It’s All About the Temple

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and her colt. He rides up to the temple and enters. The crowds called Him the son of David, the rightful heir to David’s throne. David is known for reforming the nation of Israel concerning her religious practices (cf. 1 Chronicles 15ff). Jesus, who fulfilled David’s typological reign, has been reforming the religion and worldview of the different parties in Second Temple Judaism. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus corrected false teaching. On His first day in Jerusalem, He cleanses the temple.

Matthew 21:12-17

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”

And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children 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 for Yourself’?”

And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

Jesus the reformer (v. 12-13)

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den.”

According to Zechariah 9 as alluded to by Matthew (cf. v. 1-11), Jesus came in order to:

  1. cut off the nations of the world
  2. save a remnant from the nations for God who would be like Israel to God,
  3. end the oppression against His people,
  4. break the means of war and restore justice and peace through meekness or humility, and
  5. establish His authority over all things and all people.

Jesus’s first order of business is to enter the temple, drive out all those who are buying and selling, and overturn the moneychangers’ and merchants’ tables. Why? Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7 as He overthrows the customary temple market:

Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.

In Isaiah’s prophecy, God revealed that people from every nation would be grafted into Israel and that His house, the temple, would be a house of prayer for every nation without hindrance. The temple plays a major role in Christ’s fulfillment of the messianic prophecies in the Prophets. The temple has something to do with the work of God on the earth. Jesus gives us a clue about such work in this text. The salvation of God’s remnant will be accomplished through the temple of God. God’s design for His temple is not commerce but atonement—God giving forgiveness to people rather than people having to pay God for salvation. Jesus is, in a sense, reversing the consumer mentality of temple worship. The temple is a house of prayer for all nations. Not a place that keeps others from coming to God based on the sizes of their pocketbooks. God’s economy is not the economy of the raging, worldly nations or human-centered religion.

When we think about religion today, though no longer based in a physical temple, we know that God’s church is to have an economy of atonement or redemption, not commerce. Christ’s goal is to win men from mammon, not mammon from men.

Jesus the sovereign (v. 14-16)

And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children 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 for Yourself’?”

The chief priests and scribes become indignant with Jesus because He is healing people and receiving praise from children, ‘Salvation, we pray to the rightful heir of David’s throne—Jesus of Nazareth.’ Is Jesus really allowing children to praise Him as the messiah and sovereign God? Does Jesus not hear the words coming from the mouths of these children in the holy temple? This is desecration and blasphemy in the holiest place… Not only does Jesus hear the children singing such a shocking song, He responds to the chief priests and scribes by quoting a line from Psalm 8:

O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

When Jesus quotes this psalm, He places Himself in the position of the Lord (יהוה) who establishes strength (praise) from the mouths of infants in order to make the enemy and revengeful cease—the very work Zechariah and Isaiah foretold would be characteristic of the Messiah. The work of the promised Messiah is the work of God, work that only God accomplishes. He accomplishes His work from the mouths of infants—the meek and those who are converted to become like children (cf. 18:3). Here, the children’s praise is silencing the religious enemies of God who happen to be Jews. The children’s praise is yet another indication that Christ is in Jerusalem to accomplish the work of ending enmity and vengefulness—a work only God can accomplish. Any messiah who is not God cannot do the work of God. Jesus will only succeed if He is, indeed, the God of Israel’s salvation.

I wonder if Christ’s concerns are ours. I wonder if many of those who presume to be religious or spiritual are actually the enemies of God who are silenced by the praises of children.

Sunday evening (v. 17)

And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and spent the night there.

Jesus leaves Jerusalem for the place He is staying in Bethany. As Palm Sunday draws to a close, we have seen the prophetic vision Jesus will accomplish by the end of Pentecost (Holy Week). 

Holy Week (Pentecost) Prophesies Fulfilled According to Matthew
ReferencesProphecyFulfillment Passage(s)Notes
Matthew 21:1-11; Zechariah 9; Psalm 8The Messiah will cut off the nations of the world, save a remnant from the nations for God who would be like Israel to God, end the oppression against His people, break the means of war and restore justice and peace through meekness or humility, and establish His authority over all things and all people.Not yet mentioned.
Matthew 21:12-17; Isaiah 56:7; Psalm 8People from every nation will be grafted into Israel. God’s house, the temple, will be a house of prayer for every nation without hindrance.Not yet mentioned.












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