The Atonement and the Money Changers.
Four times in
the gospel accounts we read of Jesus having interaction with those who
did business at the Temple. Once, early in this ministry, he fashioned
a whip out of cords and showed some emotional anger.
gospel accounts lead us to understand Christ twice gave the Temple a
cleansing – once, during his first public Passover, and then again
during the final week of His life.
17 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to
Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and
sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had
made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and
the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and
overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these
things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. And
his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house
hath eaten me up.
business as usual to the Jews. Most of them had been raised to accept
the actions at the temple as normal and because of the pious location,
those proceedings were beyond questioning. But what really happens at
Jews coming to Jerusalem
to pay their Temple tax could only use a special coin, called the
half-shekel. Weighing in at about half an ounce, it was similar to our
quarter dollar in size. It was unique in that it was pure silver and
the weight was certain; it had no pagan Emperor’s image and in the eyes
of the Jews this made it the only acceptable coin for use in the Temple.
Because it was used almost
exclusively near the Temple, they were not easy to locate. The money
changers took advantage by cornering the market, and raising the value
of the coins to whatever they felt they could get away with. As with
any commodity, a monopoly leads to great profits for those in charge.
In his book The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
historian Alfred Edersheim reports Josephus and the Rabbinic writings of
the time claim that Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, was in charge
of the “Temple-market.” The Rabbinic efforts referred to this market as
the “Bazaars of the sons of Annas.” Josephus claimed Annas was very
rich and guilty of “despoiling by open violence the common priests of
their official revenues.”
The office was the high
priest was corrupted completely. While the law says one high priest,
these men were by deceit controlling the office and the finances
generated by the operation. Corruption had reached Israel’s highest
Luk 3:2 Annas and
Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son
of Zacharias in the wilderness.
in Jerusalem have revealed what is believed to be the dwelling
quarters of the high priest on the Eastern side of the city
overlooking the temple. Initial reports compare the opulence
displayed to be on par with today’s billionaires.
While most Jews
lived day to day in small, crowded dwellings, the residence of
the High Priest was a palace. Far from what God intended for a
A Price for
For males above age 20
travelling far distances three times yearly, not having to shepherd an
animal from home, given the ease of purchasing a lamb or dove at a
market price might have been a great convenience, but it wasn’t what the
Lord said to do.
A personal animal
sacrifice means more than just buying one and handing it over. Giving
the Lord a portion of your windfall is not as meaningful as handing over
a portion of your hard-earned wages.
Jesus highlights the hypocrisy of the
corrupted system using the widow’s offering as an example.
Mar 12:38 And he said unto them in
his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing,
and love salutations in the marketplaces,
Mar 12:39 And the chief seats in
the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Mar 12:40 Which devour widows'
houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive
Mar 12:41 And Jesus sat over
against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the
treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
Mar 12:42 And there came a certain
poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
Mar 12:43 And he called unto him
his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this
poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into
Mar 12:44 For all they did cast in
of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had,
even all her living.
While we always take from this the
lesson she gave more than they and did so on faith, the larger message
is the corruption of those in charge who “devour widow’s houses.”
Consider for a moment the system that God had set up to provide for the
poor and the widow and the stranger, from this very treasury, yet it had
become so perverted they encouraged even the penniless to pour their
living into the High priest’s coffers.
Mar 11:15 And they come to
Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them
that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the
moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;
Mar 11:16 And would not suffer that
any man should carry any vessel through the temple.
Mar 11:17 And he taught, saying
unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations
the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Mar 11:18 And the scribes and chief
priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared
him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
On this final cleansing trip, Jesus
effectually disrupts their business so completely they seek to take his
Why the second trip? He had chased
the money changers out once before early in his ministry. Now, in the
final week of his life, he angers them again.
I entitled this effort
“Atonement and the Money Changers” but have yet to use the title word.
The word atonement appears 81 times in 70 verses in the King James
translation of the scriptures. I found this fact to be both
overwhelming and awe inspiring: It only
appears once in the New Testament.
Hbr 9:26 For then
must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now
once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the
sacrifice of himself.
The word atonement, comes
from the Greek katallagē, meaning
Our death in trespasses
and in sins was exchanged for a life in Christ Jesus. Our sinfulness
and sinful nature were exchanged for His righteousness.
adjustment of a difference, reconciliation, restoration to favour
Christ more than adjusted
the difference of our condition, He paid the full price.
comes from the root word:
meaning to change, exchange, as coins for others of
to reconcile (those who are at variance)
Christ reconciled us to
return to favour with, be reconciled to one
Christ returned us to the
wanted position of righteousness and favor.
to receive one into favour
And bestowed upon us His grace.
Why did Jesus physically remove the
money-changers? They represented a type of atonement.
There can only be one true atonement.
Brother Royce Ellis