Cleansing the Temple

“On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, ‘Is it not written: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.”—Mark 11:15–19 (NIV)

As Jesus’ final week continued, His issues with the established religious order escalated. Here, we see Jesus walk into the temple and see those He referred to as “robbers” taking advantage of people. At that moment, once again He showed Himself to be the voice of the voiceless and the defender of the defenseless as He “entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves” (Matthew 21:12 NIV). 

You see, our Lord wouldn’t stand for such abuse upon those who sought to be closer to God. These were men and women coming to the temple in order to offer a sacrifice to the Lord, and they were being taken advantage of. But by doing so, He had drawn the anger of the religious leaders to the point that they began “looking for ways to kill him.”

There’s something powerful you need to see here. Did you know this wasn’t the first time He did this? In John 2:13–25, toward the beginning of His ministry three years earlier, He did the very same thing! He bookended His public ministry with the same action—clearing the temple. 

Why is this important? Because it’s exactly what He does in us! In our lives, when we first come to Jesus, He comes into our hearts and lives and cleanses our temples. He turns over table after table of our old lives. He drives out the thief who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our souls (John 10:10) and takes up residence in our temples. He who made His dwelling among us (John 1:14) now makes His dwelling within us (Romans 8:10). 

But thank the Lord that’s not the end of it. How so? Because just as He returned to Jerusalem and turned the tables over again, every once in a while, our hearts require tables to be turned over again! From time to time, sometimes from minute to minute, we need the Lord to turn over the tables of things like idolatry, strongholds, secret sin, and bitterness. We need Him to drive out the things that have set up residence in our hearts that are not of Him. And the beautiful thing of it all is that He never loses His zeal, passion, fire, or fervor for us! His love never needs rekindling. He is zealous for you and me, and He never gives up on us. 

You don’t have to do it on your own. You don’t need to turn over your tables for the Lord to dwell in you. He loves you and if you have given your life to Him, He dwells in you. 

PAUSE: Why did Jesus become so upset by what He saw?  

PRACTICE: Spend time in prayer today asking the Lord to reveal areas in your heart and life that need some tables turned over.

PRAY: Jesus, thank You for cleansing my heart as you cleansed the temple. Help me to keep those sinful inclinations out of my heart, to resist the draw toward them, and to be zealous for the things of God. Help me to live like You and be a voice for the voiceless. Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.