Luke 19:45-48 Then Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people selling animals for sacrifices. 46 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
47 After that, he taught daily in the Temple, but the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the other leaders of the people began planning how to kill him. 48 But they could think of nothing, because all the people hung on every word he said.
Luke 20:1-8 One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 2 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
5 They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. 6 But if we say it was merely human, the people will stone us because they are convinced John was a prophet.” 7 So they finally replied that they didn’t know.
8 And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Wasn’t it bad enough that Jesus just rode into town on a donkey as the crowds declared that he is the Messiah? Jesus infuriated the religious leaders when he refused to tell the crowds that they were wrong about him and as if that wasn’t bad enough he returns to the temple and upsets the establishment some more.
Instead of acting out against the Roman government in Jerusalem as you would expect the recently announced king of the Jews to do, Jesus entered the temple and dealt with the issues in God’s house, the corruption there was more important and the political problems. Jesus cleaned house by throwing out the money changers and the people selling animals for the sacrifice, both services were necessary but they were being used for huge financial gain.
To Jesus the issue in Israel was not Roman occupation, the issue was Jewish religious corruption. The Lord is not concerned with the people’s relationship to Rome, He’s concerned with the people’s relationship to God.
The Jews and proselytes to Judaism needed the money changers so they would have the proper currency for the temple and the people selling the animals made it easier to travel to the temple from far away without taking care of the animal sacrifice. Both of these business transactions were being made in the part of the temple where the Gentiles were allowed to go to pray.
I have to wonder what would happen if the people that Jesus threw out felt any guilt for their wrongs and they went to the religious leaders to offer a sacrifice for forgiveness, then what would the Pharisees do? Would they admit they were wrong and that they also needed to repent and offer a sacrifice? I doubt it.
Who gave Jesus his authority?
John 12:49-50 I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”
The religious leaders loved the authority that they had and they liked to think that they were a big deal but Jesus rejected their authority and did what he pleased. He overrode their decision to allow the animals and thieves into the temple courts. There’s nothing more devastating and hard to swallow than being treated as if you don’t matter when you think you really do.
Jesus was always known to speak with authority (Matthew 7:28-29) but the Pharisees hadn’t figured it out yet, for the last three years he taught and performed miracles daily but they are so spiritually blind that they have to ask him where his authority is from. (Luke 2:45-47, 4:36)
We know by his teaching and his miracles that he is clearly the Son of God, Jesus didn’t need to answer their question directly and get into a debate about his authority. His authority was proved everyday of his earthly ministry and we all know that actions speak louder than words.
The question that I have to answer is will I submit to Jesus authority in the way that I live my life? Will I seek to please myself and do whatever I need to do to have fun, make money and be popular? Will I allow Jesus to clean up my mind and purify my thoughts?