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Why Did Jesus Flip the Tables?

Updated: 5 days ago

Did you know that Jesus flipped over the merchants tables in the temple two times?

Here is the account from Matthew:

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. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers!”

We find that Jesus did this before his public ministry in John 2:13-16 and then again right before his crucifixion as cited in Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17 and Luke 19:45-46. Why did Jesus cleanse the temple? Jesus said it: They made it a house of merchandise, but it was suppose to be a house of prayer.

People came from long distances to the temple to worship especially during passover week. Think of it in terms of people traveling to go to the Olympics, Daytona 500, or the Super Bowl. It was a major festival, and the population of the city would have increased by as much as 6 times.

Those that were coming to the temple to worship God needed animals fit for sacrifice according to what God required in His law. Many of those that were coming to worship were traveling long distances. Bringing sacrificial animals along with them was not feasible. They would need to buy the animals upon arrival. The pilgrims also needed to change their foreign money into temple currency in order to pay the the Temple tax. This is why the merchants and moneychangers were necessary. They provided the sacrificial animals and the temple currency.


The problem was not what they provided (animals and currency), but where they were providing it. These merchants and money changers set up shop right in the courtyard of the Gentiles. This courtyard was to be used where anyone who was not Jewish could come for worship.

Jesus even said that this courtyard was to be used for prayer for the nations, but they had made it a "den of robbers." Imagine being a foreigner coming to seek God and worship Him, but you are hindered in worship because the sounds of buying, selling, sounds and smells of animals, and the jingling of coins! We can totally see why Jesus was outraged.


When Jesus flipped over the tables and cleansed the temple, we see Him quoting from Jeremiah 7:11 which reads,

Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it,” says Yahweh.

These merchants and money changers had one agenda...greed. We've seen it before as well. Have you ever been to a ball game or event with those selling food? We are usually in shock with prices like $4 for a bottle water and a $10 hot dog! These people were profiting off of God all in the name of worship to make a buck along with hindering the worship of the Gentiles. This reveals the real heart issue. They were not there to glorify God.


Those of us who know Christ are the temple of God. Christ is to be ruling and reigning in our hearts. In what ways have we allowed the temporary, meaningless idols or ideas to take the place of true worship of God within our hearts?

Have we at times become like the money changers and merchants in our hearts? Does Jesus need to flip over and drive out some things that have taken the center stage in our lives over our worship and prayer? May Christ sanctify our hearts so that we might be wholly separated to Him in pure worship.

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