righteous anger.
We also understand after reading this story that the sin of cheating people at the temple angered Jesus, so we should also avoid taking advantage of people especially since the coming of the Holy Spirit our bodies are a temple to the Lord.