Sermon: The Messiah King Enters His Temple Matthew 21:12-17

Truth Taught- Jesus is the Messiah King who cleanses His Temple

Introduction

Two weeks ago, we saw Jesus entering His City, Jerusalem riding a young colt with the praise of the followers singing, 

Matthew 21:9 (ESV) 

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 

As a traveler entered the great city from the east as Jesus did, the first place one would enter is the Temple area.  According to Mark’s account, the event of cleansing the Temple took place the next day after the Triumphal Entry into the City.

The setting for our text today is not the inner sanctum where the Jews could enter to worship but rather the court yard area which was where the Gentiles could be.  The Court of the Gentiles. 
The scene was that the money changers and those who sold sacrificial animals were set up and had overtaken the court of the Gentiles.  This was a great hinderance to their worship.  It would be most difficult to bow down to pray next to someone shouting for business or next to the bleating lambs which were in their stalls, also in the court yard area.  This was not the purpose of the Temple. 
The practice of money changing began because the Jews required Jewish coinage and not Roman coinage to be used for the Temple Tax which was paid just before Passover.  So, the Jews would greatly benefit from the crowds that would gather in Jerusalem at Passover and they would greatly profit when these pilgrim worshippers who often spoke another language had to pay their tax in Jewish currency.  Not only would the Jews profit but so would the money changers.

The Bible records two instances of Jesus cleansing the temple of money changers and those selling sacrificial animals. Jesus’ first encounter with money changers was at the beginning of His three-year ministry (John 2:14–16). He made a whip of cords and drove them out. The second time He confronted the money changers was the week before His trial and crucifixion. Seeing that the money changers had come back, He again drove them out, saying, ““It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers’”” (Matthew 21:13).
Because Jewish law required a temple tax of a half-shekel (Exodus 30:11–16), Jews and visitors from other nations came to pay their taxes when they offered their sacrifices. But foreign coins with the likeness of pagan emperors would not be accepted in God’s temple. So, money changers exchanged those foreign coins for Jewish money, but they did so at an excessive profit. Rather than provide this service as a business in another part of town, they exploited the religious zeal of the visitors to Jerusalem and did their business on temple grounds. Because they determined their own exchange rate, money changers easily took advantage of the poor and the foreigners pouring into Jerusalem for Passover.

These same money changers were associated with others who engaged in shady business practices in the temple courts. Some sold sacrificial animals, overcharging people who did not bring their own. Others were in charge of examining the animals to be sacrificed, and it was a simple matter to declare an animal “unapproved” and force the worshiper to buy another animal—at an inflated price—from the temple vendors. Such goings-on, exploiting the poor and the foreigner, angered the Lord Jesus and was strictly forbidden in the Mosaic Law (Exodus 22:21Leviticus 19:34).

We see Jesus, the Messiah in action here today in our text.  He is greatly angered by the misuse of the Temple for business rather than for prayer and worship. 
Jesus is concerned that the Temple, a place for worship had become a place for commercial business.  Not just business but the business conducted within the Temple precinct greatly hindered worship. 

This event not only takes place because Jesus is concerned for true worship within the Temple area but it also takes place to fulfill messianic hope.  Just as surely as Jesus’ donkey ride into the City fulfilled a messianic prophecy found in Zechariah so too does His cleansing the Temple fit another prophecy in Zechariah.

Zechariah 14:21 (ESV) 

21 And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the meat of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day. 

Malachi 3:1-4 (ESV) 

3 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. 

So, the entering of the Temple to cleanse it has a two-fold purpose… Jesus really does want to cleanse it of business and commerce and restore it back to its purpose of prayer and second, He does this to show all in the city that He is the rightful Messiah King and what they are seeing is the messianic prophecies fulfilled in and through Jesus.

Father, this is Your Word.  May it not return to You until it has accomplished Your purposes.  Use it to save Your elect and equip the saints for ministry.  May the Holy Spirit apply these truths to our hearts so we can bring glory to Your Son, Jesus Christ…Amen

Matthew 21:12–17 (ESV) 

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, 

“ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies 

you have prepared praise’?” 

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. 

1.  The Messiah Drives Out

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” 

If you entered the Temple that day to worship you would have witnessed a one Man recking ball.  Jesus was on a mission to restore worship in the Temple.  He was angry, He was passionate, and He was greatly concerned.  The coins went rolling, the lambs got loose and the pigeons flew away. 
We cannot over state what Jerusalem saw that day.  The Messiah King was on a divine mission to reform Temple worship.  Jesus is out to expose the issues concerning His house of worship.  The people were using this wonderful time of Passover for greedy gain with no concern for the wellbeing of the people who were coming in from all around to seek God, show their support, and worship Him.
As Jesus turns over the tables, He is quoting Scripture.  That would have been something to see.  This goes against what many see as right.  They somehow think that Jesus is being too passionate or too mean somehow.  The reality is this is absolutely the right thing for Him to do.
Jesus is not just quoting from Isaiah…


Isaiah 56:7 (ESV) 

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.” 

