The Lord of the Temple
Matthew 21:12-17
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple…

The temple of God (ver. 12) Jesus calls "my house" (ver. 13), asserting himself to be the Divine Lord of the temple. And quoting as he does from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, he identifies himself as "Jehovah." Acting in this quality, he surveyed the characters he found in the temple and dealt with them accordingly. But the temple stands forth as a type of Christ's Church (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21, 22; Hebrews 3:6), so the subject has its lessons for us. We may ask, then -


1. He finds the secularist there.

(1) The secularist is in his place in the world. The calling of the money changer is lawful when honestly fulfilled. So is that of the vendor of doves (see Deuteronomy 14:24).

(2) The calling of the secularist is a desecration in the "house of prayer." Lawful things become sinful when ill-timed and ill-placed. The temple of God is defiled by merchandise.

(a) By that scandalous traffic in holy things, which is so largely carried on within the borders of the professing Church, in simoniacal presentation, fraudulent exchanges, preferment obtained through flattery.

(b) By that worldly, covetous, money getting spirit which dwells in so many of its members. This spirit is demoralizing. It is also distracting to worship.

(3) Worldly gain must not be made the end of godliness (see 1 Timothy 6:5). Men should not enter the membership or seek office in Churches with a view to increasing their business.

2. He finds the afflicted there.

(1) "The blind and the lame" are in the world. Sin begets suffering. The prevalence of suffering evinces the prevalence of sin. But there must be qualification here (see John 9:3).

(2) "The blind and the lame" are in the temple. The Church on earth is not so perfect as to be free from afflictions.

(3) The afflicted are where they should be in the Church. Christ the Healer is still in his temple. Religion has its remedies. Religion has its reliefs.

3. He finds the true disciple there.

(1) The Christian in the world is not of it.

(2) In the Church he is at home.

(3) He meets Jesus there.

(4) He see his "wonders" there - miracles of moral healing, miracles of wholesome discipline.

(5) He raises the "Hosanna!" there. The "babes and sucklings," who perfected praise, were not infants literally, but childlike disciples (cf. Matthew 18:1-6; Matthew 11:25; 1 Peter 2:2).

4. He finds the ritualist and the traditionalist there.

(1) "The chief priests and the scribes" (ver. 15). Ritualist and traditionalist are frequently met in company.

(2) They saw, but could not interpret, the wonders wrought by Christ. They could not see his Godhead in the wonderful submission of the traffickers. Neither could they see this in his miracles of healing.

(3) They were angry with those who could interpret the wonders. They were scandalized that the disciples should shout "Hosanna to the Son of David!" Proud men cannot bear that honour should be given to any but themselves. To hypocrites everything that is not commonplace and traditional is extravagant.

(4) Prejudice could censure "the blind and the lame" for coming into the temple to be healed, but could see no evil in the traffickers stalling their oxen there. Superstition is often the companion of irreverence. The priests probably had a pecuniary interest in the traffic, particularly in those animals sold for sacrifice which they had to examine and approve. Interest blinds.


1. What has the secularist to expect?

(1) To be violently ejected from the Church. See the tables and seats overthrown and the money scattered. What a different estimate of its value has Jesus to that cherished by men of the world!

(2) To have their characters exposed. "Robbers!" Extortioners and cheats, viz. in their business, are robbers. The slyness of the fraud does not diminish its villainy. How monstrous the sin when the very Church of God is made a "den of thieves"!

(3) Those who are not admonished by the searchings of truth must suffer the retributions of power. On the first day when Jesus entered the temple he "looked round about upon all things." It was not until the second day that he gave the sterner rebuke (cf. Mark 11:11, 15).

(4) This was the second time that Jesus purged the temple. The first was about three years earlier (see John 2:14). Note: Secularists ejected from the Church will return. They must be expelled again.

(5) As our Lord purged the temple first at the commencement of his ministry and now again at the close of it, so at the beginning of the Christian dispensation the Jewish anti-Messiah was driven out by the Romans, and at the end of it the Gentile antichrist will be cast out.

(6) Never, until the anti-christian secularism is purged out of the temple of the Lord, will the glory of the Lord come into it as in ancient times. The millennial reign will set in with the return of the Shechinah.

2. What have the afflicted to expect?

(1) Miracles of healing. The physical miracles have their moral counterparts. The "blind" come to spiritual conception. The "lame" come to render moral obedience in. a steady, even walk.

(2) Christ alone wrought miracles in the temple of the Lord. He only can work out spiritual marvels.

(3) Note: Christ brought in the afflicted as he turned out the secularists. Concession to the spirit of the world is not the way to win men to Jesus. We have too many sensuous "entertainments."

(4) Spiritual glory is grander than material splendour. By his healing mercy Jesus made the glory of the latter house to surpass that of the former.

3. What have the true disciples to expect?

(1) Mutual encouragement. The hosannas were in chorus. If "children," literally taken, raised their voices, it was in imitation of the childlike disciples.

(2) The defence of Christ. The expulsion of the traffickers was for the defence of pious Gentiles; for it was in the court of the Gentiles the traffic was carried on. The privileges of the Gentile believer must not be diverted from him. Jesus also defended his disciples against their enemies, the ritualists and traditionalists.

(3) His commendation. God makes the wrath of men to praise him. But his praise is "perfected" by his disciples. With them his praise is intelligent, generous, and free.

4. What have the haughty to expect?

(1) Rebuke from Christ. There is a keen sarcasm in the question, "Did ye never read?" when addressed to the "chief priests and scribes."

(2) Abandonment by Christ. "And he left them." He had no sympathy with their spirit. He found a more congenial lodging in the olive-shade of Bethany.

(3) The great Redeemer is a great Reformer. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

WEB: Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers' tables and the seats of those who sold the doves.

The Fitting and the Unfitting in God's House
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