naos - a sanctuary (divine dwelling-place); a temple (sacred abode), the place of divine manifestation
Maybe someone thought, "hey, these folks are traveling an awful long distance to come to Jerusalem and make their sacrifices. It's a long journey, they're tired, they need a place to rest and then they have to find a place to buy a dove or a lamb and bring it all the way back to the temple. Maybe we should try and set up a little booth, just a small one, outside the temple. That way these weary travelers don't have to be inconvenienced with trying to find their way around town to buy their animals for sacrifice."
Maybe it went like that. I don't know. I wasn't there. But I can kinda see how it could happen like that. Human nature is human nature and it hasn't changed throughout the centuries.
However it happened, however long it took to get out of hand, it was a big business going on right in God's holy place.
And Jesus confronted it when he visited the temple one day. And he got.....a little angry. You can read about it in John 2:12-25. He got so angry he tipped over tables and money went everywhere. Along with birds and feathers and frightened lambs. It had to have been a sight to see. A calm, gentle man blowing a gasket.
It's interesting what angered him and who he spoke to about his anger. It wasn't the crowds, it wasn't the farmers with the cows and sheep (he did chase those out too). It wasn't those who were buying the animals for sacrifice.
What made him angry and who got the verbal whooping were the ones selling the doves - maybe a little bit of a physical whooping, there is a whip involved in the story.
You have to know the significance of doves when used for sacrificing to adhere to Jewish law. The doves were what were used by the poorest of the poor to sacrifice and appease Yahweh.
I could be wrong but I imagine that there were a lot of dove sellers. Many more dove sellers than sheep and cattle sellers. Israel was being run by the Romans and Rome did not have the reputation for making the Jews wealthy. There were a lot of poor Jewish people needing what their few shekels could buy. And those were doves. I imagine there may have been a good mark up on the doves too.
You know how it is in tourist spots or convenience stores. The price is always a little bit higher just because the customer is willing to pay or has to pay for the convenience. I don't think it was much different at the temple that day.
Someone, somewhere along the way, thought of a way to make some easy bucks and make it easier for travelers coming to the temple. I imagine when one entrepreneur saw someone set up a table with a few doves caged he may have thought to himself, "I could make a few extra shekels that way too."
I imagine it slowly took off and before anyone could really regulate what was going on, it was a marketplace inside a Holy place. Any other place and Jesus may have just kept walking. But this was in His place and He's not going to keep moving along.
So Jesus comes in and sees what's going on. He sees the poorest of the poor being swindled by the smooth talking dove sellers. I've seen enough American television and movies, I know how con artists work. There was a big con going on. On the grounds of God's holy temple.
I'll let you read what happened. John 2 starting at verse 13. It doesn't end well for the marketplace that day. (Go ahead, pick up your Bible and read it. Don't be lazy! You're too big to be spoon fed now).
And Jesus was right, both about the temple made out of stone and the temple that was His body. His body was destroyed and three days later it was brought back to life. The temple of stone was destroyed a generation later.
I got to walk around the temple stones that once stood where Jesus Himself walked. I got to touch them and I wondered, as I walked around that area that has never been rebuilt, what these stones could say about that day if they could talk.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
T is for Temple.
Things to chew on:
1. What about Jesus' display of anger surprises you most?
2. Do you have any small snowballs that are rolling into bigger snowballs in your temple?
3. Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection has made you his temple. Chew on that. I'm chewing too.