He’s calling the Temple, His house.  My house shall be called a house of prayer.  Isaiah 56 begins with Yahweh says…
Jesus is claiming divinity as He recites God’s very words found in Isaiah.  This is My house; I alone have authority here because I am God.  I make the rules in My house and you are not welcome here.  He drives out those who were engaging in commerce within the Temple area.  Go cheat people somewhere else, this is the house of worship.
So, the Messiah drives out those who are not seeking to worship God.
Notice who He welcomes with open arms…

2.  The Messiah Welcomes

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.

While Jesus drives out all who were on the Temple grounds to make a profit, He welcomes all who come to Him as the Son of David seeking to be healed.  These were foreigners who came for the Passover.  On that day the Messiah was in His Temple and on that day the plagues of blindness and being lame were thrown out of the Temple as fast as the money changers were.  Jesus healed them all.  The blind were led to the temple by their hand and left praising God.  Jesus cleared the way for those who came to worship.  Now there was room for all God intended to do.
What we must see here is that the blind and lame were excluded from the inner Temple.  They were also excluded from coming to the Temple at all.


2 Samuel 5:8 (ESV) 

And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.” 

So, what’s going on here?  Jesus, is outside the Temple in the Courtyard area cleansing it from commerce so that people could worship and in God’s good providence the Messiah comes outside the Temple to those who could not go in and heals them.

We could not access Jesus and He came to earth for us.  This is a wonderful truth Jesus comes to us.  He came to us in the incarnation and tabernacled with us.  He in Emmanuel, God with us.  He reaches for us, He heals us, He provides salvation for us.  He went to the cross for us…
If you cannot access Jesus, He will come to you. 
Can you see the scene?  Jesus is leading the blind and lame into the Temple. They can see and they can walk and now they can worship.  What a wonderful day the Messiah is in His Temple!  

3.  There is No Messianic Secret Now

15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, 

“ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies 

you have prepared praise’?” 

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. 

Everything, it seems, that Jesus does is proof positive that He is the Messiah.  The Gospel writers are out to show us.  

Matthew shows us that almost immediately Jesus finds stark opposition in the chief priests and the scribes.  Among other things, the priests were to guard the Temple from corruption.  The scribes were to be the teachers of the Law.  Neither were doing their job.  

Now the true Messiah has entered and is doing wonderful things and you’d expect Matthew to report that…


15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 

Praising God or they joined in with song but that’s not the case.  

They had the Messiah right there in front of them.  They were speaking with Him.  They saw the events and they proved to be the real blind ones.  They saw but didn’t see the reality.  Through their blindness they refused to acknowledge the truth they saw.

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) 

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

The children saw the events and even they knew the truth.  What irony, the very ones who should have seen and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah first were blind and the children could see what they could not see.  

These religious leaders were indignant because Jesus was doing Messiah things…that’s what the phrase wonderful things means.  He was cleaning out the Temple, clearing the way for worship.  He was healing those who came to Him.  The children were singing the Messiah’s praises and the religious leaders were angry.  

Notice the contrast between Jesus’ righteous anger and the Priest’s and scribe’s sinful anger.  Anger is good when its for God’s cause but sinful when it serves man. 
The children were singing Hosanna to the Son of David!

Remember, save us, Messiah!  No more messianic secret.  The claims are out for all to see. 

16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, 

“ ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies 

you have prepared praise’?” 

The original Scripture that Jesus is quoting is from Psalm 8:2. Here the infants and babies are praising Yahweh.  The children are praising God for all His wonderful deeds.  

Jesus is accepting praise from children and showing by quoting from the Psalms that the praise due to God alone is rightfully His.  Jesus is the Messiah King.  He has come into His Temple.  He has cleansed the filth our of it.  True worship has begun.  Wonderful works were accomplished and the children sing to their King. 

4.  The Messiah Left Them

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there. 

This is a very hard truth.  Jesus left the Temple.  He would of course return and spend time teaching the crowds that came for Passover but He was done with Judah’s teachers.  He was finished with them. 
They had rejected their Messiah in His Temple.  Their verdict was that they’d rather be in charge of their own plans and life.  Their system of commerce and the profits they received from the schemes and crocked dealings.  They’d rather take advantage of the people than worship the Messiah.  He left them.

Matthew 21:26–27 (ESV) 

26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. 



Conclusion

What is your verdict?  

It may have been that Jesus has revealed Himself to be worthy of worship. What’s your verdict? Are you like the little children, who in the wonderful simplicity of their youth, taking into their little hearts what they saw, could cry out, “Hosanna, save now, O son of David”? It was proof enough for them.

Or are you like the hardhearted religious leaders who are only angry because He’s making such claims on your life, because He’s calling you to accountability, because He’s confronting your sin? It’s either one or the other; no middle ground.

You are either a worshipper of Christ or you’re indignant because He lays claim over your life.  You thought or pretended to think that you are in charge of your life.  He calls you and your sin out and you will give an account.  Do you think by denying all you know to be true of Jesus that somehow will exclude you on judgment day?

Have you refused to acknowledge Jesus is, in fact the Messiah King.  Have you refused to acknowledge that He is Savior and Lord?  Have you been fantasizing that God has no claim on your life?  

 

Resources Used

Matthew by David Dickson

Matthew by Leon Morris

Matthew by RT France

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