After the wedding, Jesus went down to Capernaum with His mother and brothers and His disciples. John says that they stayed there for a few days.
I wonder what they talked about, don’t you? Inquiring minds want to know!
Next, we see that Jesus cleansed the temple for worship.
Verse 13 tells us that it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, and so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was both the religious and political seat of Palestine. It was also the place where the long-awaited Messiah was expected to arrive.
The temple was located on a magnificent site, overlooking the city. Solomon had built the first temple on this same site almost 1,000 years earlier (949 B.C.) but his temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25). The new temple was rebuilt in 515 B.C. Herod the Great had enlarged and remodeled it to its present condition when Jesus arrived on the scene.
Every year, the Jewish people traveled from all around to gather there together. They went to Jerusalem to remember God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt. This was a week-long festival, with Passover being one day, and the feast of Unleavened Bread lasting the rest of the week (Exodus 12:1-13).
Therefore, the temple area would have been crowded with people. From the locals to thousands of out-of-town visitors, all were in preparation for this week-long event. The religious leaders crowded it even more by allowing these merchants and money changers to set up booths in the court of the Gentiles.
And sadly enough, these religious leaders tried to rationalize this practice as a convenience for the worshippers and as a way to make money for the temple upkeep.
The religious leaders did not seem to care that the true worshippers found it difficult to gain a heart of worship or celebration with all the disruptions and distortions that were going on.
These priests had established a very lucrative business of exchanging foreign money for Jewish currency. They were also selling the animals needed for the sacrifices. No doubt this so-called “religious market” began as a convenience for the Jews who had traveled far and either could not transport their own animal sacrifice or for those who didn’t have a sacrifice and came to receive one to present before the Lord.
Whatever the case, the purpose was to come and worship the Lord their God and not to extort the people in the process. What might have started as a convenience had become “a big business,” not a ministry.