Why Did Jesus Drive the Money-Changers Out of the Temple?
"We should praise God, sing and pray, and don't color on the walls, and don't sell anything," says Rachel, 5.
Coloring on the walls always got me in trouble, too, Rachel.
"I think they were charging people more money for their taxes than they were supposed to," says Melissa, 12. "The temple is a holy place, not a place to charge money to people who come there. We should not go into a holy place and charge people money because a church or temple is not a tax department."
For those of us who hate paying taxes, the Bible doesn't say there's anything inherently wrong with paying them. Jesus had no quibble with paying the temple tax. Peter caught a fish with a coin in its mouth to pay the temple tax for himself and Jesus (Matthew 17:24-27). Moses initiated this tax (Exodus 30:11-16).
"Jesus drove the money-changers out because he said, 'My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.' God's action teaches me that if you are deceitful or use the church for the wrong reason, you will not be rewarded," says Kosee, 10.
During the various religious feasts in which thousands of Jews traveled to Jerusalem, authorities allowed money-changers and animal sellers inside the outer court of the temple. People bought animals to sacrifice, and they had to exchange Roman money for money acceptable to religious leaders.
Transactions at a fair price should have been made outside the temple court. But these temple-sanctioned businesspeople were inside a place of worship. When people profane sacred things by trying to profit financially from them, they become dull and callous to the ways of God's spirit. The problem only compounds when they become ministry leaders.
"Jesus drove them out because he didn't want the house of his father to become a house of merchandise," says Morgan, 10. "In the Bible, it also said, 'Zeal for your house has eaten me up.'"
Yes, Jesus got angry, but it wasn't the kind of selfish anger we so often exhibit.
The money-changers were making it hard for common people to worship God. The outer court was full of bleating lambs, sellers hawking their wares and people worrying about whether or not they had enough money to worship God. No one was focused on God. Everyone was focused on money -- or the lack of it.
"When Jesus said he could build the temple in three days, he was trying to get the people to believe in him," says Shelby, 8.
Jesus spoke of his body as the temple, and the three days he mentioned referred to his resurrection on the third day. Jesus was the reality to which the temple pointed.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
Today, God doesn't dwell in buildings, but in the hearts of his people. When we come to worship God, we must put aside all distractions and agendas. Jesus wants his people to experience the joy and peace of undistracted devotion to him.
Think about this: In Jesus' time, people traveled for days to visit the temple where God's presence dwelt. If you're a Christian, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Memorize this truth: "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" (I Corinthians 6:19).
Ask this question: If you really believed your body is the temple where God's spirit dwells, how would the reality of God's sacred presence affect your thoughts, behavior, work and recreation?
Carey Kinsolving is a syndicated columnist, producer, author, speaker and website developer. To see more articles like this one, visit www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org/ColumnArchive.aspx. The Kids Talk About God website contains free, online content for children and families. See Carey’s Kid TV Interviews. Print free lessons from the "Kids Color Me Bible" and make your own book. Let an 11-year-old girl take you on a trip around the world in the Mission Explorers Streaming Video. Print Scripture verses illustrated by child artists. Receive a complimentary, weekly e-mail subscription to our Devotional Bible Lessons.
Bible quotations in this Bible lesson are from the New King James Version.
Copyright 2006 Carey Kinsolving