Yesterday, I had the opportunity to preach from John 2:13-22 on Resurrection day. It was a good day of celebration for our church as we witnessed two people follow Christ in believer’s baptism, we engaged in the singing of the gospel to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, we observed the Lord’s supper, we worshipped through the preaching, and we concluded with the presentation of new members as three families were added to our church family.
As I began my sermon yesterday, I asked a simple question: How do we know that Jesus is the risen Savior of sinners? On many occasion, we’re asked to provide proof of our identification to prove we are who we claim to be. It may be that we’re asked to show our driver’s license, provide our social security number, or to show our passport, but in all cases, it’s to validate our identification. After arriving in Jerusalem at Passover, Jesus was asked for proof of His identification by the Jewish community. How Jesus responded was one more proof of His masterful teaching and preaching ability.
Jesus Purged the Temple
Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Jesus found the temple in an absolute mess. As more than 2.5 million people would have crowded the streets of Jerusalem for Passover, many of those people came from outside of the city. Some traveled from far away locations. Therefore, there would be the need to sell animals to visitors for sacrifices and to exchange money. The temple, a house of prayer and designed for worship, had been turned into a marketplace of trade. In fact, it was a “den of robbers” as Jesus saw it.
The exchange rate for money was elevated to nearly 25% according to many historical accounts. The stench of the animal waste surrounding the temple and the circus atmosphere was breathtaking. For Jesus, it was tragic to see His Father’s house abused in such a manner. Many of those people had nothing to do with the temple and the heart of worship all year long, but they showed up at the temple at Passover.
According to the text, John tells us that Jesus made a whip of cords and ran all of the animals and people out of the temple and poured out all of the money and overturned the money changers’ tables. This got everyone’s attention. According to Mark’s account of the story, Jesus took that opportunity to teach the people (Mark 11:17). Jesus quoted Isaiah 56:7 – “these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Jesus’ actions here in the temple would have caused great harm to the profit of the money changers and those who sold animals in the makeshift market at the temple. It caused a massive stir in the city.
Jesus Prophesied of His Resurrection
As the people came to an abrupt standstill, they demanded a sign from Jesus that He had authority to act in such a manner. They had heard of His miracles, wonders, and signs, and now this One who performs such signs is standing in the temple. They wanted to see something. Perhaps he could make something happen in the sky or cause some miracle to take place before their very eyes.
Jesus responded with a simple statement. He said:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
That certainly wasn’t what they were looking for, but it was a sentence that shocked them. The temple had been rebuilt years earlier, but had undergone a massive remodeling project over 46 years. Jesus’ statement was spread all across the city. We see evidence of this in two places. On one occasion, after Jesus’ arrest and during His trial, someone falsely accused Jesus by twisting this very sentence against Him (see Mark 14:57-58). As Jesus was hanging on the cross, we also see people passing by the cross and hurling insults at Jesus. Matthew records these words:
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads  and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matt. 27:39-40).
They had no idea what Jesus was saying, but it was one more prophecy of His resurrection to add to the many others in Scripture (Psalm 49:15; 16:10; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10″34; Matt 12:38-42). After Jesus’ resurrection had occurred and following His ascension, the disciples were talking with one another about Jesus’ prophecy. Perhaps they were eating fish sandwiches and one of them said, “Hey, remember when Jesus made that statement about the temple and it rocked all of Jerusalem?” They began to remember the whole scene of the temple purging and the intense prophecy and they remembered the Scripture and the words of Jesus and their faith was strengthened.
As we read Scripture and as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, it should serve as a means of faith strengthening. Such verses should solidify our faith. We must see that our faith is in a risen Savior of sinners—the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Unlike all other religious leaders of world history, Jesus lives.