“Jesus made a whip with some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple.” (John 2:15)
When putting a jigsaw puzzle together, you first lay out all the pieces, then you begin fitting them together to form a whole and complete picture puzzle. That is precisely what I would like to do this Holy Week, using the events leading up to and including the crucifixion of Christ. Most of us should know many of the puzzle pieces needed for Holy Week. What happened, when it happened, how it happened. But I would like for us to complete the puzzle by considering why everything happened the way that it did. I pray as we do this, it will give each of us a new and fresh understanding of the consistent and sovereign plan regarding God’s requirements for the sacrifice of sin through both the Old and New Testaments.
We will begin with the primary event that transpired on Monday of Holy Week – the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple at that time was called Herod’s Temple. The puzzle pieces we have are printed with a picture of coins throne on the floor, or an overturned table in the corner. Jesus entered the Temple, made a whip with ropes and began chasing the vendors and money changers out. Why did he do this? We know he was upset because they had turned his Father’s house of prayer into the local Walmart, but could there be more pieces to this puzzle that we are missing?
The Jews were required to go to the Temple at Jerusalem three times a year. Once for Passover; once for Shavuot, or Festival of the Harvest; and once for Sukkot, or The Feast of Tabernacles. We are aware that Christ began his public ministry at the age of 30. We also know he was crucified at the age of 33. Now let’s do the math. If Christ spent at least three years in public ministry, that means he was required to go to the Temple in Jerusalem at least nine times within those three years. Why did he not cleanse the Temple one of those nine times? Why Holy Week? Surely each time he attended one of the yearly feasts, he saw the vendors changing money and selling livestock.
This is where we now get the remainder of the puzzle pieces. Remember the Day of Atonement back in the Old Testament? It was the one time in the year that the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to make the sin sacrifice for the people (Hebrews 9:7). The sacrifice could only be given in the Holy of Holies because it was the most sacred place in all the Tabernacle or Temple. We know that Holy Week was the week ordained by God for the most holy of all sacrifices ever given for the sin of mankind – namely His Son, Jesus Christ. If ever the Temple needed to be made sacred for the sacrifice for sin, it was THAT week. Jesus cleansing the Temple was the Sacrificial Lamb making things holy for the sacrifice he was about to become. No one was holy enough to cleanse it – only Jesus Christ.
Now do you see the pieces that make up the entire puzzle regarding the cleansing of the Temple? Christ cleansing the Temple was not simply about purging things out. It was also very much about preparing for the most holy sacrifice ever made for the sin of mankind. Now that we have all the pieces of our Monday puzzle, on Wednesday we will take a more detailed look at the puzzle of the Jewish leaders plot to crucify Christ.